Digital Local Government

I just saw my mate Dominic Campbell retweet something interesting from Monmouthshire County Council (yes, really!)

For those who don’t know Dominic, a) you NEED to be following him on Twitter, and b) he’s the great guy behind the consultancy FutureGov which runs a whole swathe of events and projects which are about encouraging and supporting government organisations as they come online. I’m a big fan!

Every time I see something like this, I immediately wonder how my local council is doing. So this evening, I had a quick poke at the Hampshire and Rushmoor websites (hint: Rushmoor, you don’t have to require the ‘www’, you can use a redirect), and followed that up with a look at neighbouring Surrey (I’ve just joined the new Digital Surrey committee, incidentally, and spend a lot of time there, so I have a legitimate interest). What I saw didn’t really encourage me, so I found the contact form on the Rushmoor Borough Council website, and for the sake of transparency on my part if not on theirs, here is what I posted:

Details of your comment/complaint:
Do you provide news or information via any social websites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or others? I’ve observed that several councils have begun to share budget information, provide important news alerts etc via these kinds of services and they would fit well with my lifestyle.
(http://twitter.com/#!/monmouthshirecc and http://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/site/scripts/news_article.php?newsID=386)

Are there RSS feeds for news from your site? Do you have any APIs for access to local information and data (http://www.sunderland.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4112)

Do you have any kind of digital engagement strategy and where can I find it?

What would you like us to do?
Provide better access to local information online and explain the council’s view of how to use new technology to engage with people.

I’ll be interested to read what they send back! I’ve been extremely disappointed with my local MP’s digital engagement (oh look, his Twitter stream abruptly stops about a month after the date of last year’s General Election, hmm!). Still, at least if the local councils need some help, I know a bunch of very good people to put them in touch with…

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3 responses to “Digital Local Government

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Digital Local Government | The lost outpost -- Topsy.com

  2. @HantsConnect on twitter are really good and responsive. So I let them off not having the redirect from http://hants.gov.uk to http://www.hants.gov.uk. I’ve had lots of useful twitter conversations with @HantsConnect.

    The council that hasn’t got a clue with Twitter is West Berks, they’re treating @WestBerkshire as a one way feed (they think Twitter is RSS) and took some nudging to get them to reply to one of my tweets in their direction. It’s like they haven’t realised that Twitter is a two way medium.

    Like

    • Thanks Dougie, I did not know about Hants, and that’s possibly partly because there’s no obvious pointer to @HantsConnect on their website (although I see that it crops up in news articles on HantsWeb, and that if you navigate to the right level you can get news from them via RSS).

      Having followed Hants I now have Twitter recommending me @WinchesterCity as well, another account which seems to be two-way. So it’s clear that some local authorities are seeing the value in the ability to communicate. I have also spotted the Open Data section on the Hants site (linked via Transparency on the main page).

      Interesting comparisons and contrasts between the ways that different #localgov organisations are offering information, anyway.

      Like

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