Public Sector Meet-Up – The story of the Public Sector, Social Reporting + Gov2Radio

I was contacted by Allison Hornery from Gov20 radio recently which led to me giving a short overview of what Devon has been doing around thinking and doing digital – the result of which will be available shortly on the Gov20 radio website as a podcast.

However in conversation with Allison she mentioned that she is coming to the UK shortly and wondered whether anyone in Devon or the south west would be interested in an informal meet-up to chat about how we can tell the story of the Public Sector, social reporting and opportunities around Gov2Radio.

We also spoke about Open Space South West and how this will hopefully encourage greater conversation across the region, therefore it might be nice to see this meet-up as a small lead up event to the main Open Space Event in September…well maybe not 🙂

Allison is available week beginning 2nd July and we are suggesting a couple of hours say 3pm – 5pm in Exeter.

So – can you let me know whether you are interested in a meet-up to talk about the public sector narrative, social reporting and opportunities and lessons from gov2radio – which days are good for you by completing the poll below – I’ll be going with the most popular day.

Some more information about Gov 20 Radio as taken directly from the website…

For more than three years, Gov 2.0 Radio has been where thought leaders and decision-makers, practitioners and civic innovators have come to tune in to important trends.

Voices for proactive innovation and change

We’re emerging as not just a podcast but a place where people can learn to find their voice on “connected government” in all its forms… e-gov, gov 2.0, open gov and more… as well as on shaping positive change through innovation in the public sphere.

We aspire to challenge thinking that’s become too stale and – while we aren’t a solutions provider – to provide signposts to where sustainable solutions may lie.

Our vision is that by being an effective, useful and respected channel, we can play a small role in accelerating positive change where it’s most needed.

Tech enabling cultural shifts

It’s no news that connective tech is one of the most powerful enablers within every public jurisdiction – both within the community of government as well as between government and its publics.

But the technology is only an enabler and, for us, Gov 2.0 and open gov are important cultural shifts in the way we all – that’s all of us – do government.

The vision of sound

We aim to broaden the podcast distribution as widely and equitably as possible. Video is funky, but we like audio because it’s easier, cheaper and faster to capture and showcase candid, emerging practice. Audio is also low bandwidth and has a lower barrier to entry for many people. This is key to making more Gov 2.0 Radio content more accessible – not only in those agencies with limited net access but, importantly, to practitioners in emerging economies as well.

We’re about amplifying the voices of connected government & public innovation.

In 2012 and onwards, our goal for the rebooted
Gov 2.0 Radio is to help a much wider community inside and outside government to “find their voice” around their passions and concerns for connected government.


Announcing Open Space South West #OpenSSW

For those of you who have seen the UKGovCamp Grants website, you may have noticed that there was an event called Open Space South West that I put a bid in for and luckily I was one of the many events to get some financial support – So right up front I’d like to thank Steph and Dave and those organisations who helped create the pot of money in the first place.

It was originally down as South West Local Gov Camp – but I wanted to do something a little different to try to reach a slightly different and more diverse audience.

So it will be different to the usual govcamp events, therefore it is called Open Space South West instead – simple as that 🙂

I’ve put in some basic details below, whilst I get a website sorted in the next couple of weeks which will have links to the tickets and speaker details (yes some speakers).

Open Space South West – the hashtag = #OpenSSW

Date – Friday 14th September

How is it different to a GovCamp event?
Some of the key differences are:

  • It is a Friday (yes a work day) – the 14th September to be precise – 9.30am – 5pm
  • It will be at Coaver Conference Centre, County Hall, Exeter.
  • It will have some speakers who will be providing a 15 minute inspiration/challenge
  • It will have a delegate contract

Some more details on the delegate contract
As a delegate my commitment is to turn up, listen, challenge, participate and take responsibility for my own personal learning and development outcomes and to share my learning openly via the event or other linked website(s).

Partners / Supporters / Sponsors

If you would like to provide support then get in touch via the comments – Specifically I’d welcome contributions towards getting additional wifi sorted (£800) in return you get your logo on the wifi login screen and I’d also welcome some additional contributions towards lunch and refreshments.

There isn’t as of yet any informal “night before” or” after event” activities planned, but again if anyone wishes to make some contributions towards those that would be very welcome – again get in touch via comments or direct message me on twitter.

