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Showing posts from February, 2015

Local government should... (Part Two)

In Part One I offered a rough guide to local government. A quick explanation of how complex this bit of the public sector is compared central government.

In this part I'll discuss how we can move things forward, not by amending existing practices but by taking a new approach. I'm going to use the contentious issue of "one website to rule them all", that is, a single website to publish information from all 6,500ish local government departments that some have proposed.

Local government websites are a good example of change by consensus. Even as little as ten years ago, not every UK council had a website. There's no general legislation to ensure that councils have websites (though there is some around specific content provision), it's just by consensus of user need that they've been created.

They're also a good example of the speed of change. Local politicians have been told by professionals of the need for bigger, better websites for years. This is star…

Local government should... (Part One)

I've seen a lot written recently about what local government should do in terms of digital services, so I thought I'd write a quick guide to this bit of the public sector, for those who might not be so familiar with it.

Local government isn't one government like central government, but a collection of Counties, Districts, Boroughs, Unitary, Town, Parish and a few other Councils. There's around 9,000 of these. Many members of these councils have affiliation to a political party, but some don't. When people say "local government" however, they're usually referring to the 433 Tier One and Tier Two councils though, so for the rest of this article that's what I'll mean, when I refer to local government or councils.

Each council is split into departments or service units. Depending on the size of the organisation there could be quite a few of these, but I'm going to guestimate on average there's 15. They're sometimes referred to authorit…

Unmentoring

This week LocalGov Digital launched unmentoring. Based on Nesta's Randomised Coffee Trials, you sign up to committing to having a conversation remotely with a random person over a cup of your favourite refreshment (non alcoholic of course), for around 30 minutes to 1 hour once a month.

With a background as a developer I usually deal in the tangible, the doing and sharing bit of  LocalGov Digital's "Think. Do. Share". So why have I signed up for unmentoring?


Coding out loud

The first port call when you get stuck coding are often sites like stackoverflow, an open compendium of public questions and answers about all sorts of coding problems. If you can't get an answer from here then talking through your problem with someone else is usually next.

Sometimes, working through the code, or rather the intention of the code helps you spot the problems with it. The solution might be something as simple as removing a stray speech mark, right though to having to re-write you…

We're not in 2012 any more

This is a post about two events, both last week. The first the LocalGov Digital Steering Group meet on 6th February, and the second Local Democracy for Everyone: We're Not in Westminster Any More on the 7th, both in Huddersfield

Perhaps they warrant two individual write ups, but as the two are inextricably linked, both because LocalGov Digital was a sponsor of the latter and with the LocalGov Digital Steering Group's Carl Whistlecraft and Dave McKenna being involved in its organisation, I've decided to write about the two together.

A four an a half hour journey gave me a chance to play with Google+ Locations, and watching Carl Haggerty and Lucy Knight race me across the country, in a sort of virtual It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World gave me a few ideas, but that's for another post.

The trip from Manchester to Huddersfield, over the beautiful snow peaked Pennines also remind me that life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could mi…