Monthly Archives: April 2009

Social networking in local gov event

I’m going to be speaking at and chairing an event run by Public Sector Forums this Thursday, which is going to be all about how local authorities could be using social web technology to reach out to citizens.

I’m going to be joined by some great speakers, including my good friends Paul Canning, Tim Davies and Simon Wakeman. You can find the full running order here.

Another person who will be at the event will be Liz Azyan, who will be blogging and tweeting her thoughts on each session. To keep all of this activity together, I’ve made an aggregator which will republish:

  • Blog posts
  • Comments
  • Delicious bookmarks tagged with psfbuzz
  • Tweets tagged with #psfbuzz
  • Flickr photos tagged with psfbuzz

Visit the aggregator at www.psfbuzz.com.

It should provide a great way for people not attending to get something out of the day.

Bookmarks for April 19th through April 26th

Stuff I have bookmarked for April 19th through April 26th:

Add LGSearch to your browser

LGSearch

LGSearch is a search engine for the UK public sector that I developed quite a while ago. It’s built on Google Custom Search, and isn’t particularly clever, but is rather useful.

Anyway, inspired by Simon’s recent efforts on behalf of DirectGov, I thought I would make it easy for Firefox and Internet Explorer 7 users to add LGSearch to the list of search engines they can access from within their browsers.

Simply click here to install LGSearch, or visit this page to find out more about it.

The importance of evaluation

Stephen Hale at the FCO has an excellent, interesting and important post about measuring the success of the London G20 Summit site.

With wonderful openness and transparency, Stephen has set out some of the factors by which the site’s success could be measured, along with the results. Its fascinating reading, and provides lots of lessons for anyone approaching an engagement project like this.

Indeed, this ties in with Steph’s recent (and overly-modest) post about the achievements of the engagement bods at DIUS over the last year or so. He wrote:

We still haven’t nailed some of the basics like evaluation, [or] the business case

Figuring out whether or not something has actually worked is terrifically important, and the long term efficacy of online engagement relies on this nut being cracked.

Stephen’s post highlighted some really good practice here: outline what your project aims to do, and come up with some measures around it so you can work out whether it worked or not.

As Steph mentions, having an up-front business case is really important – a written down formulation of what the project actually is and what it ought to achieve.

Now, business cases and evaluation criteria can be developed in isolation and in a project-by-project basis. I wonder, though, how much more value could be created by developing a ‘package’ of evaluation which could be used as a foundation by everyone involved in government online engagement?

Of course, each project has its own unique things that will need to be measured and tested, but surely there are some basic things that every evaluation exercise would need to look at?

How about some common evaluation documents were created, and that every project undertaken ensured that the basic, common stuff was recorded, as well as the unique bits. That way, some kind of comparative analysis would be possible, especially if everyone submitted their results into a common database.

Just how hard would it be to come up with a common framework for online engagement projects? I think it is worth a shot.

Citizen Engagement in Australia

Despina Babbage from the Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development in the government of the state of Victoria in Australia emailed me this morning to let me know about her blog, which is all about citizen engagement.

It’s well worth subscribing to, as Despina does a great job of pulling together activity from all over the world – and it’s nice to hear from others what they think about what we are doing here in the UK, too!

Bookmarks for April 4th through April 13th

Stuff I have bookmarked for April 4th through April 13th:

Mash the State

Mash the State is a campaign to “encourage UK government and public sector organisations to make their data available to the general public.”

The first part of the campaign is dedicated to getting local authorities in the UK using RSS to disseminate information from their websites. Currently only 66 of 434 local councils currently produce RSS.

Helpfully, a PDF one pager has been published to explain why this is a good idea. There is also a blog so you can keep up with developments.

Mash the State is the brainchild of Adrian Short, who has also founded a civic hacking club in Sutton, London; and developed a rather neat local news aggregator.