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April 15, 2014

Many of our plans of any type are way too vague, too wishy-washy, too unwilling to lay any groundwork to actually get anything done.  We say crap like "encourage more compact land use"  "facilitate entrepreneurial growth"  "support businesses that increase tax base."   And even when, once in a while, we actually set some time or performance benchmarks, like "recruit 13 new businesses in one year" or "create a form-based code," too often those get picked out of the air -- because we know that we're supposed to have benchmarks, but the mealymouth stuff we put in the plan doesn't actually give us any sound basis for setting those goals.  Or -- and this might be even more important -- the process of developing it didn't build the kind of broad support, the cross-party ownership, to get those hard decisions through the political processes.

April 14, 2014

At the same time government has hardly changed since the days of quill, ink and vellum. Separate departments strung along Whitehall operate largely independently of each other. This leads to departments chunking up problems in ways that they can understand, have the mandate and skills to deal with, to policy cycles dictated by parliamentary, media and electoral timetables.

But citizens don’t think like this. They don’t think of government as the stretch of buildings along Whitehall, but as the school their children attend and the hospital they rush their sick relative to. Their daily life and existing work and family commitments are on a totally different schedule (daily, monthly and annually) to the often absurd parliamentary and media timetables. They want to engage when they feel energised to do so, not when it works for government

by 

The democracy revolution is not inevitable and Involve has a central role in helping to make it happen: this post highlights my vision for a democracy fit for the 21st Century and is based on what I said at Involve’s 10th Birthday party tonight. 

April 14, 2014
  1. ‘How do I know that an active minority will not monopolize the process?’
  2. ‘Collaborating takes time and I don’t have much of it. How can I find the time to do this properly?’
  3. ‘Every time I invite the community to consider an important matter they seem to be after blood. How can we have a reasonable and meaningful conversation about such matters (without getting bashed up)?’
  4. ‘Every time I ask what people want I end up with an unrealistic wish-list. Then when I don’t deliver on all of it people feel not listened to, and let down. How can I work with communities without setting up myself up for failure?’
  5. ‘People voted me in because they thought I could be a strong leader for them. How can I look like a credible leader when I keep asking for their help?’

By Max Hardy

I was enjoying a conversation and coffee with a friend the other day. After sharing a few stories with her about my work with executives and elected representatives, she asked, ‘Have you recorded any of this anywhere?’ I confessed I hadn’t.

Of particular interest to my friend were the questions that elected representatives have asked me in relation to collaborating with their communities. Perhaps you’ll find them of interest as well.

April 11, 2014

By Mark Headd

Sustaining civic technology will mean that both government’s IT infrastructure and the civic technology sector that builds on it will need to change.

A pair of recent blog posts caught my eye and highlighted this theme in my head, and motivated me to capture a few thoughts on this topic.

April 8, 2014

When it comes to online community engagement, there are many things to think about. Here are my top 5 nuggets o’wisdom that I hope you’ll serve up with a side of fries and a large Coke!

1. Heat Seeking Missile like Focus

Think about what action you want people to take on your page and make this the focus.

By Tracey Gobey

When it comes to online community engagement, there are many things to think about. Here are my top 5 nuggets o’wisdom that I hope you’ll serve up with a side of fries and a large Coke!

1. Heat Seeking Missile like Focus

March 20, 2014

Digital technology is quickly integrating into our lives: recent data from the Pew Research Center show that 91% of American adults own a cell phone, among which 58% are smartphones. If you are still questioning the pervasiveness of digital technology, simply watch a 2-year-old toddler unlocking your smartphone or tablet and making it all the way to her favorite game (or your emails). Civic participation in comprehensive planning is no exception to this trend: an increasing number of municipalities and government agencies are using digital community engagement tools to reach broader audiences, make the process innovative and fun, and complement traditional in-person strategies.

March 11, 2014

I get asked a lot by people who are interested in helping out open source projects, but have absolutely no programming skills. What can they do? Well, here are a few ideas how non-programmers can contribute to open source projects.

By Duncan McKean. Cross-posted from Opensource.com.