I’m not planning at this stage to have free gifts,  t-shirts or goodie bags but I’m open to offers if someone wishes to help with this?

The following organisations are already providing support in various ways – so a BIG thank you to them.

#UKGC12 – beyond the bullet points

On Sunday i quickly posted some initial thoughts, albeit some very random about my experience at UKGC12…this post aims to go slightly deeper, beyond the bullet points.

– we have moved beyond an event just for geeks…I’m only a feel in relative terms…it doesn’t matter that policy folk, councillors or suits don’t attend…this is where the variety of localised events will offer and add value…another point to note is that govcamp was and should never be an event just for people on twitter…however if our not on twitter it is hard to get a ticket directly.

– i finally understand the underlying reason and motivation for the first ukgovcamp – having the opportunity to chat to Jeremy Gould was great, he was the behind the first govcamp event….the main reason was to simply connect people together…not people to decision makers…or central to local gov…this is where the constructive disruption came from…how does that sit with the new GDS, probably in my view no different to how govcamp has always been…whilst they focus on mainstreaming digital…govcamp will maintain its role on the edge providing valuable nudges and challenge…if I doesn’t we have all failed.

– Social change and supporting the development of social capital is still a primary motivator for me…technology is a distraction the majority of the time…a disproportionate amount of time is spent talking about technology first without stating the problems or outcomes people want to see. I read the some thought govcamp was about government and IT…my views has always been that govcamp is for people who simply want to push things forward and make progress.

– creating better democratic organisations which allow social capital to improve should be a focus and how internally we can empower people better to support those aims…we shouldn’t be talking about Facebook groups or social intranets in my opinion as these distract from the underlying problems and also provide too narrow a scope to think differently about how we approach these challenges…we need to start thinking and documenting the capabilities required to support more democratic and open organisations…we are assuming that simply creating a social intranet, an organisation will change…Social media inside an organisation is a facilitator…it is the presence of Injustice, inequality, repression and aspiration that stimulates progress – Social media or a social intranet does not magically force existing leadership to change or learn.

– content strategy is a game changer – changing the thinking built up over the las 10 years since the start of the egovernment agenda – this triggered the anti-user approach in developing websites in my humble opinion…it essentially turned sites that were aimed at users into mediocre corporately assimilated content waste lands…lacking in any meaning as to how to build and manager a community and help move aspects of communications and service interaction into more efficient channels…but that is the past…we can learn from it, but we must first recognise the mistakes we made…not everyone made them but most did…this is all just my opinion of course but localgov as a community needs to think about how it develops its online and digital offering better – perhaps in a similar reboot approach taken by the GDS…it does not matter what you call it…but it does need to think about some key principles, for example one might be.. getting content to people and not people to websites…this then provides the drivers for your content in social spaces as opposed to having a specific focus on social media….this does not mean you shouldn’t develop specific channel standards, in fact this reinforces the need for standards within channels…but based on managing your content flow in it and how you might monitor or measure it.

– all the conversations and activity around the networked society, participation and democracy are actually what we should all be focusing on…without effective participation, transparency and accountability, the Facebook groups, blogs, twitter accounts are all just window dressing and papering over the cracks…this is why I personally value the open data and linked data work

– without communities like ukgc and generally the social networks I’ve built… I’d feel very isolated as often my ideas come across as “wacky”, “off the wall”, “a bit out there” and with the peer review and challenge those ideas are challenged in an environment where I’m not expected to know it all…in the council you are paid to know this stuff, but without the connections I’d know very little and be less effective and more likely I’d probably not have a job. I am honoured to be able to participate in those communities and have made some really good friends.

