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Showing posts from June, 2014

A single website for local government

This week I've seen discussion about a "single website for local government", so I think it's important to clarify what's being talked about when we're talking about local authority websites.

Council websites deliver information to residents; that's traditionally been their core task and if they're following the LocalGov Digital Content Standards, where possible they've linked to a definitive source rather than write a page themselves, unless they're the definitive source of the information themselves.

This means that the 500 to 1000 pages on the site all serve a purpose. This content could be put into a central local government site (if that's not an oxymoron) but it still takes someone to author and edit these pages that are specific to each council, so putting them all on one site isn't really going to be any more efficient.

So that's information, but councils offer a lot more online and many will have a collection of form…

What became of LocalGovCamp 2014?

LocalGovCamp 2014 was last weekend and judging by the response on Twitter and blogs, it looks like people thought it was a success.

From a personal perspective there were so many people I'd talked to online that I met in person for the first time. There were people I really wanted to chat with but missed or just nodded to as I dashed to a session.  However long the day is, it's never long enough.

I was also proud to organise the Makers Hack Day which around 50 people attended on a work day, and importantly I learned a lot for the next time. I'll post more about this later.

I've already seen blog posts about a coming of age for LocalGov Digital, how LocalGovCamp is vital for disrupting and pushing the sector forward, how LocalGov Digital should have more balls (in fact perhaps Glen Ocsko should have the title "LocalGov Digital Voice of the Balls"), all of which I agree with, so in Makers' style, I wanted to focus on doing stuff.

I've put together a li…

Could the ECB inspire a Local GDS?

So back once again is the debate about a Local GDS.

For me, here's the dilemma. To understand local governments and the ever changing demands and constraints which are even more evident in the digital world you need to be part of one as a member, or work for one as an officer. I wrote about this back in 2012 just after LocalGov Digital was formed.

In my view it's essential to be directly accountable to the representatives of local people or local people themselves, if you're delivering public services for them.

The problem with this is, quite rightly, one's time is taken up with working for one's council, so unless you find other councils interested in doing what you're doing which in itself takes time, any work beyond the day job for the wider sector is largely done in one's own time.

So, take the person out of local government and they lose the essential accountability to local people, keep them in and they'll have little time to do anything for the w…

A local public services search

It's funny how conversations on Twitter start off about one thing and end up about another.

This morning I started tweeting about how we're aggregating Google Calendars (gCal) into an events search, found out Kevin Jump had written some code for pulling events from gCal too, talked about testing the Solr search engine against Google with Jason Williams, Sarah Jennings and Richard Kingston, and ended up discussing a local public services search engine with James Cattell and briefly, Saul Cozens and Tom Loosemore too.

Both the first two subjects deserve their own post, but this one's about the last, a local service search engine.

On 20 June LocalGov Digital Makers are running a Hack Day in partnership with Nesta and for one of the challenges we're looking at is creating a central resource for local governments, perhaps based on the some of the work the Government Digital Service have done.

The discussion this morning got me thinking, what if we could pull together search…