Tag Archives: Debate

BIS give us a lesson in effective promotion with their sharing economy consultation

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has recently finished conducting a call for evidence on an Independent review of the sharing economy. Feedback on the review is being collected in three ways:

BIS Independent Sharing Economy

What is the sharing economy and why is it important to conduct a call for evidence?

“The sharing economy is coming and it’s being driven by consumers” Debbie Wosskow

The sharing economy is a new set of business models, driven by technologies that are making it easier for people to share their property, time and skills. Examples include property sharing via services such as Airbnb and shared transport – for example Barclays Cycle Hire scheme. The call for evidence is being led via an independent review by Debbie Wosskow (CEO of Love home swap). Ms Wosskow’s tactics will be to ask for evidence both in the conventional government ways and digitally, aiming to produce an interactive report that will draw from the experience of workers and consumers too.

Effective survey design

In order to ensure the call for evidence was tailored to different respondents’ needs, the Citizen Space survey included the use of skip-logic to ‘route’ respondents to a set of questions relevant to them. Especially commendable was the use of survey routing by audience-type, with more open free-text questions for respondents from an organisation to enable extended commenting on the subject. The survey also included the use of fact banks, which enable respondents to view more information on the topic if needed.

Generate Twitter noise

The consultation picked up a large amount of traction on Twitter. The call for evidence opened on 29th September 2014 and on the same day attracted 806 tweets being posted within just 24 hours. Using the relevant hashtag #sharingeconomy in most tweets, it was easy to follow the conversation on Twitter.

BIS also tweeted the call for evidence at potential respondents who may be interested in the subject, which helped ensure a two-way conversation. A summary of some of the best Tweets which had been posted were also made available by BIS via a Storify post.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 16.13.12An extended period for comment with a sense of urgency created around the closing date

A sense of urgency was also created around the closing date of the call for evidence, with the consultation date being extended to enable more participants to take part.Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 16.08.53

Direct link and page through from GOV.UK

In order to ensure respondents could also find the call for evidence from GOV.UK a direct link through to Citizen Space was added under the call to action ‘Give your views on the sharing economy’.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 12.18.08A dedicated microsite and newsletter created as a hub for the review

The sharing economy review itself has its own dedicated micro-site, recently commended by Helpful Technology. The site links through to relevant posts about the review – namely a number of stories, sites and blogs . The site also provides an opportunity to sign-up to a dedicated newsletter for the review which links through to the call for evidence.

Inclusion of existing research and relevant infographics

BIS also included reference to previous research conducted by PwC on the sharing economy, which helped contextualise the consultation.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 16.12.09BIS aims to produce a report by the end of the year following the call for evidence and we’re looking forward to seeing the results.

Introducing our first Citizen Space user group meetings hosted by the Department of Health and Birmingham City Council

After a few months in the making, we finally have two user group meetings planned this year – let’s all meet up and get to know one another!

BIS Digtial Engagement
Image courtesy of @bisgovuk Department of Business Innovation and Skills

Who are the user groups for?

Digital leads, analysts, policy leads, communication managers – anyone using Citizen Space or interested in digital engagement. We’re hoping the groups will be a mix of people with different skills.

What should I expect?

Sessions on all things digital engagement. Including the following:

  • Show and tell of recent or upcoming engagement exercise. Review of the process and challenges of how you do consultation
  • Example from an analysis team and/or input from Delib on tools for analysis in Citizen Space
  • Citizen Space roadmap – we’ll talk through our plans for development of Citizen Space and garner your input
  • Top tips and best practice examples

Tell me when it is and I’m there with bells on!

The first is a central government user group meeting on the afternoon of Friday 29th August, hosted by Department of Health in Whitehall. Focusing on specific examples from central government.

The next is a full-day user group meeting hosted by Birmingham City Council in late September/October. This will include some useful workshops as well as discussions around benchmarking and collaborative working, amongst many other things.

Interested in attending? Contact one of our Account Managers – Louise (louise@delib.net) or Rowena (rowena@delib.net) or give us a call on 0845 638 1848.

