Five interesting pieces of digital democracy news for people working in Local Government

1) Guidance – best value consultation + communities
Just released: guidance from Communities and Local Government on Best Value Duty.

This document provides guidance on how authorities can work with voluntary and community groups and small businesses when facing funding decisions.

We found it interesting because we’ve been speaking to councils who are currently looking to work more closely with voluntary and community groups, including co-funding procurement of services (including consultation software).

2) Interesting tech story – internet of things
How the ‘internet of things’ could radically change local government: Guardian article.

The article is a simple introduction to a very ‘tech’ concept, where physical objects are connected to the internet and can send and receive data. There are multiple benefits to this – examples given include making transport run more smoothly, and the use of smart meters to cut electricity waste. BUT, I would really like to see this kind of thinking applied to community engagement and consultation. This could quite simply enable easier discovery of consultations and enable people to participate more easily.

For example, participating in a consultation on a public space such as a playground, or a planning issue like the opening hours of a licensed premises. This would involve participating via smartphones and could be done with a variety of methods, including QR codes on printed vinyl stickers, or via augmented reality overlays, or simple alerts based on GIS and mapping data. More on this in a blog post from us soon 🙂

3) Another interesting tech story – open source in local government
Bristol’s new website is open source. We like open source. Here’s some more about the new Bristol site.

4) Some thoughts on: Twitter; flexible working with holiday buybacks
Twitter and local gov is it a mismatch? – an in-depth guide from Peter Barton (formerly at Lincolnshire County Council) on how councils can use Twitter effectively. If you’re already using Twitter (many councils are now using it effectively), this is interesting. If you’re not using Twitter, this is essential reading – whether you’re creating a case to management for using Twitter, wanting to do Twitter but not sure where to start.

With local authorities under pressure to cut costs without cutting service delivery, we thought this was an interesting scheme from Nottingham City Council: swapping pay for holidays. Savings of £153,000 are attributed to the scheme. Is this a controversial scheme, or common sense?

5) A fun thing.
We discovered a Flickr group for local gov “Local Government Does Some Brilliant Things” – via Adriel Hampton.

Some useful things from Delib
Using remote working in the public sector to save costs: how Citizen Space consultation software can help with this (also includes 3 useful links about remote working).

Budget consultation and engagement: Walsall extend community involvement in budget setting with Budget Simulator.

Consultation tools that can be shared across an authority: London Borough of Sutton use Citizen Space + Dialogue App for consultation (PDF case study).

And finally, here’s a quick list of some UK local government Citizen Space users: Barnet, Bolsover, Bristol, Cumbria Partnership, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, North East Derbyshire, Rotherham, Rochdale, Sutton…

Want to know more about Citizen Space or any of our other apps for consultation and engagement? Give us a call on 0845 638 1848 or contact Beccy or Gill for a demonstration

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