Skip to main content

What's To Become Of UK Gov Camp?

A couple of months ago I wrote a job description for a new post. Included in it was a line about attending camps and unconferences to share ideas and learn from best practice as part of the role.

To be clear, when I wrote the spec I wasn’t expecting this person to be spending many days a month, swanning round the country attending everything they could. Clearly there’s a balance between talking about stuff and putting it into practice.

Equally, as someone who preaches “Digital by Choice” if there are ways to contribute online, then these should also be considered. There’s usually no better medium than face-to-face, however (I’m sure you already know) digital can often be cheaper and more convenient.

It’s with this in mind I read that James Cattell was organising UK Gov Camp 2014 (UKGC) and he was investigating expanding or evolving it, something that I agree needs to happen given the interest in the 2013 event.

Now here’s the thing, that links back to the job description I wrote. Until camps and unconferences are seen as something that one does as part of their role we’re never going to be able to fulfil the potential of collaboration and share as much as we could.

So my two suggestions are this; firstly run UKGC over two days, a Friday and a Saturday. Things aren't going to change overnight but running it on a Friday says it’s a professional event, not just something local gov nerds (like me) do in their spare time and those who can’t come along in work time can still attend on the Saturday.

Secondly, have a greater emphasis on digital so that the conversation can extend out of the room. I tweeted, not entirely seriously, about hooking someone up with a Peep Show style headcam and Mark Braggins commented that actually Google Glass could do this which is a great idea. It also means that simultaneous events could be run across the country at the same time as well as people joining in wherever they are in the world.

That’s my take on UKGC14. Bigger, more professional and doing more with digital, without losing the things that make it unique.


  1. Hi Phil

    We did the Friday/Saturday thing in 2012. It was rubbish!

    My view on this has always been that UKGC is what it is - if folk think it can be improved or done differently, that's great, but maybe something they can do themselves (often with our money!).

    1. In what ways did you think the Friday/Saturday thing was rubbish?

    2. I think one reason the friday/saturday 2012 didn't quite gel was that the two days were different in flavour.

      I wonder if running a two day event with the same structure is worth a go?

  2. So interesting that you have added this to a job description. It is not common, even less in LG job ads.

    I am very active in my local techie and UX communities, not only attending events but also organising/talking. I find it gives me great insight into best practices. It is also refreshing to know what other people are doing and getting some good ideas to apply at work.

    I think what you suggest at the end of your article about inclusion through using digital means, a good idea.

    1. It's far from being one of the primary activities of the role, but I wanted to make sure that attending relevant camps and unconferences was seen as something legitimate to do.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Digital best practice checklist

This week I finished the draft of a digital best practice check-list. It's not digital strategy, in fact I'm increasingly thinking organisations don't need a digital strategy, they need a delivery strategy.

My draft has check-list of seven questions and recommendations, with one overall recommendation regarding best practice for delivering digital. Ideally it would be incorporated into a wider service and information delivery strategy.

Below I've omitted the bulk of the content, the reasoning behind arriving at the recommendation from the question because it's still in draft, but here are the seven questions and eight recommendations:

1. Is the council properly promoting its digital services and content, to reduce avoidable contact?

Recommendation: Establish a “digital first” ethos to the promotion of services and better targeting what, when and where they're promoted.

2. Are the digital services the council offers, especially where the design and development ha…

Pipeline Alpha

In September 2014, officers from 25 councils met in Guildford to discuss a platform to enable collaboration across Local Government. A "Kickstarter for local government" is the missing part to Makers Project Teams, a concept to enable collaborative working across different organisations put forward by LGMakers the design and development strand of LocalGov Digital.

Based on the user needs captured at the event, LGMakers created collaboration platform Pipeline and by October people from over 50 councils had signed up. Pipeline is an Alpha, a prototype set up to evaluate how a Kickstarter for councils might work. It is a working site though, and is being used as the platform it is eventually intended to be, at present without some of finer features a live offer might have.

So what have I've learnt in the eight months since we launched Pipeline?

There's a strong desire to collaborate 

LocalGov Digital isn't a funded programme. I wrote about how much it LocalGov Digita…

Defining transformation to a wider audience

For the past month I've been putting together a paper on the next steps of digital transformation, for the organisation I work for. I'm proposing we look at two capabilities and two business areas, and if approved I'll be writing more about it.

It's been a great exercise in gathering my thoughts and helping me to define digital transformation to a wider audience and how it fits into the bigger picture of service improvement.

Here's some of the stuff I've learnt or had affirmed:
Transformation, digital or not, starts with understanding the needs of the user through research. This should be obvious, but in local government too often I've seen "build it and they will come" approach applied.

It's unlikely a commercial operation would launch a new product without first researching the market, so why would a digital service be any difference?
A couple of years ago I wrote how the phrase "digital transformation" was hindering digital transf…

Superfast highways

You may have seen this slide I put together to help explain digital transformation

This week we launched a new beta service to report speeding traffic. It looks fairly simple but to give you an idea of what's happening in the background I thought it might be useful to show you the before and after.

So here's the before

and as you can see it's completely a manual process. Stuff might be recorded electronically but it takes someone to do something seven time to make the process work and send it to the parish or the district.

Here's the after

What this doesn't tell you is that it's basing whether the request is for the parish or district on three questions. It's also doing a spatial look up to find the parish and returning the parish clerk details using the Modern.Gov API.

Because these are already part of our platform this is data that we currently maintain, so there's no additional work to keep this up to date and we've reduced the human interactio…

Carl's Conundrum of Internal Influence

I'm writing this partly as a reply to an excellent piece that Carl Haggerty published about the disconnect between internal and external influence and partly due to various conversations over the past month about how to make using tools like collaboration platform Pipeline common practice.

This isn't really about Carl though, or Devon County Council, or any other council specifically, it's more a comment on the influence of digital teams in local governments, or lack of, and how to resolve this.

So here's the question that prompted this piece. How can someone who's been recognised nationally for their work, first by winning the Guardian's Leadership Excellent Award and who has more recently been placed in the top 100 of the Local Government Chronicle's most influential people in local government, "sometimes feel rather isolated and disconnected to the power and influence internally".

First, let's consider whether is this a problem to unique t…