– Reputations are not just built up online – you actually need to do something…I’m tackling that as it was noticeably lacking from the last 2 years of my working life – I developed a lot of theories and thoughts and have been lucky to have a few decent outputs – social media policy being the most popular on my blog here…but I personally need to achieve more…tackle the bigger issues, get involved on a different level and on a different scale…

– I was surprised that I didn’t hear people talking about the impact of localism and the theme most councils are looking at which is commissioning on how we tackle some of the big issues…this is another reason why i think common standards and frameworks are important…maybe this is still too early for people but recent experience of govcamps made me assume (wrongly) that it would be discussed. I should have suggested a session on simply hearing from others how the think it will change or not change things…

– Finally – tomorrow never comes, do something today…

Reflecting on #UKGC12

I sit here on Sunday, my voice gone, I actually do feel properly ill as well and my head full of things to move forward…

I’ve caught up on the UKGC12 flickr images and hashtag stream today (counting the number of hashtag violations and hashtag security risks – nods and smiles to Dave Briggs) and thought that i should capture my early thoughts…Dan Slee suggested 20 thoughts, so I’ll give that a try, although can’t promise on 20.

Fortunately for me the solo session (Reflective Practice aka the hangover quiet space) I pitched last minute on Saturday when hearing that room 12 would be empty all day provided me with much needed head space and good conversation with the likes of Dave, Jeremy Gould, Sarah Lay and a few others who dipped in and out throughout the day to share in our peacefulness and our snacks (carefully borrowed from the main snack table). I can’t remember them all but they included Martin Howitt, Harry Harold, Mary McKenna, Lloyd Davis…

So my first main reflections on UKGC12

1) I think local government loses out too often and as a sector we should replicate the process that the Government Digital Service is doing across local government in a way that makes sense and maintains local accountability.

2) Spending nearly 5 hours or more in a dark room at Microsoft HQ in London, with snacks, drinks and plenty of interesting and funny conversation reinforces my view that UKGC12 has provided me with not just connections but great friends who I adore and respect.

3) It is a pleasure to participate in an event which has contributed to so much across local and central government that I wish in some way we could provide a benefits map on UKGC across the years as I don’t believe anyone would have progressed as much without these events existing and breaking barriers around digital

4) You never get enough time to simply chat with folk about anything – the reflective practice session should be a standing item at all govcamps.

5) Never go out straight out after a govcamp without at least a backup plan to get food as you will suffer the next day for it.

6) Regardless of what some people may think public service people are great fun, innovative and most of all passionate

7) You don’t need to be in every session to gain value from the event – the time away from work and the space to reflect and be challenged is worth every second.

8) London is very noisy at night…if you are from a quieter part of the country take ear plugs for a better nights sleep.

9) I don’t really think a continental breakfast can be classed as a proper breakfast

10) I’m not sure we provide enough support for noobies who may not be confident to start conversations….maybe we should consider a buddy system simply for the first few sessions with the aim of helping these people meet new people.

11) Everyone praises Dave and Steph and rightly so, but what is more important is that they have ensured that the event doesn’t and can’t be taken over by a government department. The freedom and independence is a major strength.

12) I’m not sure if 2 days works but I did think the making stuff sessions did…so we should allow more flexibility in future events for people to pitch up in a room all day to build something amazing.

13) Attending on a Friday made UKGC12 feel different but I still can’t quite put my finger on how…something to do with the expectation on people to justify the time out of the office…also different people attend on Saturdays for different reasons…one to ponder more!!

14) Paying extra (all from my own pocket) to travel first class on the train is well worth it after a very tiring few days.

15) Finally, people are not aware of the dangers and challenges around hashtag vulnerability, hashtag penetration and hashtag optimisation…if you want to know more contact Dave ASAP.

More thoughts and reflections to come as well as a proper write up of my thoughts and views.

That time of year #UKGC12

So it is that time of year when a dedicated crew of local and central government folk and those who are passionate about moving it forward come together over two whole days.

The event of course is UKGC12 and for me personally represents an opportunity to reconnect with people, get inspired by people and be challenged by people.

I always go into these events with my eyes wide open and I prepare to go home either validating thoughts and ideas or changing direction, but I always go home energised and motivated (even if a little tired).

The first day back at work used to be a downer, but things have changed for me and I know that I’ll go back and be able to make things happen and to contribute to moving things forward for the council.

As the next few days are about to kick off, I look forward to meeting old friends and making new ones.

The UKGC12 events feel like a family reunion, but without the annoying family members who you’d rather not see. There isn’t a single person who attends who isn’t going to offer fascinating conversation. So if you are new to the event, don’t panic, spark up a conversation and don’t worry if you don’t get to speak to everyone you planned to…stay connected online.