To centralise or de-centralise? How Citizen Space supports both methods of working

Examining how software can compliment, aid and add value to existing processes is a keen interest of mine. Our customers often ask how Citizen Space can be used to aid their workflow, or can be set-up in such a way to help manage approval processes. It may sound a little geeky, but I love hearing about when Citizen Space has made an organisations’ life a little easier.

We are regularly asked how other organisations choose to adopt Citizen Space internally and, broadly speaking, there are two methods of adoption – the centralised model or a de-centralised way of working.

How Citizen Space can be used to compliment a de-centralised method of working

The whole idea of this method is that policy teams are closer to the issues being consulted on. They can analyse and use information garnered through consultation to help inform the policies they are currently working on. In short, respondents’ answers will come through to those who really know the issues at hand.

Using Citizen Space in a de-centralised manner in practice, essentially involves rolling out the system across the whole organisation. This means utilising the systems’ robust user structure to set-up site admins (normally one or two) who take control of the overall set-up and ‘lead’ on the app. Department admins can then ‘advocate’ and check consultation quality standards within their team, whilst working with individual admins to run consultations. The following features can be used to help manage such a method of working in practice:

Both London Borough of Sutton and London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham effectively utilise this method of working. LBHF also effectively run internal training on a regular basis.

How Citizen Space can be used to compliment a centralised method of working

  • Set up one or two site admins who have control over all consultations. This approach helps ensure there is an organisational overview of all consultation activity.
  • All consultations are built by one or two individuals within a small team who know the system the best, the aim here is to maintain a consistent quality approach.
  • Calendars can be closely managed, reducing the risk of survey fatigue to the public. Consultations can be created and templated by this central team before being copied across between departments using our newly released survey cloning feature.
  • Reporting on outcomes can be fully standardised and sent for action within the appropriate team.

Transport for London build their Citizen Space consultations within a core team and these are signed off by two key users who have established a consultation centre of excellence. Rochdale Borough Council also centrally manage their Citizen Space instance within their research team, meaning their analysis experts are part of the survey build, as well as assessing the consultation outcomes.

Choosing which method works for you, or indeed benefiting from both models of working, will of course depend on how your organisation is structured and what suits the skills within it. There certainly isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach here and many of our customers benefit from a mixture of both methods, adapting these as their use of Citizen Space evolves. Our aim is for all of our customers to become ‘consultation centres of excellence’, so if you would like to discuss these methods of working or other ways we can help you, please contact your account manager as we’d love to chat.

Friday Consultation Round-up

Our customers have once again been working hard this week to consult online using our awesome suite of apps. Here’s 5 nice examples of consultations our customers have been running which have caught our eye this week;

1) TfL’s use of visionary images for their consultation on the redevelopment of 10 King William Street.

Transport for London have a fantastic grasp and eye for adding images to consultations to make them more visually engaging. Their consultation on the redevelopment of 10 King William Street is no exception, with the inclusion of images to show the proposed new design. Online engagement is supplemented by the opportunity to attend ‘drop-in’ sessions to discuss the proposals.

2) LBHF’s consultation on the proposal to introduce a new farmers market to a local park.

London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham are consulting on the possible introduction of a Farmers Market in Ravenscourt Park. The consultation includes an image of a farmers market and fact banks explaining further information on farmers markets to inform respondents.

3) Forestry Commission’s consultation on learning activity feedback

The Forestry Commission are consulting on feedback following their learning and activity events to inform their future improvement. The Forestry Commission have also just begun consulting on Visitor Facilities at Birchden Woods using their Dialogue App.

4) Dublin’s park questionnaire

Our Citizen Space customers regularly consult on local parks and recreational facilities, often receiving sound feedback and local interest. Dublin’s park consultation is no exception asking for feedback from local resident on what is important to them.

5) Clackmannanshire Council’s use of embedded media to seek representations on its Proposed Local Development Plan (LDP).

Using rich media and embedded consultation documents, Clackmannanshire Council have set out the Council’s proposed vision for future development in Clackmannanshire. The use of embedded documents within the consultation ensures that respondents have the appropriate context right next to the question, helping them produce an informed response.



