We are working with Digital Birmingham and the Cabinet Office transparency team to introduce (in some cases release) a new set of knowledge and skills into the social media surgery movement – skills that will help community groups make better use of data, including open data.
This week NHS England has been in Birmingham picking many brains to try and understand how their #nhscitizen idea might work best at a local level. Overnight I chewed over the things below but for context. NHS Citizen is an attempt to encourage people to voice their experience and ideas about health care and for the NHS England board and other levels of the NHS to learn how to join, listen to and use that conversation. It’s not a concrete thing at the moment and this video gives a sense of it…
Below are some of my slightly generic thoughts on what this might need to be like…
Is it a problem that this is about citizens talking to NHS England only, after all health and social care are experienced the same.
Err towards Solutions focus (not problems focus)
Focus not just on problems but experiments and solutions. A process that channels problems up will not shift the way we deliver good or better health to each other. One that frames problems partly through things people have done to try and solve them will create:
a tone that encourages those at the top to use (rather than avoid) the discussion and information.
a source of inspiration for people (citizens) and practitioners (also citizens) which includes new ways of fixing/doing things
room for those who act very differently from prevailing structures to share why they think what they do makes things better and then go an make things change.
a chance to celebrate people who act to make things better.
Use people’s stories to inspire fixes
When you make thing personal you want to solve it. At the personal level solutions can be more practical than at a systemic level.
Don’t wait for change:
Some traditional structures says tell us your problems and we’ll come back with our solution or reason why we can’t solve it. that involves waiting for change. If you send a problem to the top and wait for change until permission comes back it stifles innovation. NHS Citizen should be able to track innovation, solutions and change – the board can learn faster from that and it will help shift the culture from what Steve Fairman, Helen Bevan and other’s have described as a focus on the “disruptive troublemakers” in their paper on NHS culture change.
We are all citizens
So enjoy being one – whether the NHS pays you or not.
Don’t be an institution.
The problem of being both a thing and not a thing. Anthony Zacharzewski was quoted as saying “there will never be a chief executive of NHS Citizen” and yet we still tend to think of things as things. This is more like the internet – few people ask who is head of the internet. yet we use it and trust it, accepting it as a platform we can shape.
There’s a conversation going on in South Birmingham – led by Karen Cheney and Austin Rodriguez and others – about how to get more public democratic processes shared more widely. This builds on various work (including a Cllr in Billesley buying some kit to live stream for the first time their ward cttemeeting). At a meeting yesterday we talked a bit about equipment and platforms, but also that not all meetings need to be live streamed etc. So, I wondered, could establish stages of activity for digital open local democracy? I said I write up my thoughts as a blog post….
This is a summation of some of our experience social reporting over the years and the following list applies to local processes, currently things like police priority setting meetings, patient forums for GP and CCG’s, council ward committee’s, housing association walkabouts, neighbourhood forum meetings or neighbourhood watch groups. This is the myriad of daily democracy that we have created over time.
5 stars of open (hyper)local democracy
1 star: Be seen and be welcoming. Putting agenda’s and minutes somewhere where it is very easy to find them and where it is easy for others to share them. Make sure everyone knows they’re invited. (This could be a blog, just on google docs with a link or creating an eventbrite to invite people to meetings. It can include putting invites through doors and agenda’s and minutes on public noticeboards.)
2 star: Talk about what you’re doing. This means that you have a #hashtag for your meeting and publicise it and also share what you know (make sure that background information to papers is publicly available). You are open to others live reporting or recording what you are doing.
3 star: Do it live. You do the above but you also do it during your meeting or event. This is where you can introduce a livestream of video or audio or live social reporting through twitter, facebook and or a blog. This also means you only hold meetings in places where there is good, publicly usable wi-fi or 3g.
4 star: Involve people outside the room in the meeting. This is a step change from being seen to be doing. This values the questions and comments made on the web as being as important to your meeting as the ones made in the room. They are incorporated though hashtags or services like cover it live, blyve or a facebook q&a as the event unfolds. This could also mean organising events specifically for talking to people on the web.
5 star: It’s a permanent conversation. This fifth step recognises that the civic conversation you’re having doesn’t just happen at times and places you decide. It can happen all the time. It means being responsive in between meetings when, for example a comment appears on a website or a hashtag.
There are other stages I could have added – using open data for example, but I’m trying to envisage stages by which we can help us develop from the familiar “meeting with 1 man and a dog in a draught village hall”. So perhaps the 5 stars of “more” open local democracy.
Behind all this is another core principle:
Keep it simple:
Collaborate. Don’t do this in silos, have things that involve many services, voluntary or statutory.
Use available tools. make things happen with the mobile phones around you, using livestreaming through google hangout or similar, rather than needing to build a thing. (there are very fine services used for some formal democratic processes, but they’re not essential here)
Use available kit – what can you achieve with a smart phone or two? How much do you really need to buy, is video right for your sort of event?
Go to where people are If the busiest place to find people is on facebook can you use that for your online conversations. Sharing live events online through hyperlocal blogs is another example
If you can’t make it work without these then clearly start looking for other ways of doing but start with keep it simple, not with “we need to build a portal for that” .
Thanks also to our very own Steph Clarke for helping me think through this – she’s oodles of experience of encouraging public services to get involved with people online both at work and her volunteer efforts at www.wv11.co.uk