Tag Archives: dialogue

8 things we learnt from our Citizen Space and Dialogue user group, London 2017

We had a really fantastic and inspiring day at our London 2017 user group last week. For the second year running we were grateful to be hosted by The Department of Health (DH) in Whitehall. The room was full, with over 40 Delib customers, and we were treated to a really good variety of presentations.

Read on for my top takeaways from the day.

We heard from DH about what they have learnt about who they consult with, using insight from their Citizen Space, and BEIS about how Citizen Space has helped them to improve their internal processes with regard to preparing and publishing consultations with policy colleagues.

Network Rail talked about the approach they take to communicating with 15 million people per year, and we heard from Camden Council about their upcoming consultation using Dialogue to start a two-way conversation with residents about the future of the borough.

West Sussex Council talked about how they use Citizen Space for more than just public consultations, and how this has saved them money, and time.

In amongst that:

  • Michelle from The Democratic Society talked about some examples of consultation best practice from around the world.
  • Andy from Delib gave an overview of product updates in 2017, including the fact that Citizen Space usage continues to grow and that growth is speeding up – there are now upwards of 11,400 consultations published to our Citizen Space Aggregator.
  • Louise from Delib shared examples of some of the many really interesting and high profile consultations that have been published on Citizen Space in the last 12 months.

Here are eight things we heard from customers on the day that we think could be useful for others:

  • Citizen Space can help organisations to understand who they are consulting with, (and therefore who they are not consulting with). This insight can help to demonstrate to others where targeted communication needs to happen, to maximise responses from those whose voices need to be heard.
  • Target your communications, but then be sure to sustain those communications throughout the period of the consultation, rather than just at the outset. This will increase the likelihood of yielding higher response rates.
  • Because Citizen Space enables analysis straight away and while the consultation is still open, it is possible to see where the gaps are and target communications dynamically.
  • Making use of as much imagery as possible (maps, charts, pictures etc) will make consultations much more accessible and inviting. We all know this, but it can sometimes be easy to miss out, if there is a tight deadline, or if image copyright is difficult to get around.
  • Be creative with the tools that you already have – we heard from West Sussex about how they are using Citizen Space for things other than consultation, such as application forms, library competitions etc. Our customer described this as ‘being naughty’ but we fully support it!
  • It can sometimes feel like a risk to give people the opportunity and responsibility to have their say but, more often than not, participants will rise to that challenge and respond positively – wise words from Shane at Camden. We couldn’t agree more!
  • Genuine buy-in at a high level can really help to enable more open engagement. For members of staff who might feel nervous about opening discussion up with the public, it can really help to have express senior permission.
  • If you enable the public to ask questions openly, you can then provide the answers openly, which saves time for all involved – why answer the same question privately over and over again?

And finally, from my perspective, having that many customers in one room, sharing their own learning and experiences with each other was really wonderful, and like I said at the start, very inspiring.

So, all in all, a great day. We’re already making plans for next year’s user groups, and for those of you in that part of the world, our Canberra user group is coming up – on Thursday 26th October.

Have a look at the Delib twitter feed for our real-time take on the day.

Another Outcome From The #yourfreedom Dialogue

It’s been interesting to see just how much criticism has emerged over the last few months of the ‘Your Freedom’ national dialogue the government ran using our Dialogue App.

Some of it’s contained some interesting ideas for how things could be done differently for another one, but some of it’s just been nonsense. One of the biggest fallacies has been that nothing has happened as a result of it. We’ve already documented on this blog some of the things that have changed as a result of suggestions made, and it would be interesting to put a full list together someday.

But spotted another one in the Guardian the other day, the fact that, due to a suggestion submitted to the Your Freedom Dialogue, the law around what time of day you can get married will now be changed. Here’s the quote

“It also contains some quirky proposals such as relaxing matrimonial laws to allow people to marry outside the hours of 8am to 6pm and repealing the right of police officers to enter your home to search for German enemy property. The change in the marriage hours stems from suggestions on the government’s Your Freedom website and is likely to trigger a mini-boom in evening wedding venues.”

Sure, it may be seen as quirky, but it’s another direct change that will have a real impact on a real industry and on real people.

Another Dialogue App Launched

Always good to report shipping news from the studio here at Delib Towers.

Today we’ve shipped another Dialogue App for our good friends at NAPA in the USA. This one’s a National Dialogue on Green and Healthy Homes, which you can read more about here.

The nice thing about Dialogue App is that it’s so easy to put together a customised one for people if they want it. This one’s got a custom design primarily, with a Youtube video embedded into the homepage, a ‘jump into the dialogue’ button which takes people to a random idea in the site, and of course its own URL.

Will be interesting to see how many ideas, tags and comments get submitted to this one. The Spending Challenge Dialogue did set the bar rather high after all.

Jolitics – Yet More Online Politics

Another day, another e-democracy project. Michael Birch, the guy who co-founded the linguistically incomprehensible world of Bebo, is setting up a new site called ‘Jolitics’ to get young people more involved in politics and decision making.

It’s yet another take on the same old proposition of ‘how can we get young people interested in politics – I know, let’s use the internet’ which has been debunked enough times on here before. That said though, there are a few things in its favour.

First of all, it’s got money behind it, and people who know how to make successful websites, two factors that rarely come together.