A mini unconference – some thoughts from the first BlueLightCamp

Having attended my first ‘unconference‘ back in January, in the form of UK GovCamp, the prospect of attending a smaller, emergency services focused event seemed exciting and timely. The day proved interesting and varied, with 5 different sessions and a lengthy lunch to discuss ideas further.

There has certainly been some interesting reflections following the event. Here are 4 take home pointers from us:

1) There needs to be an appropriate time to use social media. Conditions need to be created in order to allow the conversation to flow rather than simply the content. As one camper rightly pointed out:

“There is a balance between people having a voice and letting them use that voice”

2) Using social networking makes the face to face time more valuable. A case can be created for using social media both at the beginning of a consultation and at the end – to reach out and to pull feedback. However, let’s not forget the value of face to face time within this process.

3) There is more transparency online than often given credit for. Understanding who the community leaders are online and what they are talking about could be an invaluable channel of communication.

4) Adopting appropriate platforms for communication. Joining up various channels of communication and identifying crossovers, helps ensure consultations are relevant, focused and above all engaging for the end user.

Also Social Simulator is awesome. A personal highlight of mine was getting a mini taster of The Social Simulator, an innovative tool used to simulate how social media can help in a crisis. Taking on the role of a Local Authority in a crisis, I certainly learnt a few lessons about taking the lead, communicating, fact finding and above all ensuring a clear and informed response to the general public.

Social Simulator session at Bluelightcamp photo courtesy of event updates

Thanks to the event organisers for making this possible and I look forward to the next unconference soon 🙂

G-Cloud take home thoughts from the second Tea Camp

This weekend will see the announcement of the names of more than 300 suppliers who have been successfully added to the G-Cloud Framework. In light of this exciting news, the second Tea Camp held yesterday at the National Audit Office focused on progress within the framework, next steps and challenges.

“There is nothing more constant than change”

How will G-Cloud be different from previous ICT overhauls? The answer is, the whole G-Cloud Framework process will be iterative. Instead of procuring something and then closing the heavy procurement doors, the process is looking to be more open to change.

Flexible maybe but alongside the excitement there will also be challenges and benefits:

3 things that excite us about G-Cloud:

1) G-Cloud themselves are enthused. It really feels like the team involved have a genuine interest in the range of services which are being offered as part of the Cloud.

2) Buyers are going to have a choice. Local service providers can hopefully move away from the idea and culture which has developed around it actually costing more to stop using a service than to carry on using a service which is inefficient.

3) The assurance process will hopefully be made more simpler. Accreditation will take into account the need for Pan-Government Accreditation. There is a real drive to accredit once and accredit well.

Challenges presented by the Cloud and the G-Cloud framework:

One of the most interesting affects of the G-Cloud will be whether or not the culture change which is clearly happening within central government filters down and through to local government. One of the speakers at Tea Camp yesterday was a G-Cloud foundation partner from Warwickshire County Council who discussed some interesting challenges they have encountered :

1) Service mapping and forward planning. Some Authorities are looking ahead at costs for 2-3 years and then making a conscious decision based on a range of factors including cost.

2) How to integrate new and existing systems. Challenges presented here include data migration and centralisation.

3) Co-existence and running multiple systems at once within this transition phase. Running calenders at the same time for example, often presents a particular challenge.

3 benefits of G-Cloud and adopting Cloud based services for the buyers:

1) People adapt to the interface very quickly which reduces the overhead and training on support. For those who don’t adapt so seamlessly, identifying skills gaps can help to ease this. Identifying change advocates who can push this forward is also key.

2) Cloud based working also introduces more flexible methods of working. Corporate mail can be increasingly sent from tablets and smart phones for example. A recent report found that Public sector departments are increasingly happy for their employees to access their work emails from their own devices.

3) There is a real potential for a business shift and velocity change within departments. The role of ICT teams will still be valid but their influence and direction will need to change.

G-Cloud is truly exciting and although some challenges will clearly be presented, the potential benefits and change which will hopefully come with a culture change away from complicated and costly ICT systems is something which is long overdue.

