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Local 2.0 Network Meeting

May 7, 2010

We had a meeting of the Local 2.0 network last week, hosted by Kensington and Chelsea. Wiltshire Council attended their first meeting as members of the network, whilst Bristol City Council and the London Borough of Redbridge also came along to talk about some of the work they had been doing.

Here’s a brief synopsis of some of the conversation:

  • We presented a new model to help local authorities approach social media with less fear, which we make available shortly following some fine tuning.
  • Public services will have to be more ‘enabling’ with impendng cuts in public finance, and web 2.0 will be much more relevant to a wider range of council offiers. The Young Foundation has recently released two  publications  of relevance to this, which focus on the relationship between people and public services: a paper on the relational state and a report for the Cabinet Office looking at new tools to build relational capital.
  • Lots of discussion about the practicalities of local government implementing web 2 stuff. Experience from council hosted online forums suggests that discussion can be quite political and it can take quite a bit of training to get effective moderation, especially if canny residents start using ‘coded language’. If forums are hosted by the council, discussions often revert back to being about the council rather than issues.
  • There was quite a bit of interest in user generated news and it was felt that locality related news would be of the most interest to people. We’d like to work on this as part of the project – People’s Voice Media do some good stuff in the north of the country.

Both Bristol and Redbridge talked about their experiences of using social technology. Some examples of whats going on incude:

  • The Redbridge Conversation  – an exercise in asking residents about their priorities for investment. Over 5000 responses, and seen to work well because it asked people to make real trade offs, with realistic budgets e.g. do you want to spend money on improved teaching facilities in a school? Well, you’ll have to sell some land to do so. The rules based approach used in the exercise allows for things like stautory duties to be incorporate, for example, do you want to cut this service? Sorry, you can’t because you have to provide it by law.
  • Bristol have an online participatory budgeting tool that allows users to submit ideas on how £15,ooo can be spent in an area of the city.
  • Bristol also have quite a few ‘ideas’ maps online. These are quite cool, allowing residents to submit ideas about particular topics on a map. There is one for an action plan for the centre of the city, one for cycling and one for noise
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