That said though, it’s not clear just how much political theory is behind it, or rather which political theory is. It’s going to allow users to nominate other users to vote on their behalf on certain issues if they want. On the one hand it’s representative democracy in action, fine, but on the other there’s a risk it could turn into thoughtless block voting, which is a practice rarely good for democracy. Their take on how to stop the site being manipulated by interest groups seems a little naive at the moment too.

There’s more about it in the Telegraph here, see what you think.

Bristol e-Participatory Budgeting Pilot Working Well

As we’ve mentioned before, we do far more interesting work here at Delib than we can talk about, due to client sensitivities. Even more important though, we rarely get to talk about the results of what we do in terms of actual hard data as, well, that’s the client’s data, not ours.

So it’s nice to be able to talk about one project we’re doing at the moment that’s going really well. It’s an e-participatory budgeting pilot with the Bristol Partnership, which we’ve covered here before for those new to it, and it’s going great guns.

In essence, the Partnership had been, and indeed still is, running public meetings to decide what some of the neighbourhood budgets should be spent on across the city. However, they wanted to take that opportunity online, with a view to engaging the participation of more people, and ideally from a younger demographic too.

Results as of ‘half time’ for the project a few weeks ago show that both of these things have been more than achieved. 130 people had registered on the site by that point, and 30 ideas had been submitted, a participation rate that, whilst small in terms of the internet, is substantially larger than participation in offline public meetings held to date. Both figures have grown since this data was published too.

Interestingly, and perhaps as we might have expected, the site hasn’t seen a massive flood from the ‘young people’ (under 18) demographic, as the idea that ‘the internet = young people’ is as much of a myth as it’s always been. That said, the bell curve for age demographics has moved down about 20 years in age compared with attendees at meetings, showing the project has indeed worked to get ‘younger people’ involved.

Location was another thing that the site asked respondents to state, and this has shown a happy clustering of respondents from around the three wards in which the pilot funding will be spent. So people are engaging in their local area, but others are having their say too, just as intended, especially given one of the pilot wards covers the city centre, used by pretty much all Bristolians from time to time.

One final point to note, which may be of especial interest to local authorities moving to a more customer focused approach at the moment. A sizable proportion of the ideas submitted turned out not to need funding after all, and could be got on with more quickly. These ranged from ideas actually being issues that were able to be passed directly on to council officers for action, to users being able to help each other. In one instance, one user suggested it would be good to fund having bus timetables on your mobile phone, and another replied saying that they’d already worked out how to do it, and gave instructions on how to do so!

The council has thus benefitted both from opening another channel for listening to customer feedback and encouraging the wisdom of crowds, in addition to the intended benefits provided by the pilot project itself.

So, the project’s working, the client’s happy, and if you fancy having your say as someone who has ideas for improvements in Bristol, then head over to www.itsmybristol.org and sign up!

Making things better from a hospital bed

Pain can be a beautiful thing. And in my case quite an inspiring thing too. For the last 5 days I’ve been stuck in hospital with severe back pains – which have meant I’ve been totally bed bound, and completely dependent on the nurses at Kings College Hospital London (who have – by the way – been really great!)

Anyway, lying in bed – in pain – inspired me yesterday morning: could I be of any use to hospital lying here? The hospital staff are being great – but could I add anything – could I help improve how the hospital is run?

And the answer is of course YES. As a patient I – and the hundreds of other patients – are in the best place to help the hospital improve, as we’re the ones at the coal-face, experiencing the end products that the hospital delivers – whether that’s a quick fix in A&E, or a longer stay in one of the wards.

The only issue is how you collate and make sense of this collective experience. And the answer to that is the internet – create a crowd-sourcing website with a focus on collating “ideas of how to improve the hospital” and let patients share ideas, and self-organise the value of those ideas via rating and commenting systems. Given I’m the co-founder of an e-democracy company – Delib – that specialises in citizen empowerment – this was the easy bit!

So lying in my hospital bed – I asked a couple of my colleagues in Bristol to quickly put together a patient crowd-sourcing site using our one of our apps – and 2 hours later we launched “Help us Improve Kings”.

Check the site here (and add ideas if you have any!)

With the prototype site up and live, I’m now in the process of getting patients to take part and share their experiences and ideas – a bit of a tricky feat given I can’t walk, but they’re coming in slowly as I lynch people walking past my room! I’m also in the process of talking to the Patient Involvement team @ Kings – as obviously to make this work, we really need them on board to actually turn the ideas generated into concrete actions.

So there you go – an example of bottom-up patient power – empowered by the wonders of broadband and a wonderful set of e-democracy tools. Social media empowerment at its finest!

And most importantly this is a lesson to all those brands / businesses / government departments out there who are trying to work out how to make their business work better – the answer: empower your customers and employees and they will in turn help power your business!

Chris’ interview with Public Affairs News

Yesterday I popped down to the Public Affairs News offices to chat to their editor – Ian Hall. The nice guy that he is – he offered to do a quick interview with me for their PAN TV section. [see below]. I’m never massively good at chatting on camera (I’m making a considered effort to get better!) mainly due to my over “errring”.

Anyway, the main thrust of what I was trying to say in my interview related to “the next 12 months in policy consultation”. And my main point was to say that I thought policy consultation would be moving towards a more dialogue-based model, rather than consultation-based model, with UK civil-servants taking a lead from Obama’s team’s work, and also tips from the likes of Starbucks and Dell who’ve been successfully crowd-sourcing service improvement ideas from their customers for the last few years.

That’s what I wanted to say – see what came out of my mouth when faced by a camera!