Two councils collaborating

We recently helped Breckland Council and South Holland District Council work a bit better together by building them a shared, social intranet called The Place.

Today the Chief Executive of both councils, Terry Huggins, had a piece in on the Guardian’s website talking about it all. Here’s a snippet:

When Breckland council and South Holland district council , located in different counties and 50 miles apart, decided to share a seniormanagement team, it was quickly apparent that good communication would be vital.

Video conferencing and webex were inadequate. What was needed was a facility to leave messages, share ideas, communicate news, and collaborate on documents.

With these aims in mind we set up ‘the Place’, our own collaboration and communication platform, developed by online innovation agency, Kind of Digital.

The Place is like our own version of Facebook, but secure, and private to the two councils. Each member has a profile, listing their contact information and also searchable lists of what they do and what skills they have.

Everyone has the ability to post Twitter-style status updates to the whole network, and can join groups of shared interest to collaborate on documents and other activities.

The similarity of the Place to other technology such as Facebook and Twitter is important to its success. Many of our people are now comfortable and familiar with those sites in their personal lives. By making a work system look and operate in a similar way, we rapidly improve levels of engagement with it.

We researched and tested various software products, but decided to work with Kind of Digital as they could develop something customised to our exact needs.

That doesn’t mean we’ve wasted time reinventing the wheel. The Place is built on open source software, reducing development costs and time, and freeing resources to engage staff with using the system.

If you’ve got a need for something like this, you know where I am.