Am i missing something

Late last night i was thinking about twitter (why as i am on leave this week, well that is what the wife said when at midnight i sent an email to colleagues with some ideas) and how that could be used effectively in the workplace. It was easy enough to come up with a bunch of possible areas for use, all subject to further thought and investigation.

  • school closures
  • school communications to parents
  • emergency information
  • road closures
  • extreme weather
  • breaking news
  • ICT outages affecting the CSC
  • web application availability
  • election results as they happen
  • reminders for new legislation/regs coming into effect (eg parking)
  • consultation activities
  • local leisure activities
  • bulky waste collections
  • planning applications notifications

However what started to occur to me is that it does require a critical mass to be really effective in terms of the public signing up to receive what i think is the best aspect (sms messages). Also it is very similar to RSS feeds when talking to people who don’t use twitter? so do we really need both, i think for now yes plus many more but i’m not talking about them today.

I came to the conclusion that twitter can be an effective business tool and for some already is. It provides opportunities for 2 way communication for people and best of all you don’t have to use the web to benefit from it, providing you sign up once (with the 30 minutes free you get in all local libraries in the county – some cross service marketing :). You can use the sms aspect to send and receive messages, especially if you were a parent who had kids at a school, they could use twitter to inform you of any issues or if the was closed due to extreme weather.

All great stuff i was thinking, but again perhaps a critical mass required to benefit the school, as they would still need traditional methods as well. I guess what is wrong with that?

The challenge here is that as councils we need to create an information and web architecture that enables us to push and receive information via all channels of delivery. So it could be twitter today or facebook tomorrow or the main council website after that. For this reason we are changing our website along the lines of the BBC and Redbridge to provide a modular based website which seperates the front end presentation from teh back end systems and databases. So the website is in effect one very big web service. We are due to launch are new site in september with a number of follow on phases building up the widgets/gadgets or whatever your preferred term is for them.

The important point though surely is to ensure that the right information/service is available to the right person in the way in which they want to get it. Or am i missing something? Grand vision of Varney flows through me when i think of that!!

All the web 2.0 stuff reminds me of a kid in a sweetshop, all wonderful, nice colourful things, all different flavours, all different tastes, some last longer some are quick and delicious but we all have our own preferences as to what our favourite sweet is. Some people just don’t care to move from one thing to another, so how can we integrate the functionaility into teh mainstream delivery of our website and online citizen registration/authentication?

It all started drving me crazy and around in circles when i spotted this post via twitter from Dave Briggs

What is the role of government websites

The post highlights the following 5 areas that Gerry McGovern suggests are the 5 things we should be addressing

  1. Get away from a technology obsession
  2. Manage customer top tasks, not government websites
  3. Get politicians off government websites
  4. Stop government vanity publishing
  5. Develop a government archive

Now what is interesting about this is that it is so simple, why someone didn’t come up with this sooner is amazing….

However i would like to take this one step further if i may.

Instead of websites, why don’t we focus on Government Communications and Customer Service, perhaps too much too ask and perhpas way above my thinking at present.

But it seems a simple concept also and much aligned to what Gerry and Dave raise….

  1. Don’t focus on technology
  2. Deliver services out to the public (not just via our traditional channels)
    This is where we can adopt a council 2.0 approach and mash-up our services to give to others to deliver with and for us
  3. Focus on customer needs and profiles
  4. Communicate and deliver services around identified communities (geographic, by interest, offline, online)

As i said it is only emerging as a thought, perhaps it will end with this post, but i doubt it, for me it seems to be key to developing a future web strategy for my council. Feel free to comment and point out my misunderstandings in this area……

It is also very similar to an idea i had about 18 months ago for our countywide portal. I have spoken to people about it, it sounds a grand vision but actually on face value, it makes perfect sense.

I will share more on this idea over the coming weeks and i woudl like your input into that.

feel free to tell me i am mad and i should stop and or start medication…

But as i said, i could just be missing something….


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