As a follow up to our first Digital Hero post, I thought I’d mix it up somewhat and interview someone who used to work in Local Gov and now works in the private sector. That person is Ben Unsworth, formerly of Sutton and Surrey County and now one of Socrata’s newest, and let’s hope finest, employees. Without giving too much away, Ben wanted me to let you know that aside from the paradox of craft ale drinking and competing in triathlons, he also has the same breed of dog as President Obama. Quite what the reference to his dog means, I’ll leave for you to decide, and instead crack on with the nerve trembling grilling that is Digital Heroes. Let’s take a closer look.
1. What’s your name and where are you from?
Ben Unsworth, South West London.
2. What do you do for a living?
Data Solutions Architect for Socrata (technical sales and chief nerd for the UK team).
3. Favourite band/ and or artist?
The Smashing Pumpkins, right up until they released Machina in 2000 – it was downhill from there.
4. Android or iPhone?
5. PC or Mac?
6. Sports – team player or solo athlete?
Was never any good at team sports, solo athlete all the way.
7. Creature of habit or maverick thinker?
Maverick thinker is a bit bold… more like grit in the oyster 😉
8. Best digital project you’ve worked on in government or with government?
While I was at Sutton Council I had a great time working with Adrian Short on the NESTA-funded Sutton Bookshare project. It never quite took off, but it was a great exercise in using open data to develop a new service.
9. Where do you hope government will be in ten years in terms of public consultation/ digital democracy?
Hopefully government will have got into the habit of delivering the very best digital experience for citizens. Too much of what’s offered online by government today does not live up to people’s expectations or meet user needs. Government should be leading the way, delivering great services on all devices. If we get this right we can transform the relationship between government and citizens, helping people get more engaged and participate more often in the local democratic process.
10. Best government site other than GOV.UK you’ve seen and why?
My favourite government site changes all the time. My favourite right now is an inter-governmental organisation’s site, the United Nations Human Development Reports. (Full disclaimer, this was put together by my very talented colleagues at Socrata – so I am biased, but I think it’s a great way to tell stories with open data.)
And so we conclude our chat with Ben; we laughed, we cried, we may have even learned something. If you’d like to carry on the conversation with Ben you can find him on Twitter. I’m sure he’d be happy to talk about about open data, Socrata and his ‘sort of famous but not really’ dog.
Until next time.