Tag: David Cameron

Social Media Surgery movement wins the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award – hurrah!

Big Society Awards 2012 logo looks like a street name plate

I’m very excited to be able to say that the Prime Minister has recognised social media surgeries with a Big Society Award for 2012.

The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010 to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrate the Big Society in their work or activities. The aim is also to galvanise others to follow.  David Cameron said this about the surgeries:

“This is an excellent initiative – such a simple idea and yet so effective. The popularity of these surgeries and the fact that they have inspired so many others across the country to follow in their footsteps, is testament to its brilliance.

“Congratulations to Nick and all the volunteers who have shared their time and expertise to help so many local groups make the most of the internet to support their community. A great example of the Big Society in action.”

Thank you for such kind words – to which we responded formally with:

“It’s wonderful to have recognition for everyone who has organised a social media surgery or turned up to volunteer their help.  I think the surgeries work because they are simple.  They are very easy to organise, fun to do and not in the least bit intimidating for people who want some help. They give active citizens and community groups the confidence and skills to use social media to campaign, organise and hold power to account.  They’ve grown because of the passion and energy of bloggers and voluntary groups up and down the country.”


The idea of a social media surgery originated with Pete Ashton – who used them with people who were looking for free help from his consultancy supporting arts organisations. We then applied the relaxed approach in a new way, scaling it up and putting together two sets of people – lovely helpers from the Birmingham Bloggers group (started in 2007) with the fab active citizens I’d had met through Read more

Fanning the flames of GovSpark

govspark  energy use in government

Very late on Tuesday night I was asked a question on twitter – can you help get a government site up in short order?  The question was prompted by this.

GovSpark is a simply wonderful idea from 16 year old coder Isabell Long that emerged from Emma Mulqueeny’s Young Rewired State.  Isabell wrote last month…

I came up with the idea because the government had just released some live and historical energy consumption data, but it was all held on the respective department websites and not central anywhere. GovSpark aims to be the central website for people to go so that they can see what the energy consumption of a certain department is at that time. The government also have targets to reduce usage by 80% by 2050, so I thought it would be a good tool to show how well one department is doing compared to another department.

Because it was Emma asking we said yes.  Glyn Wintle had already sweated to build an API which ran off live data for energy use in government buildings in Whitehall.  We were given less than a day to help push it across the finishing line by deciding what it ought to look like and making it look that way. Josh Hart coded like a lunatic and the talented and calm Ryan Dean-Corke of Substrakt sorted out some visuals for us.

As the Downing Street website reported this morning…

The Prime Minister has today challenged Whitehall Ministries to compete to slash the energy used in their departmental headquarters over the month of October.

The league table application, called GovSpark, will show data from the 18 Government Real Time Displays. The original prototype for GovSpark was developed by Isabell Long, aged 16, during Young Rewired State 2010, an event run for young developers aged 15-18 working with open government data.

It’s always a pleasure to help something good happen, in fact that’s what we are here for really.  The best bit was a short e-mail from a clearly chuffed Isabell

It looks amazing – I really love it! Everything has finally come together! 🙂

In less than a month in total Isabell’s idea has turned into site which is running a blindingly simple competition to help civil servants use less energy.    It gives civil servants the information and incentive to switch things off, or find way to cut emissions.

We can only take a tiny bit of credit for helping.  The site was sponsored and funded by The Stationery Office and the real work, before our last scramble, came from Glyn and Emma Mulqueeny.  Thanks very much to Sarah Marshall for spotting Emma’s cry for help and asking us to get involved.

Balsall Heath and the Big Society

This video by Demos tells the story of how my neighbourhood and the people in it are doing work which fits with the governments Big Society idea.  David Cameron has visited Balsall Heath a number of times and Dick Atkinson who’s in the video, was at the Downing Street launch of the Big Society.  Nowrah the main woman in the film is one of the people helping us run the Balsall Heath Social Media Surgery.

That’s all I want to say at the moment – lots of thoughts bubbling at the moment on the Big Society – but enjoy the video.

Stuff I've seen July 28th and July 29th

These are my links for July 28th through to July 29th:

  • David Cameron’s missing a Twitter trick | John Prescott | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk – Interesting and true: “More and more politicians are blogging, vlogging and tweeting. Interestingly, according to the Hansard Society, MPs like me born before 1940 are more likely to blog than their younger colleagues.”
  • Rewired State Projects – Young Rewired State is a weekend event emulating the success of ReWired State’s National Hack the Government Day, but this time with hackers aged 15-18.
  • Data & Stuff – Neil Houston so enjoyed doing some spare time data journalism he’s started blogging about it.
  • localcommunities – Who’s who – David Wilcox has pulled together a very fine summary of lots of community digital media activity.
  • Autocar – New tech to cut congestion – Dominic Gill, Microsoft regional manager, said: “This is the first application to use available data intuitively to put real power in the hands of individuals to make and refine travel plans.“The strategy of linking with information sources so they can react to an individual’s changing circumstances will transform people’s travelling experiences.”