Author: Ben Whitnall (Page 1 of 9)

Democracy doesn’t stop with voting

Here is the world’s shortest hot-take on yesterday’s big news: democracy is more than voting.

Shocked/amazed kid

Mind = blown

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6 (and a bit) takeaways from our Leicester user group, October 2018

Last Wednesday was our latest UK Citizen Space and Dialogue user group, this time in an autumnally-sunny Leicester.

Leicester City Hall

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Introducing our newest Account Manager: Jessie Ashmore

In the least humble-braggy way possible, we do just keep on collecting more customers – so we’re delighted to bring another Account Manager on board to help look after them all!  Our newest recruit is Jessie, joining the team in our HQ in Bristol, UK. We talked to her about democracy, dodgers, dogs – and a contentious use of McFlurries:

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The latest, greatest digital democracy and involvement jobs (UK, March 2018)

Looking for a good, interesting, chance-to-make-a-difference job? The world of digital government keeps on providing great opportunities. Check out this latest bunch, for instance:

Digital Design Team
Hackney Council
‘The new Digital Design team will provide the key skills and expertise required to deliver agile, user centred change across the whole range of the Council’s services.

We are looking for people with a clear vision for delivering excellent digital services, have experience of delivering transformational results and excellent user experiences as part of effective multidisciplinary teams and with the ability to inspire and influence colleagues across services to make effective use of data and service design.’
Closing date: 14 March

Digital Communications Manager
National Audit Office
‘With an ever-changing digital landscape, and an ambitious communications strategy, the NAO is looking for someone to help us modernise our external digital communications approach and activity, increasing our influence with key stakeholders.’
Closing date: 14 March

Director of Technology, Product and Delivery
Government Digital Service
‘The Director of Technology, Product and Delivery will run the Government Digital Service Delivery and Support Group. They will ensure the successful running of its ambitious programme of work with an annual budget of £85 million. Reporting to the Director General, they will have line management responsibility for 4 Deputy Directors and an overall indirect report of 550 staff.’
Closing date: 18 March

Product Lead
House of Commons
‘At the Parliamentary Digital Service, we’re transforming the way Parliament does digital. We’re responsible for the digital output of all parliamentary services. We think it’s important that everyone can access and understand what’s going on in Parliament. Our goal is to bring together the public, Parliament Members, and Parliamentary staff to inform, engage, support, and communicate through one, unified digital core – PDS.’
Closing date: 18 March

Content Designer
House of Commons
‘…focus on the development and production of engaging digital content aimed at increasing learning, awareness and understanding of the work and role of Parliament.’
Closing date: 18 March

Social Media Officer
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
‘…you will also advise on the social media strategy and work with Ministers, staff and stakeholders around the world to ensure they are using social media effectively. As real time editorial leadership becomes increasingly important in creating breaking news, views and information, your work will have high visibility and real impact.’
Closing date: 19 March

Consultation & Engagement Manager
Cornwall Council
‘Looking for a significant opportunity to shape and influence outcomes for the people of Cornwall? We can offer the opportunity to work on high profile strategic initiatives such as the Devolution Deal, the Strategy for Cornwall, the promotion of Cornish as a recognised National Minority Group and the Council’s leadership approach across key policy areas as we commence the process of leaving the European Union.’
Closing date: 19 March

Customer Engagement Officer
West Lancashire Borough Council
‘As a Customer Engagement Officer, you will support the Customer Engagement team to develop, promote and manage the Council’s customer experience process, to ensure the views of our tenants and customers are instrumental in the delivery and improvement of services. You will be the lead officer for the Tenant Scrutiny Group and will also help to deliver a Council wide digital inclusion programme.’
Closing date: 21 March

Head of Digital Services
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
‘Leading a range of specialist professionals, you’ll develop a customer-focused service, which is responsive, flexible to customer needs and delivered to high standards. You will help us drive a digital first approach, internally and externally. So you’ll need to have experience of leading a major IT or Digital Service successfully.’
Closing date: 22 March

Senior Engagement Officer
Greater London Authority
‘OPDC is a Mayoral Development Corporation…Working in the CEO Office within the Communications and Engagement team, you will:
– Deliver an engagement programme and activities to support the statutory public consultation of the OPDC Local Plan.
– Help OPDC understand and engage all audiences in the area including hard-to-reach groups…’
Closing date: 28 March

 

Shifting approaches to consultation at Reading Borough Council

We recently got to chat with Adam Bevington who heads up the web team at Reading Borough Council (UK). Since taking on the role, he’s overseen a dramatic shift in the team’s balance of skills, competencies and workload.

Gone is much of the old emphasis on purely technical/code/ICT work. Instead, Adam has focused on bringing in more and more content expertise: when recruiting for the web team, Reading have been hiring writers, communicators and people who can produce engaging and accessible material (which just so happens to be delivered digitally). 

As a result, the team is now (rightly, one might say) understood within the organisation as more of a communications function than an internal support/infrastructure one. These days, people are more likely to come and ask them for help with wording or tone than they are about a malfunctioning mouse or the intricacies of rebooting an iPad. 

Where has this approach come from?

Perhaps this shift isn’t so surprising given that Adam’s own background is in marketing. But this wasn’t a move made out of personal preference – it’s a strategic decision, designed to reflect the essential integration of digital into everything the Council does. 

And it’s another indication of the continuing, encouraging trend towards what I guess you might call ‘digital by default’. Every week there’ll be another (un)conference extolling the need to realise the full/holistic potential of digital transformation: centred around people, not systems, emphasising ease of interaction over monolithic back-office infrastructure. And that’s good: these need to be such oft-repeated refrains that working this way just becomes business as usual.

What’s the upshot?

For Reading, the change has already made a big difference to the way the organisation works. A prime example is around consultation – a function that now primarily sits with the web team (not the comms team, as one might expect).

Reading use Citizen Space as their online consultation platform and Adam explained that, alongside bringing in more content expertise, adopting this tool has helped change the way they work. 

This is because Citizen Space is, by design, easy for anyone to use, with no specialist technical expertise required. One staff member at Reading now boasts of having the training down to a fine art and is disappointed in herself if she can’t teach someone everything they need to know in order to use the system within 19 minutes. 

This has created a different feel to consulting online. It’s not seen as a complicated thing that requires extensive technical setup. Rather, it’s an exercise in public engagement – one that staff from across the Council can initiate themselves. And when they go to the web team for help, it’s not because they need ‘someone who’s good with computers’ to do their job for them. Instead, people are asking about how best to present materials, how to maximise reach and how to engage participants as effectively as possible. Questions of good communication, not technological operation.

We’re big fans of Reading’s approach and, in our training, events and advice to customers, you’ll frequently hear us arguing for exactly this stance. It’s so easy to get distracted by the fact that ‘digital’ involves technology and mistakenly focus on the technical aspects themselves – as if just connecting up enough cables, screens and devices would, in and of itself, suddenly change the way people interact with government. 

Instead, as it has been for Reading, new technology should be a prompt and an opportunity to find new, better ways of working. That’s not just an optimistic platitude – we consistently find with Citizen Space customers, for example, that when they adopt the platform, it helps them bring in a new approach to consultation and public engagement, not just an increase in the efficiency of their old methods. 

If you’re interested in finding out more, get in touch to see Citizen Space in action.

More digital democracy and involvement jobs (UK, Feb 2018)

The cool jobs and exciting opportunities in the world of digital government keep coming thick and fast. Check out this veritable smorgasbord of roles being advertised at the moment, where you can get stuck into improving the connection between decision-makers and citizens:

Engagement, Consultation and Communication Officer
City of London Corporation
‘Hampstead Heath is a premier open space in North London; it receives more than seven million visitors a year and is nationally and internationally renowned.

The City of London Corporation Open Spaces Department seeks to recruit an enthusiastic and innovative Engagement, Consultation and Communication Officer who will develop and support a range of activities to ensure effective gathering and sharing of information takes place.’
Closing date: 23 Feb

External Relations Manager
Economic and Social Research Council
‘Our External Relations function engages parliamentarians, policymakers and other stakeholders to enable them to join and inform debates about current issues, raising awareness of ESRC and its research and providing evidence to inform decision-making.’
Closing date: 25 Feb

Head of Policy & Public Affairs
Basildon Council
‘By consulting with residents, Members and partners, you’ll set direction and develop strategies that will deliver our Corporate Plan. With the chance to influence resident satisfaction, as well as decision makers, you’ll be instrumental in achieving the future we want.’
Closing date: 25 Feb

Programme Consultation Manager
London Borough of Hillingdon
‘The Capital Programme and Planned Works Team lead​s​ ​on ​and manages all new build construction projects and refurbishment projects undertaken by the Council. This includes school expansions; new build supported living and general needs social housing;​ construction works on corporate building (libraries, sport and leisure centres, children centres etc). The Programme Consultation Officer will be responsible for working with colleagues to agree and implement consultation plans for individual projects.’
Closing date: 25 Feb

Delivery Manager
Legal Aid Agency
‘Are you passionate about high quality delivery aligned to users’ needs? Do you want to work at the forefront of digital transformation in government?

