Tag: Local Government

Fair Brum: Using Social Media For Consultation – Have your say about Social Inclusion in Birmingham

Fair Brum Social Inclusion Summit 20th July 2012

For the last few months we’ve supported Birmingham City Council with their Fair Brum social inclusion process. We worked with groups and individuals to show them how they could take conversations they were having with residents of Birmingham about social inclusion over to online places, to try and engage with even more people.

We supported council staff, academics and others interested in using social media to share their stories, experiences and findings of social inclusion in Birmingham. We provided them with the skills that meant they were able to contribute to, or comment on, the process via the FairBrum blog – or on their own sites – and tweet via their own accounts using the #fairbrum tag. We also helped create content and conversation by social reporting from some of their events.

As of 4th September 2012, we found the #fairbrum tag on Twitter has been used 1,600 times and appeared 1,591,590 times. That’s the gross number of times the #fairbrum tag has appeared in Twitter users’ timelines since the start of the process. (Yes, it’s an enormous number – we know not that many pairs of eyes have clocked it!)

Those numbers continued to rise. When we looked at the figures this morning the tag had been used a total of 2,479 times and appeared 2,170,039 times.

All this interaction, along with the findings of offline interactions, has been looked at to see what Birmingham’s needs are. As a result, a green paper was produced with recommendations on how we can work together across the city to address social inclusion.

Recommendations are split into seven groups:

They are all available to view, discuss and comment on, online at fairbrum.podnosh.com.

The consultation has been running for a while now. This weekend is the last chance for you to have your say, as the consultation closes on Monday, 5th November.

Follow the links above to view the groups of recommendations and click through to individual posts to add your thoughts. You can also let them know if you work for an organisation already doing what’s being recommended and add yourself to the map.


Hansard at a local level – MySociety wants help to capture what happens in your local council.

I love mysociety – their TheyWorkForYou tools have made MP’s far more accountable than before.  Now they want to apply this to local fovernment and are looking for unofficial transcribers:

One of the key differences between the UK’s national parliament and its local governments is that Parliament produces a written record of what gets said – Hansard.

This practice – which has no actual legal power – still has a huge impact on successful functioning of Parliament. MPs share their own quotes, they quote things back to one-another, journalists cite questions and answers, and every day TheyWorkForYou sends tens of thousands of email alerts to people who want to know who said what yesterday in Parliament. Without freely available transcripts of Parliamentary debates, it is likely that Parliament would not be anything like as prominent an institution in British public life.

No Local Hansards

Councils, of course, are too poor to have transcribers, and so don’t produce transcripts. Plus, nobody wants to know what’s going on anyway. Those are the twin beliefs that ensure that verbatim transcripts are an exceptional rarity in the local government world.

At mySociety we think the time has come to actively challenge these beliefs. We are going to be building a set of technologies whose aim is to start making the production of written transcripts of local government meetings a normal practice.

These people could be active citizens – hyperlocal bloggers, councillors (perhaps even council officers) or just someone looking for a warm seat of an evening?

They says it doesn’t have to be everything that is recorded. I agree with this principle that’s it better to be there doing something than hold back because you can’t do everything.

Hansard is the record of pretty much everything that gets said in Parliament. This has led to the idea that if you don’t record everything said in every session, your project is a failure. But if Wikipedia has taught us anything, it is that starting small – producing little nuggets of value from the first day – is the right way to get started on hairy, ambitious projects. We’re not looking for people willing to give up their lives to transcribe endlessly and for free – we’re looking for people for whom having a transcript is useful to them anyway, people willing to transcribe at least partly out of self interest. We’re looking for these initial enthusiasts to start building up transcripts that slowly shift the idea of what ‘normal’ conduct in local government is.

Unlike Wikipedia we’re not really talking about a single mega database with community rules. Our current plans are to let you set up a database which you would own – just as you own your blog on Blogger or WordPress, perhaps with collaborators. Maybe you just want to record each annual address of the Lord Mayor – that’s fine. We just want to build something that suits many different people’s needs, and which lifts the veil on so much hidden decision making in this country.

I love it and hope it will also work alongside openlylocal’s fabulous work on transparency in local government.

Engaged Communities – Social Media Improving Neighbourhoods


The above exchange took place recently between Wv11 a hyperlocal blog in Wednesfield (*disclaimer* I am the co-founder of Wv11 – but this wasn’t me tweeting this time), Wolverhampton Parks and Wolverhampton Homes, the ALMO  (Aram Length Management Organisation) that looks after housing for Wolverhampton Council. It was a simple and common complaint involving litter.  There wasn’t an immediate solution as someone had to physically get out to the park  to deal with it but because the message was not only acknowledged positively but there was also a response given about the planned action, any other residents following this exchange knew something was planned to get the litter cleaned up and later on when it was dealt with they could see that the promise was carried through.

This wasn’t the first conversation of this sort to take part online and it surely wont be the last but to  my mind at least this kind of engagement can only improve communities.

It may start as small as getting rubbish collected from the park put just imagine the possibilities. If lots of people can take part in a wider conversations with service providers and local partners, if they are responded to as individuals and if they can see that not only are things are getting done as a result, but also see the processes in place that get them there they are more likely to engage in the future and feel part of the bigger picture that makes their neighbourhood tick.





Stuff I've seen September 27th through to September 29th

These are my links for September 27th through September 29th: