Tag Archives: digital democracy canada

Angry Vancouver and how not to do mass-scale crowd sourcing ;-)

Vancouver’s been very good to me today. Not only did I wake up to find a massive snowy mountain staring at me from across the water, but I also ended up chatting to some really interesting people – largely thanks to the lovely (and heavily pregnant) Susannah Haas Lyons, who did an amazing job of pulling in a nice and surprisingly large crowd to a digital democracy seminar to hear me chunter on about Angry Birds and doing mass scale crowd-sourcing (badly).

Vancouver talk

For those who missed my spiel, it basically mixed lessons from running one of the biggest online crowd-sourcing processes in the world (involving 500,000 people, and 10,000’s of ideas), with thoughts about how Angry Birds can help save democracy.

Here’s pretty much all the insights I shared about mass-scale crowd-sourcing, from the work we ran with the UK Coalition 18 months back:

Adventures in digital democracy

And here’s my Angry Birds inspired thoughts on how gaming (and throwing birds at pigs) can save democracy:

Angry Government

And it seemed it was the Angry Government part of my talk that inspired the most interest, as it set people’s minds flowing as to how they could improve their consultation processes in a fairly simple but fundamental way by thinking about how they can *gamify* their process a little, and make the whole thing more engaging.

In particular, there seemed to be a real interest in our My2050 project and also for the Budget Simulator app that British Columbia have been using to consult on their 2012 budget setting process.

Throughout the session there was a whole range of different questions asked, but I’d say for the most part they were linked to the practicalities of running consultations online, which was encouraging as it showed a real willing to start doing more online. So I ended my talk by pointing out that the best thing to get into digital engagement is to try it – and luckily all our apps are v.low cost to use (and some are free, like the Dialogue App) allowing people to give it a go and themselves iteratively improve their own process over time, just as we’ve iteratively improved our suite of apps over time with experience.

As a quick flag for all engagement professionals in Canada, we’ve now installed servers in Canada (they’re based in BC) so you can be sure that your data will be safely stored on Canadian soil. Additionally, we’re in the process of setting up privacy and data policies to ensure they adhere to Canadian guidelines too. These are just some of the small but significant steps we’re taking to make sure that it’s safe and easy for Canadian government to do more online consultation, better.

Huge thanks to Susannah for organising the event, along with the guys from Simon Fraser University’s Community Education Program for hosting.


Digital democracy Toronto – day #1 tour round-up

From all my travelling around the world spreading the good Delib word, you always notice country trends. One of the biggest areas of interest in this space I’d noticed on Twitter in Canada is #Urbanplanning, with a huge amount of buzz and chat in this space.

Toronto city scape (in cardboard)

So it was really nice to start my tour of Canada by stopping off for a coffee with @ChrisJamesDrew, who’s a passionate urban planner and Tweeter. Chris flagged up the fact that Toronto has the highest number of cranes of any city around the world – it has 142 at present compared its closest rival Mexico City which has 84 – a number which shows why perhaps there’s some much buzz around urban planning. Other than this natty stat, Chris pointed out a number of interesting things going on in the urban planning and Gov2.0 space in Toronto and wider Ontario Province, including:

  • 4th Wall of City Hall: a project by neighbourhood planning activist Dave Meslin to encourage citizen engagement across Toronto City Council.
  • Adam Vaughan: the councillor for the Trinity and Spadina areas (where as it happens I’ve been staying), who’s highly active in the neighbourhood planning space, and a big advocate of community engagement.
  • Spacing.ca: an awesome magazine (and blog) sharing the latest and greatest innovations in the urban planning space.

Following coffee, I stopped off for lunch with @JohnCarson who also shared some interesting Canadian tidbits in this space, including UrbanToronto.ca, and then hot footed it to Toronto’s City Hall to chat to their citizen engagement team.

Toronto’s City Hall rates as one of the most awesome city hall’s I’ve ever visited from an architectural perspective – up there with Warringah Civic centre in New South Wales (Australia) which was my previous number one!

Toronto City Hall

I always find it fascinating talking to governments around the world, as invariably they all face the same challenges, so I was pleased I could share some tasty insights and thoughts on how they could progress their multi-channel engagement strategy, looking at adopting a *government as a participative platform* type-model.

To finish the day, I had the great pleasure of hanging out with the extremely inspiring team from MASS, who I serendipitously bumped into on Twitter. Over a Canadian (extra strong) beer or two, we chatted at their (very cool) offices about re-imagining citizen engagement, and then headed down to their local Irish restaurant (and my first experience of Irish-themed food) where we were joined by the equally interesting @RyanMerkely who discussed his fascinating work with the Mozilla Foundation.

MASS office Toronto
All in all, I have to say my time in Toronto has been way too short, but very inspiring. From a city perspective, my general observations of Toronto is that’s a pretty laid-back city with some great quirky neighbourhoods, my favourite being Trinity (where I was staying). The only downsides from my short experience have been broadly poor coffee (although I did find an awesome coffee shop called Little Nicky’s which does a mean mini-donuts) and a not-so-great public transport system (including pretty unwelcoming and argumentative bus drivers).

Next time I come back I’m definitely going to have to spend more than 24 hours in the city, get a *good coffee guidebook* and hire a motorised scooter. Next stop Ottawa 😉