Tag: elections

Stuff I've seen February 13th through to February 14th

These are my links for February 13th through February 14th:

  • Local council elections in 2010 « LGiU – the local democracy blog – At the BBC I loved organising and doing election coverage. (Genuinely did) This post shows that while the Local Government Information unit was thinking there are 166 local councils holding elections on May 6th the researchers I used to rely on, Rallings and Thrasher reckon there are 176. This can't be a tricky single data source problem to crack!
  • Google Code Blog: Announcing Google Chart Tools
  • BBC – The Virtual Revolution Blog: BBC Digital Revolution rushes for you to download and edit – Argued for this in 1999 – great to see it happening. The most embarrassing bits of the rushes (un-edited video) are the ones when the producer reporter is making people do/say what they need them to do. That may well be the stuff left out! "Releasing rushes like this is an experiment, and there are some limitations. We're not releasing all our rushes, for two reasons. Firstly, we have a compliance procedure at the BBC which means that all online video has to be viewed by a senior manager – there's simply too much footage to do this properly. We do estimate that we will be releasing around 5 hours of interview material, featuring 20-30 interviewees, and up to an hour of other content."
  • Blogging and Facebook for councillors – Councillor Mary Reid offers you the benefit of her experience. She offers top tips on how councillors can make the most of blogs and social network media. (thanks to @pigsonthewing )
  • PC Ed Rogerson (hotelalpha9) on Twitter – This is one of my favourite bits of the web for the crossover between social media, very local stuff and public service: "Just had a meeting with my Sergeant. I've been instructed to conduct more speed checks in Starbeck and to seize tobacco off children."

Derbyshire County Council elections – a social media experiment.

Above is Sarah Lay from Derbyshire County Council talking about her recent experience of using social media to tell the story of  the council elections of 4th June 2009.  As SOCITM the organisations which represents the folk who run council websites, puts it:

County Councils saw their web traffic double last Friday and Saturday thanks to their provision of a sophisticated online election results service coupled with use of social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds and email alerts.

Sarah describes how the council announced the results straight onto twitter (followers trebled), plus offering an election map and a virtual council chamber.  They also used a Facebook fan page (yes 74 people claimed themselves fans of a local election) where people were able to have their own conversation about the results.

In effect they by-passed mainstream media.   This system treats journalists just the same as any other citizen, offering us all the same information at the same time and space to talk about it.   However this is also good news for journalism, because it allows the professionals to spend increasingly precious time checking for truth and getting to the bottom of the implications of the election, rather than simply shoveling fact.

Sarah has written in much more detail on her own blog.  In the first of two posts, on election day itself, she wrote with great passion about preparations:

All of this has been going on for a number of months (not full time) and has been a learning curve and exciting project for this team to get into. For the first time we have had a significant presence internally in promoting and reporting on elections. It’s provided an opportunity for us to raise awareness of our work internally and work with colleagues in other departments to enable everything to happen.
Our results system will hopefully be the jewel in the crown of what we’ve done so far. We won’t know until the dust settles tomorrow and we have some feedback from Derbyshire voters, councillors, other officers and colleagues in the public sector who are kind enough to take the time to have a look.

After the elections she said:

I am still a little emotionally charged from the adrenalin of working at such pressure yesterday and giddy with the joy of how well our team worked together on the day and in the run up. Now we just need to decide what to tackle next!

Simon Wakeman at Medway Council was one of a number of people who gave support and encouragement to Derbyshire and other councils embarking on this path. He has written about how a variety of local authorities used the social web on election night.  Also on Sarah’s list of supporters was Al Smith in Newcastle.

All the above was recorded at the truly wonderful localgovcamp, held here at Fazeley Studios in Brum

“Councils are no longer dependent on traditional media to communicate their messages”

This has come from Vicky Sargeant at the Socitm press office and I offer it to you verbatim simply because I don’t have time to fully digest it and add links just now, there doesn’t seem to be a apge to link too, but I don’t want to forget to share it with you:

News Release:

County Councils saw their web traffic double last Friday and Saturday thanks to their provision of a sophisticated online election results service coupled with use of social media tolls like Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds and email alerts.