Gov Camp 2012 – 15 take home pointers

GovCamp 2012 was awesome. With two days of packed and uber interesting un-conference style talks, coupled with an opportunity to talk to and debate with a whole host of varied people, the event was truly worth working on a Saturday for ;).

In a true round-up style I thought I would go for a nice take-home-pointers blog post.

5 things we learnt from meeting people:

  1. Best practice needs to be shared more. We need to build a greater network of conversation and trust.
  2. Consultation needs to be fluid. Statutory rules on consultation may be too rigid?
  3. Digital maturity is varied within organisations. Recognising this both internally and externally is key.
  4. We need to find and target key nodes within a network. Once we have recognised this we can start to connect people. Connecting people leads to better governance.
  5. Is digital by default over-rated? One camper mentioned heralding The WI as a key player. Grounding consultation in a digital age is still important.

5 things we learnt from the awesome un-conference sessions:

  1. ‘Radical’ websites should become the norm and designed from the bottom up. We need to start looking at websites in terms of what people actually want. We like Utah and Calgary who both use clean and user friendly search portals as their home page sites.
  2. Agile working methods are awesome. We should move away from ‘black-boxing development’. Agile methods should be heralded as the norm.
  3. Don’t forget the end user. We need to advocate a culture of starting with the end user when designing websites and consultation questions.
  4. Manage expectations within consultations. People need to have context and a reasonable set of boundaries.
  5. Sites need to be streamlined and simplified. As one camper mentioned “portals can end up being a hungry mouth which needs feeding information”.

5 things we would like to see next time:

  1. More real life examples on how to apply things in practice. Examples help people go away from Govcamp and start putting their thoughts into practice.
  2. Further examination of bottom up thinking – where does the user journey start and how can we get back to this point?
  3. More focus on futurology – what will our digital environment look like in 5-10 years? What counts as digital literacy and how can we aid this?
  4. How can we connect the feedback loops? How does the nature of decisions change as a result of consultation.
  5. How can we promote buy-in and the awesomeness of digital. Practical tips for spreading the word need to be advocated.

The two day event certainly prompted some take home thoughts – if I am honest this blog post started off as a small essay; I have trimmed it for snappy readers. Thanks to Dave Briggs and Steph Gray for making such event possible and happen 🙂

Making open data more useful, usable and engaging

I recently had the pleasure of speaking on the Bristol Media Sandbox panel on the Open Data section of the Future Everything Conference. Aside from being overwhelmingly impressed with the Future Everything Conference (amazing talks, art and music), I came away with a better appreciation of where we’re headed with open data.

The questions from delegates focused around the obvious issues of getting data out there, although the discussion developed into making open data useful, accessible and engaging for the public. In essence, this theme revolved around creating context around open data, something that all three of the Media Sandbox projects aimed to do.

This notion was driven home further when I attended a later panel focusing on ‘Online journalism and open data’. As Paul Bradshaw summed up perfectly; “releasing data isn’t enough – to make it meaningful for an end-user you need to give it context”.
The example he gave was that through open data Birmingham City Council was shown to have the highest number of CCTV cameras in the UK. Yet without the information alongside that data to show that Birmingham is the UK’s biggest Council, that data has no framework to tell the whole story.

Delib's 'I Heart My City project'

Data rarely comes in a meaningful format, you always need to do something with it to make it more meaningful (in this case linking data together). Technology developed needs to act as a bridge to not only provide data, but also build context. This is something that the impressive OpenlyLocal site has at its fundamentals.

Going back to Delib’s ‘I Heart My City’ project, the recommendations we put forward feed directly into the notion of providing context. At a basic level, authorities need to provide contextual internal spending data as well as straight-spending – e.g Salaries of staff involved in providing a service, cost of service ground rents etc. It’s not a case of releasing all the data available, but more a case of building a framework to provide valuable insight.

Since the Bristol Media Sandbox, Delib have been using our insights into open data in our work with local authorities to ensure that the appetite for releasing council data is matched by providing usable, accessible and engaging stories.