Tag Archives: government

Social innovation is happening: will Government join in?

This autumn the UK Government departments responsible for citizen empowerment, tech-supported innovation, and democratic engagement have a chance to catch a wave of optimism about what might be achieved through more open, cross-sector collaborations. But will they rise to the opportunity? There are some encouraging signs. read more »

Simon advises on digital empowerment

I’m delighted that my friend Simon Berry will be advising Government over the next few months on how to use new technologies and online tools for community empowerment.
Simon will be seconded to the Department of Community and Local Government, that is producing a community empowerment White Paper in the summer. As you can see here from Simon’s blog the job will involve:

working with policy colleagues to develop specific policy options that use new technologies and online tools to support communities in shaping their local place and services. This will include undertaking cost/benefit assessments for specific policy options

developing CLG’s role in using new technologies to promote community empowerment and building alliances across government with Ministry of Justice, DCMS, the Cabinet Office & other relevant government departments

using new technologies as part of the policy development process

advising on delivery models for the new technologies policies and identifying in particular how new policies would work with technologies and approaches already being tried

I can’t think of anyone better for the job, since Simon has a strong background in community development, uses social media personally with panache, and is chief exec of Ruralnet|UK that has just developed a great set of empowering online tools through an open innovation process.

True to form Simon has announced the appointment using Twitter and said he was open to ideas.

My first suggestion was to do some mapping of the landscape – who is who in the field in and out of government. Even better, get together a bunch of well-networked people together for a few hours and have them draw the maps. Then work out a process by which you help them all connect up, and do the advisory job for you.

My other suggestion would be to help the civil servants involved get some experience of what new technologies and online tools can actually do. The problem in my experience is that they have limited access at work to social media, and also limited time to experiment. That puts them at a big disadvantage in responding to ideas. No good talking about blogs and video if they aren’t allowed on the desktop.

Fortunately Jeremy Gould at Ministry of Justice is developing a strong Whitehall webby network following on from the UKGovwebBarcamp and was one of the first to offer Simon some connections. I suspect the challenge will lie in bridging the gap between the increasingly-sophisticated social media types in Government, and the policy people.

On that front, I think the potential trap lies in ended up as an increasingly frantic messenger trying to carry recommendations from one group to the other. The real break-through will come if Simon can convince his new colleagues of the virtues of open innovation by which people learn from each other. I think there is a lot of goodwill among the social media and other tech communities, and lots going on including the 4Good Festival on July 2-3 as I mentioned the other day. I should know more about that by the end of the week.