a Concept for Devon Online – version 2

My previous post on this topic sparked a number of great conversations offline with colleagues as well as some pointers to other interesting posts, one by Dave Briggs.

I was also made aware of the following interesting websites:

So here is my current thinking around a new blueprint and vision.

A pan Devon web presence that virtually brings together the wealth of information about and services for residents and visitors, that enriches their experience and online journey.

  1. Increasing visibility and profile of Devon, our people and communities
    1. providing opportunities to showcase Devon, our communities and people
    2. supporting platforms for community collaboration and community planning activities
  2. Ensuring aggregation and facilitating reuse and re-purposing of content (mash-ups and content strategy)
    1. making best use of existing data and content to ensure that it is presented in the right place, at the right time and for the right audience
    2. supporting a content strategy approach to best understand and manage the flow of information
  3. Enabling, supporting and encouraging online participation, community collaboration and e-democracy opportunities
    1. supporting and encouraging online participation methods which demonstrate added value
    2. encouraging more involvement in local “communities of interest” and providing a framework for wider democratic engagement
  4. Facilitating and supporting information exchange – Person – Community – Devon – the World
    1. enabling connections and providing greater opportunities to share and collaborate with others
    2. encouraging and supporting participation in the digital world e.g. through new and social media tools
  5. Focusing on the needs of users and not being bound by political boundaries
    1. ensuring that political boundaries are not a barrier to delivering an excellent online customer journey
    2. encourage and develop partnerships for service and information provision
  6. Encouraging Trust – Brand recognition, validity and reliability of content
    1. providing a clear identity and accountability of service

Outline Architecture

(non technical viewpoint) The architecture needs to support the separation of the “backoffice” and the “presentation layer”. This enables the delivery of widgets/mash-ups etc from locations outside of the main council platform to be integrated more effectively and within the overall style and design of the main site.

The basic principle is that the site is a hybrid mix of mash-ups and standard text and services.

The following represents the broad tools that are shaping my thinking in terms of functionality and user interaction:

  • Blogs—each member can have their own blog, and blog entries can be aggregated into collective views (e.g., most recent posts, most active contributors, highest rated posts, etc.)
  • Microblogging—users will be able to share there thoughts and ideas, as well as receiving updates from others about important information linked via SMS
  • Discussions—create threaded discussion forums where members reply to posts from other members
  • Wikis—a post from one member can be edited by another member, maintaining version and author history
  • Videos—upload and share videos
  • Photos—upload photos, embed images in posts, create photo albums
  • Calendars—mark events and posts on a personal or group calendar
  • Content Tagging—members can “tag” content to allow other members to find that content via “tag clouds” or through content aggregation
  • Geospatial tagging – content will have GPS data attached for location based content
  • Mapping—apply “geo tags” to display content or member location on a map
  • RSS feeds—use RSS to incorporate content from external sources, or create RSS feeds to syndicate content to other sources and users
  • Podcasts—upload and syndicate podcasts
  • Bookmarks—mark and share URLS with other members
  • Voting & Rating—vote on content and aggregate the results
  • Status-members can update the community and their friends on what they are doing

All comments are welcome (except spam)


9 thoughts on “a Concept for Devon Online – version 2

  1. Carl, this is an impressive and ambitious vision – and well done for sharing it.

    I think you are right to decide to go for a mix of aggregating the stuff that’s already online whilst also allowing people to upload content. I, for example, have a Flickr account and would prefer to use that. More people don’t, though, and will want to upload direct.

    On the Flickr point, there will be loads of groups set up on there for Devon and parts of the County – well worth ingratiating yourself with these people and getting them on board, I would think.

    One thing I would warn about the technology you have identified – status updates + microblogs + blogs + forums is, I think, too much. I would pick two out of the list (my choice would be status updates and blogs). What you really don’t want to end up with is having people unsure which to use for their content, get fed up and so don’t use any.

    Also be careful about what you call things – especially blogs and wikis, again it’s about managing people’s fears and encouraging them to try stuff out.

    Overall it’s a great plan. Good luck getting the powers that be to agree to it!

  2. Thanks Dave,

    I think you are right about using too many tools to start with. I think i will need to ensure the right blend and the right levels of “inbuilt/embedded tools” as well as consistent links with existing tools online such as flickr.

  3. Another few websites for you to peruse:


    I think your aims are spot on. My suggestion would be to remove most of the functionality that requires direct input into the website, since it’ll only look underused and stay relatively static – I’m not confident that Devon is quite ready for the level of interaction suggested by your list of functions. I’d concentrate on reflecting the changing ‘virtual’ world of Devon through the website by ensuring other can represent their news & changing content through the website. So a very simple first step would be to ensure all ‘news’ items on Devon based websites are tagged and reflected on the website.

    I hope that makes sense – most of the time I barely understand it myself!!

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