New small tools for better government, horrid pdf's and the Power of Information Report in Beta

You’ve got two weeks to get your thoughts into the Power of Information Report.  They’ve offered it up on wordpress to allow people to start commenting. Compare this with how the same group were presenting information a year ago.Two chunks from the summary give you a flavour:

The public sector can play a valuable role in adding expert advice to support discussions online as long as it respects the context of the discussion.  This is a culture shift for people who work in public services and for civil servants in particular.  The Taskforce makes recommendations to help this culture shift and make more transparent the public sector’s attempts to engage online, which we think public servants should do as a matter of course.


Now is the ideal time for the public sector to acquire new skills and practices required to follow through the innovative approaches the Taskforce recommends.  Early signs from the Obama administration in the USA suggest that digital innovators in the Administration are thinking along about re-use of data along the lines above.  When mainstreaming any innovation, systemic culture and behaviour change is required. The Taskforce makes a range of recommendations to enable and embed those changes.

Tom Watson and  Richard Allan should be proud of where they are at.  Secretly Brum can also be. Why? Because it includes a complimentary reference to the Big City Talk work done by volunteer bloggers here in Birmingham.

The wordpress site has been created by the DIUS Social Media team. Steph Gray’s folk have also made Who Blocks?This fab tool is a survey of which social media sites government can and cannot access. The detailed results can be found here whilst the

The key problem areas then seem to be:  Online video, more than a third are unable to view YouTube videos correctly.  Social networking, nearly half are unable to access Facebook. Webmail, two fifths have access to Gmail blocked, perhaps for justifiable security reasons

    Steph has also been working with Harry Metcalfe on a simple site which should make future online consultation easier. It turns a “horrid” pdf into xml and html – which makes it much easier to use these cumbersome documents for much more agile websites. These in turn make consultation much richer and conversational.

    Something we were shown at Saturday’s hugely enjoyable UKGov Barcamp is:  Think of this as the opening to a playground for people who want to change the way the Directgov site works.  It’s inspired by the BBC Backstage model – to encourage exprimentation and improve the relationship between huge government web projects and smaller more nimble experimenters and rapid developers.

    Rewiredstate is already planning a hack day for government next month.

    Meanwhile Pez from Lichfield District Council has bunged together a useful page for aggregating material on local government api’s (tag localgovapi ) and I’m already in for helping to organise a localgovcamp here in Brum (probably).


    1. The Power of Information report is a really good example of how online consultations should be done. As is Big City Talk, of course.

      Thanks for the link to the API page, that’s really interesting. Hopefully it’s a resource that we can start adding to. I’m also very interested in the localgovcamp and I’m sure that other colleagues on Digi Brum would be interested in attending as well as helping out, maybe.

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