We are looking for experienced delivery managers based at our London HQ to lead the agile delivery of new and improved digital services right across the MoJ, our agencies and public bodies.’
Closing date: 26 Feb

Content Editor/Content Designer
Department for Education
‘Ideally you will have experience in writing content online (including in HTML), an understanding of meeting user needs, and experience of gathering and interpreting data and evidence to help make informed decisions.’
Closing date: 26 Feb

Senior Content Editor/Content Designer
Department for Education
‘In the DfE digital communications team we aim to make all of this work simpler, clearer and easier to find online, by managing and creating engaging written web content on GOV.UK and integrating this with wider digital communications…Alongside content experience, you will be able to understand and identify the needs of users, as well as map their journeys through content.’
Closing date: 26 Feb

Head of Data
Care Quality Commission
‘The Head of Data is a newly created and exciting role, forming part of our Digital transformation programme…Working in partnership with others you will define a strategy for the art of the possible, exploring best practice methods, tools and processes that will enable CQC to deliver its intelligence-driven ambitions, and drive this through to delivery.’
Closing date: 28 Feb

Head of Stakeholder Engagement and Research
Disclosure & Barring Service
‘…design and implement a best in class Stakeholder Engagement and Research function that informs DBS strategy and policy; enhances understanding of DBS function among stakeholders and informs the practice and guidance of partner organisations.’
Closing date: 4 March

Digital & Data Officer
Southwark Council
‘Southwark is committed to conducting and planning effective and efficient elections whilst improving service and quality standards and value for money.

An exciting opportunity has arisen in the Electoral Services Division to join a team currently working on the 2018 Borough council elections and planning for the annual canvass later this year.’
Closing date: 4 March

Director of Digital Services
Companies House
‘The Director of Digital Services will deliver the next generation of high performing digital services for our customers and staff, working with GDS, BEIS and wider government…Be customer focused to ensure that the Register unlocks the opportunities that digital data brings.’
Closing date: 16 March

Interesting digital democracy/government jobs, Feb 2018 (UK)

Digital democracy is a super-interesting field and one that’s growing all the time – check out this host of exciting job opportunities, all about better involving in the public in policy/decision-making, around the UK:

Transformation Officer, Blaby District Council
‘…help us re-design services for digital delivery. You will be involved in individual projects from concept to execution, helping services to create efficiencies, encouraging innovation and inspiring services to switch customers to digital.’
Closing date: 7 Feb (yes, literally today, sorry)

Head of Digital, Buckinghamshire County Council
‘We’re looking for someone with innovative ideas and embedded knowledge of the capabilities of digital technology, not just to digitise records but to help forge a vision of convenience for the customer’
Closing date: 8 Feb (so be quick!)

Service Change and Digital Transformation Project Officer, London Borough of Lewisham
‘…Lewisham Council is undergoing a significant digital transformation and these roles will work within multi-disciplinary project teams to deliver organisational and cultural change, underpinned by new digital capabilities.’
Closing date: 11 Feb

Head of Role Content Design, Department for Work and Pensions
‘…few other organisations globally provide the same opportunity to apply next-generation digital technology on a massive scale to issues which touch the lives of so many.’
Closing date: 11 Feb

Assistant Director, Policy Lab, London Borough of Waltham Forest
‘…create, shape and lead a trailblazing service that enables fast-paced, people-centred design approaches to policy and strategy development. We will design for delivery with approaches that are insight led, co-created and digitally based, pushing collaborative working and igniting creativity.’
Closing date: 12 Feb

Digital Delivery Manager, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
‘You will play an integral role in the digital transformation of government services in BEIS. You will have a vision for BEIS services and communicate this to digital teams and business alike. Be a digital ambassador for BEIS and help drive change in the department and raise awareness of both technical and non-technical staff of the new digital landscape.’
Closing date: 13 Feb

Social Media Officer, House of Commons
‘…play a leading role in articulating both internal and external user needs to increase public understanding and participation in committee work.’
Closing date: 18 Feb

User Engagement Lead, House of Commons
‘…work with Members in the House of Commons and House of Lords, and their staff, and administration staff from the both Houses to prepare them for the changes that will come with the implementation of new technology, and to support them through these changes.’
Closing date: 4 Mar

3 useful examples of online consultations open right now

People working in government often ask us for examples of how others are running their public consultations/involvement activity online. (For all the ‘best practice’ guidance and training courses in the world, sometimes there’s no substitute for just seeing what other people actually do).

So, in case you’re in that boat, here’s a few interesting real-world examples, from our customers, that are live on the internet right now. (You can also take your pick from 12,500+ examples any time via our Aggregator.)

