Timely information to citizens: Innovations in engaging citizens with service design and delivery

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Presentation given on 19th August 2009 at Fazeley studios, Digbeth, Birmingham. Event was about data mashing, sponsored by The Guardian and organised by Chris Unitt of Meshed Media.


  • 1.Timely information to citizens:Innovations in engaging citizens withservice design and delivery Dave Harte Economic Development Manager Digital Birmingham [email_address] http://www.digitalbirmingham.co.uk/blog @daveharte

2. 3. 4. 5.

  • What I do:

6. Today:

  • How Birmingham being great makes it easy to run our Timely Information project
    • Birmingham Open City
    • Social Media surgeries
    • BeVocal.org.uk
    • Project progress and issues

7. Birmingham Open City

  • Here's a few ideas - lots more.
  • The Open City Plan is a Web2.0 approach to generating collaboration, discussion, creativity, debate, data mashups and open source tools to enable the people of Birmingham to answer one question: "What do I want the city to be like in 25 years?"
  • Stef Lewandowski 4iP application

8. 9. Birmingham Open City

  • The problem is, that no matter what the Council do to try to communicate what is happening as part of the [Big City Plan] process, they are limited by their own requirements, party political fighting, out of date communication policies and structures.
  • Stef Lewandowski 4iP application

10. Social Media Surgeries 11. Timely Information

  • social media spirit + mash-up culture =
  • Who knows but could be good!

12. Clay Shirky Cognitive Surplus

  • Desperate Housewivesessentially functioned as a kind of cognitive heat sink, dissipating thinking that might otherwise have built up and caused society to overheat

13. Clay Shirky Cognitive Surplus

  • Someone working alone, with really cheap tools, has a reasonable hope of carving out enough of the cognitive surplus, enough of the desire to participate, enough of the collective goodwill of the citizens, to create a resource you couldn't have imagined existing even five years ago.

14. 15. Timely Information

  • social media spirit + mash-up culture + cognitive surplus =
  • Who knows but could be amazing!

16. Timely Information


17. Timely Information

  • An experiment in encouraging citizens to use public data in new ways

18. 19.

  • Brings together the story of how social media is being used for social good in Birmingham.
  • Gentle introductions to data stuff

20. 21. How the project works

  • Social Media Surgeries identify citizens concerns (+ capital equipment)
  • Source some data
  • Find clever people to help mash it up (or whatever)

22. 1. Identify citizens concerns

  • Moseley:
  • Strategic planning document
  • new ways to consult citizens
  • Accock Green:
  • mapping the issues

23. 1. Identify citizens concerns

  • Schools
  • Appeals and admissions?
  • Parking
  • Where not to park in Birmingham?

24. 2. Source some data

  • West Midlands Regional Observatory
  • API key
  • Be Birmingham
  • Super-output areas

25. 2. Source some data

  • Business Transformation (Service Birmingham)
    • Excellence in information management
    • data custodians
  • Open street map
  • Using citizens to gather data

26. 27. 3.Find clever people to mash it up (or whatever)

  • SMEs (supported by 4iP)
  • Dracos
  • Fizzpop
  • Social Media types having fun

28. The issues (not insurmountable)

  • Citizens: some are too far behind the curve.
  • Data: Too much hugging. OS issues.

29. A digital economy opportunity:

  • Cognitive surplus + Raw Data =
  • new and exciting area of the digital economy
  • Power of Information
  • Power of Birmingham group
  • Public sector meets active citizenship
  • Push to free up data

30. Digital Participation

  • Increased awareness would lead to more people engaging in digital participation. Building awareness of what it is possible to do quickly and easily online could encourage greater participation.
  • (Ofcom Citizen Participation research)

31. Summary this project

  • Birmingham vibrant scene to make this happen
  • Data still too much emphasis on City creating a resource from the data
  • This project about showing there are enough active, concerned and geeky citizens to create the resource for you.

32. Summary wider context

  • Power in Peoples Hands: Learning from the Worlds best Public Services:
  • Transforming accountability of services through realtime, highly local information, often delivered digitally
  • Empowering citizens in the information age using new technologies to ensure access to services and information about their performance
  • Shift away from b ureaucratic information systems


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