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Wolverhampton LNP, Social reporting and finding their feet on Twitter.

We have recently been doing some work in Wolverhampton with the Local Neighbourhood Partnership (LNP), talking to their neighbourhood wardens about how they can use Twitter to communicate on their patch, the sorts of conversations they could be having and showing them practically how to use it.

As I live in Wolverhampton, sit on the board for my local LNP and use twitter in my neighbourhood with @WV11, one of the examples I used when training them was live tweeting from our meetings.

Bi-monthly in each LNP area Read more

Twitter is a very private place

I was just talking to someone who’s work overlaps with mine and has just joined twitter.  “It’s granny watch really”, she said.

Her grandchild is new and, like all new ones, quite demanding.  So her son/daughter need a simple way to communicate with anyone who’d like to know how things  are.  Doing this on twitter allows the grandparents to keep in touch, share but give the parents a little peace.

It’s but please don’t look – it’s a family thing you know!

Digbeth formally called Birmingham's Digital District

Whenever a minister comes to call it pays to have something to announce, so later today Birmingham City Council’s deputy leader Paul Tilsley will tell Lord Carter that:

I am pleased to announce that Birmingham will create a ‘Digital District’ that brings together the innovative, learning and creative sectors enabled through a next generation hi speed broadband infrastructure. Spanning several hundred acres from the creative industries in Digbeth, our science and technology sectors at Birmingham Science Park and our world class developments at Eastside, it will provide an exciting environment for our creative industries and young entrepreneurs. The digital district will act as a showcase and business demonstrator to attract new businesses and inward investment and offer a strategy for economic recovery. It will provide a digital infrastructure that captures the ambitions of the Digital Britain Report, where the creative and digital media sectors and knowledge intensive businesses are able exploit the potential that high bandwidth conveys through the creation of new and exciting media content and job opportunities.

Very nice. That’s where I work! Does that mean that Digbeth will get better mobile phone reception and something as high tech as a cash point?

"Government of the web, not just on the web" Digital Britain Report

“Government of the web, not just on the web”

is a critical sentence in today’s Digital Britain report.  Digital Britain is udoubtedly wide ranging, but if you’re interested in how the internet affects how we gover ourselves then you’ll want to skim through the Executive Summary (pdf -why?) until you hit point 74 and then spend some time reading Chapter 8: The Journey to Digital Government (also pdf).

So what does “Government of the web” mean?

1 Transactions: first it’s how we use the internet to do business with government (CH 8 point 16):

We propose starting a Digital Switchover of Public Services Programme in 2012. We will need to consider in more detail the ramifications of switching each service to digital but an initial list might include:

  • Student loans
  • Companies House registration
  • Personal tax returns for higher rate taxpayers
  • Electoral roll registration
  • School registration
  • Redundancy advice processing
  • Debt advice

It’s not a list that leaves my heart  a flutter.  Many digitally literate folk will already do some of these (which suggests, as ever, literacy is core).  However to force people to do some things that are core to many lives, such as school registration, only online will also encourage digital literacy.  Such ambitions are  only possible because of the policy to ensure everyone has access to broadband by the same time (even though it’s a very modest 2Mbs speed).

2 Procurement:  sounds dead yawnsome, but the paragragh 26 (CH 8) of the report wants to make it easier for smaller more innovative businesses to win government IT contracts. If that works it may accelerate the use of open source software and faster development and encourage the growth of some fine small businesses.  The simplest example of this is the 10 Downing Street website, built on wordpress at far lower than expected cost.

3 Data: Let me just quote the report.

Government has accepted the vision of the POI report, and set out in its paper of 13th May 2009 a series of initiatives aimed at achieving the principles of Open Information, Open Innovation, Open Discussion and Open Feedback as outlined below. Government is still working on some of these recommendations and an update on progress is planned for the Summer.  The Cabinet Office will take a leadership role in catalysing this change.

That’s progress, the interim report didn’t even mention the Power of Information Task Force.

That’s about it.  The report has moved slightly beyond an understanding that Digital and Government is simply about transaction, but no far.  It is fundamentally about democracy.