20 Ideas For Local Authorities To Engage With Web 2.0
A week ago I spent a whole day leading a session on behalf of Socitm, the Society of Information Technology Management, where we were exploring the impact new media could have in Local Authorities and other public bodies. Most of those present were from the world of corporate IT and, as someone presenting a variety of tools they were likely to be blocking on their home patch, I was a tad nervous about taking them on this particular learning journey.
I needn't have been. Having explained in broad terms the main drivers of change thanks to this technology, I was able to explore some more specific examples of public sector engagement with the social web, from eduBuzz in the domain of education, to several health-related initiatives of the NHS. We saw how technology is taking politics towards the realm of direct democracy, and explored the potential for some of the mobile, ambient and participative media that citizens are increasingly using in their day-to-day (social) lives.
We worked through the afternoon seeking practical, do-able actions that these IT managers could take forward, without the need for engagement of the senior management teams or specialist outsourced expertise. They relished the task, and came up with some superb ideas they could implement in days, rather than months or years. Some of them have even put them into action already: take a peek at Stratford's homepage, complete with Twitter updates. Here are the rest, coming to a local council near you:
What are the biggest challenges in your organisation?
- Competitions for art work on Flickr
- Mental health blog
- Teachmeet-style therapy group
- Video diary of experiences
- Flickr/Google Earth mashups
- Things to do in the area, events, locations for recycling etc...
- Online estate agency for social housing
- Statistics in a glance mashup
- Graffiti tracking, crowdsourcing for finding the source of the 'tag'
- Mashups to reveal extent of disruption during strikes, accidents
- Crowdsourcing FAQs on a wiki
- Homeworkers can have real-time advice between 'virtual desks' (RSS feed to mobile)
- Twitter for mass-collaboration during crises and a blog to quickly publish information and provide an instant feedback loop
- Longitudinal e-consultation on complex issues
- Using Flickr to provide stock photography to local press and council workers (like this)
- Providing digital cameras to council gardeners to share the process and final result with enthusiasts and ciizens.
- Twitter private groups for quick intranet publishing
- Watchlist introduction for the PO, PR, Comms team
- Culture change through a "from-the-top" blog by the CEO
- Suggestion box for cost-effectiveness