Figures from the Socitm Website Takeup service, subscribed to by more than half of all county councils show that on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th June, web traffic to county council websites was more than double that of the Friday and Saturday of the previous week.

This trend is bourne out by results from individual councils like Derbyshire, which last Friday saw the highest ever number of visits to its website in one day including more than 19,000 visits to its election section alone.

The sophistication of the election results coverage by councils through their websites has been captured through a survey by Socitm Insight, publishers of the annual Better connected report on council website quality. The survey looked at websites of county councils and new unitaries where elections had been held to see how the results were being reported. It followed a similar exercise carried out at the last county elections in May 2005.

The survey found that almost all councils were reporting results on their websites ‘live’ or as near to real-time as possible and were carrying very prominent links and features on the home page. Many included some form of interactive map, summary tables and charts or other graphics to allow visitors to follow the results as they happened and to access a summary in various forms. Some councils provided TV style graphics including ‘virtual council chambers’ filling up with figures in party colours as the results came in.

A few councils provided a live online comparison with previous election results, showing whether seats were being held, lost or gained. A number of councils stated when the count was due to start, but even better were councils who offered an estimate as to what time the first result was likely to be expected.

Nine councils were also promoting their use of RSS feeds and / or Twitter to publish the results, using these opportunities for to enhance their interaction with the public through these new channels. During the results period, fans on Derbyshire’s Facebook page rose from 22 to 73 and their Twitter account followers rose from 122 to 335. Derbyshire’s Facebook ‘fans’ were contributing comments, and responding to one another as the day unfolded. One said ‘Local newspaper site reporting recounts in Long Eaton while Twitter and @derbyshirecc knows its over. SO behind. V. poor compared to you guys. Many thanks for all the hard work pulling this together today’.

Other innovations noted on election pages included:

  • Norfolk County Council – featured its YouTube video on why you should vote
  • Lancashire County Council – offered the facility to subscribe to receive results by e-mail
  • North Yorkshire County Council – featured a video about how the democratic process works

Surrey County Council – charts included a summary of holds and a swing chart
‘Our survey provides evidence of the opportunity local councils now have to use their website and social media tools to engage with and inform local people as never before’, says Martin Greenwood, Programme Director for Socitm Insight. ‘Councils are no longer dependent on traditional media to communicate their messages and can outperform them anyway as a source of immediate, authoritative and totally up to date information – we have seen this with local emergencies like flooding, and now with elections. Councils should be seizing this new opportunity with both hands.’

More Socitm news here.

Links for May 10th

  • NewBizNews: Hyperlocal « BuzzMachine – The value of volunteering: This is the hardest to calculate but is critical to the local models: People are contributing to the newssphere because they want to, because they care. With help, I’m confident they’ll do more. That’s part of what we’re trying to discover at CUNY in our work with The Local at the New York Times: how communities can be supported to report on themselves. This could be podcasting a school-board meeting or crowdsourcing projects or looking up records. This, like new ad models, will be the subject of some speculative brainstorming. And it will be difficult to put numbers to it. But it’s critical.
  • Mediabox – New strand Mini Mediabox – with grants from £1,500 – £5,000 is now open. Mini Mediabox is for grassroots and community organisations with an annual turnover of £100k or under, designed to enable smaller organisations to access funding for their youth-led projects.
  • Home | Nominet Trust – We aim to support distinctive and inventive Internet-related projects that can make a difference to people, primarily in the areas of education, online safety and inclusion. With our grants we back programmes and organisations using IT to benefit society. The Nominet Trust is a charity created by Nominet, which maintains the .uk register of domain names and is one of the world’s largest Internet registries.
  • The Straight Choice | The election leaflet project – Election leaflets are one of the main weapons in the fight for votes in the UK. They are targeted, effective and sometimes very bitter. We need your help to photograph and map them so we can keep an eye on what the parties are up to, and try to keep them honest.
  • Murdoch: Web sites to charge for content – CNN.com – “I suspect within any readership there is a small slice — maybe three percent — that is willing to pay. News organizations are going to have to find a way of getting money from that slice without driving away everybody else,”