Police Scotland – Annual Police Plan Survey

Screenshot of Police Scotland's Annual Police Plan survey on Citizen Space

A linear survey on this major strategic plan for a national organisation – ‘a significant opportunity to improve how we serve the public and our communities’.

London Borough of Camden – Be a part of Camden’s future

Screenshot of Camden's Dialogue

The council ‘are committed to making conversations about Camden’s future wider than ever to make sure residents stay involved in the decisions that affect them.’ They’re using Dialogue to invite people’s ideas and comments on what Camden should be like in 2025.

London Borough of Hackney – Hackney Hate Crime Strategy

Screen shot of Hackney's Crime Strategy survey on Citizen Space

Another linear survey on an important issue – the council’s ‘strategy for working with our partners and communities to make sure that Hackney is no place for hate.’ The council want to hear from residents about how their plans could make a difference in their community.

 

Ration Club – Newspeak House, London, Wed 7 Feb

We’re excited to be returning to Newspeak House’s Ration Club to do a bit more hosting/chef-ing. This time, we’re there on Wed 7 Feb.

Delib founders Andy and Chris cook spaghetti bolognese at Ration Club

Andy and Chris – two of Delib’s founders – hard at work rustling up a spag bol

For those who have never been, Ration Club is a regular Wednesday night fixture at Newspeak House where people from the political/democracy and civic tech community get together to eat and share ideas.

The format is based around a communal supper, where a Newspeak House member cooks a giant spread, with donations encouraged from the attendees.

Oct 2017 Ration Club menu – spaghetti bolognese or spaghetti and aubergine

The mix of people and conversation is always varied – and the event’s open to all, so come along if you’re free! (If you do plan to turn up, please just drop us an email, if only so we can make sure we cook enough food!)

Introducing our new communications person: Keri O’Donoghue

Delib keeps on growing – both in number of customers and number of staff. The newest member of the team is Keri, joining our UK office in a communications role. As is now standard procedure, she’s completed our comprehensive set of taxing questions about bands, bread and, of course, biscuits.

What’s your name and where are you from?      

My name is Keri O’Donoghue and I have the dubious pleasure of being from Swindon (yes, the location of Wernham Hogg’s second office). I lived in Brighton for uni before moving to Bristol about three years ago and have loved it here ever since!

Favourite band and/or artist?

Always a tricky question – at the moment I’m really enjoying Jessie Ware and have tickets to see her in Bristol next March! I also absolutely love Bon Iver and would like it if Justin Vernon could sing me to sleep every night. Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams is one of my favourite albums. As for the classics, my dad has instilled a great love for The Jam in me and we went to see Paul Weller together a few years ago; Down in the Tube Station at Midnight is one of my all time favourite songs. My mum, on a slightly different note, has given me a deep appreciation for Whitney Houston; I cried the day she died and many-a-night at my parents’ house ends with my mum, my sister and I belting out Saving All My Love in the kitchen with utensils for microphones (and wine).

Creature of habit or maverick thinker?

In my working life I’m definitely a creature of habit; I love a list, I love routine and I love to be organised (and to organise others). In my personal life I’d say I’m a bit more of a maverick thinker; I like to be spontaneous and hate to commit to anything too far in advance.

You get mysteriously transported to a desert island, with only time to grab a couple of precious things to take with you. What makes the ‘keep’ list?

My dad is a brilliant combination of Bruce Willis in Die Hard and Liam Neeson in Taken, with a bit of Ray Mears thrown in, so if people are allowed on the keep list, then him. If not, then definitely some way of playing music, because I’m rarely not listening to anything. Also, my trademark favourite red lipstick, because if I’m going to be starting a new life on this desert island, I might as well look good while I’m at it.

Biscuits – dunk or leave unsullied?

Dunk! Or, if we’re talking about my favourite biscuit, a caramel waffle, then put on top of the coffee cup so the heat melts the caramel a bit and makes it all lovely and soft!

Before joining Delib, how did you put bread on the table?

I used to work for an academic publisher in the sales and marketing team, where I sometimes got to travel to the US and Europe for various events and conferences. My most recent role was at a not for profit which helps the UK education sector gain access to innovative technologies to help with research and teaching. When I was a student I worked at Starbucks, where I developed my love of caramel waffles.

Why did you want to join Delib?

I studied International Development at uni, and when met with blank faces on telling people that, always described it as a mixture of Politics and Geography, so have always had a keen interest in politics and the wider world. To work for a company that aligns well with that and is doing such positive stuff for democracy is a really exciting opportunity for me. Starting in a new role, I have a lot to learn and take on and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it!

Any shout outs, comments or other musings?

It’s only been a couple of weeks but I’m already really happy at Delib, so a big shout out to all of the team for making me feel so welcome!

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