Tag Archives: public sector

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.



Why share consultation results?

So, your Citizen Space consultation is closed and the results are in and analysed, but what can you do to share the results and outcomes?

Why Share Outcomes?

Most respondents who take part in a consultation want to know that their time is being valued. One of the best ways to ensure that these individuals both want to take part in your consultations and will keep coming back in the future is by publishing the outcomes of the consultation when it has finished. This way you can ensure that your constituents know that you are listening to them.

When respondents know that their participation is being taken seriously they are more likely to get involved in future consultations, as well as encouraging friends and family to take part. They will feel that their individual response has been valued, and, in turn, they will enter into the whole process with a more open and serious attitude.

We Asked, You Said, We Did

One of the features of Citizen Space is the WAYSWD section. This allows you to feed back once the consultation is complete, and lots of our Citizen Space customers use it to good effect. It allows you to quickly remind those who took part what the consultation was about, summarise the general feelings of respondents, and explain what has been done as a result of the consultation.

Many of our customers are already using this feature to keep respondents abreast of what has been done as a result of their feedback. For good examples of how organisations are already using the feature, see the following:

Avon and Somerset Constabulary
Barnet Council

More Detailed Reporting

We Asked, You Said, We Did is great for giving respondents a simple update, but sometimes a more detailed review of the results and outcomes may be required. If you have run a controversial consultation, or one that has involved large numbers of respondents, you might want to give a more detailed report of what was said, and what has and will be done as a result. A number of our customers offer detailed reports after their consultations, and these three are great examples of the different ways in which you can approach a report:

BBC Trust
We Are Camden
Bristol City Council

Reports can range from 5 pages to over 100, and vary in style and substance. Some are very data heavy, publishing large amounts of data that the reader can interpret as they wish. Others are very text heavy, having already extrapolated the data, summarising it and making it more accessible. They vary from very stylised to very functional, very complex to very simple. There are no hard and fast rules for what a report should look like.

One thing is certain: publishing a report doesn’t have to be as excessively arduous or time-consuming as it may, at first, seem. There are plenty of things you can do to make your life easier when you’re trying to break down responses. The “Request Summary Report” feature in Citizen Space allows you to quickly overview the questions you asked and turns qualitative responses into useful graphs and charts. You can also export all of the responses from a consultation in .CSV format, which can be opened in a number of different programs including Microsoft Excel and Google Drive.

Consultation reports do not just benefit stakeholders; they can also help you to reflect on what you are going to do as a result of their participation. The process of writing a report encourages you to consider how the consultation has (or, in some cases) has not changed a policy decision, and how best to tell your stakeholders and constituents what part they have played. Ultimately consultations are all about engagement, and publishing your outcomes can keep stakeholders, voters, and other members of the public involved in the decision-making process.

For more on why consultation analysis is important and why prior planning is key to a good consultation, see Ben’s article on the Democratic Society’s Open Policy Making website.

Social Media in the Public Sector: Who’s Using it and How?

A couple of interesting stories caught my eye today relating to the use of social media in the public sector, which I thought I’d share:

How Local Authorities in England Are Using Social Media

Dean Spurrell from Ashford Borough Council has shared some interesting insight into how local authorities in England are using social media. In terms of uptake, 96% of the 78 local authorities he surveyed are currently using social media with the remaining few who aren’t planning to do so next year.

Although these are promising statistics, he argues there’s room for improvement in how the local authorities are actually using their social media accounts. Although the majority (two thirds) use it for a mix of one-way and two-way communications, 15% of local authorities were only using it for one-way communications and thus weren’t using their social media presence to fully engage with citizens.

It should come as no surprise that the most popular social media platforms used by the local authorities are Twitter (97.5%) and Facebook (93.2%) but it’s interesting to see that a majority are using YouTube (62.7%) and nearly half are on Flickr (47.5%). It will be interesting to see how many local authorities choose to expand their social media strategies to accommodate the recent exponential growth of Pinterest.

Read the post on the British Politics and Policy at LSE blog.

23 Examples of Good Social Media in the Public Sector

Over on Governing People, Dan Slee has put together 23 examples of where the public sector are using social media effectively. The majority of the examples are from the UK, including how Birmingham City Council are streaming their council meetings whilst encouraging comments and feedback on Twitter through the #bcclive hashtag.

The post also highlights some interesting examples of how new social media platforms are being utilised by the public sector in the US. The US Army has its own page on the new social network Pinterest which is now the third most popular social network in the US.

The team behind it have clearly done their research into what gets shared by users (the majority of whom are female) by providing a board for patriotic food items, DIY decor and women in the US army.

Another interesting example is how the new Facebook Timeline is being used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). They’ve structured it so that you can view footage from from the relevant year by selecting it on the timeline with the page including content dating back to NASA’s opening in 1958.

Learn more about all 23 examples on Governing People.

Got any other interesting stories or articles to share?

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.