I get asked a lot by people who are interested in helping out open source projects, but have absolutely no programming skills. What can they do? Well, here are a few ideas how non-programmers can contribute to open source projects.

It is worth noting that it is best to contribute to software that you actually use yourself. That way you feel the benefits.

March 11, 2014

Around the world, parliaments, governments, civil society organizations, and even individual parliamentarians, are taking measures to make the legislative process more participatory. Some are creating their own tools — often open source, which allows others to use these tools as well — that enable citizens to markup legislation or share ideas on targeted subjects. Others are purchasing and implementing tools developed by private companies to good effect. In several instances, these initiatives are being conducted through collaboration between public institutions and civil society, while many compliment online and offline experiences to help ensure that a broader population of citizens is reached.

The list below provides examples of some of the more prominent efforts to engage citizens in the legislative process.

by Andrew Mandelbaum

Thanks to Ariana Tuckey for assistance in drafting this post.

March 10, 2014
With cities seeking to involve diverse voices in city-making to get beyond “the usual suspects,” Vancouver urbanists Brent Toderian and Jillian Glover examine how cities in their region are finding new ways to increase civic participation.
 

By Brent Todrian and Jillian Glover

March 7, 2014

What difference do we make for the businesses and citizens who ultimately pay our salaries? And how do we gauge the difference that we make? For the last seven years, MindLab has been very keen to gauge the effect of the work that we do and it goes a long way back. Already back in 2007, while we were in the process of defining how MindLab would conduct its work, we were paid a visit by David Hunter. Hunter is recognised for his work on the gauging of effect and on change theory in the U.S.A. He has also worked with a number of organisations in Denmark. He helped us to develop a theory of change as well as indicators and the tools to with which to measure them. The result was an impressive chart.

 

March 6, 2014

"We are seeing technology-driven networks replacing bureacratically-driven hierarchies," says VC and futurist Fred Wilson, speaking on what to expect in the next ten years. Check out the 21 innovations below.

 

Across the planet, new technologies and business models are decentralizing power and placing it in the hands of communities and individuals. 

"We are seeing technology-driven networks replacing bureacratically-driven hierarchies," says VC and futurist Fred Wilson, speaking on what to expect in the next ten years. View the entire 25-minute video below (it's worth it!) and then check out the 21 innovations below.

March 4, 2014

Every data wrangler has their own list of favorites – the go to tools that they use when they need to work with data.

If you need to clean, transform, or mashup data or if you are working with a data set that will form the basis for an application, here is a list of tools that can make life easier for you.

By Mark Headd

Every data wrangler has their own list of favorites – the go to tools that they use when they need to work with data.

If you need to clean, transform, or mashup data or if you are working with a data set that will form the basis for an application, here is a list of tools that can make life easier for you.

March 4, 2014

Organisations thrive when they engage effectively with their stakeholders. But with the advent of online tools that make it simpler to engage, inform and consult with stakeholders, it’s now essential to put digital at the heart of your stakeholder engagement strategy.

If you do, the rewards can be significant. Depending on which sector you work in, digital stakeholder engagement can deliver more customers, better-formulated policy, well-managed projects, innovation and more.

Creating an effective stakeholder engagement strategy is, however, easier said than done. But with over a decade of experience helping organisations engage online with their stakeholders, we’ve found there are just 4 key steps. We’ve written this post to take you through them.

Organisations thrive when they engage effectively with their stakeholders. But with the advent of online tools that make it simpler to engage, inform and consult with stakeholders, it’s now essential to put digital at the heart of your stakeholder engagement strategy.

If you do, the rewards can be significant. Depending on which sector you work in, digital stakeholder engagement can deliver more customers, better-formulated policy, well-managed projects, innovation and more.

February 21, 2014

Francis Ortiz Ocaña had written a wonderful article titled “Cocktail de Tecnologías para Smart Cities” with some really cool infographics in spanish for the (online) environmental organization i-ambiente outlining his thoughts on the geospatial technologies that will enable smart cities to be truly “smart”, which is the base of this article (a translated version of the original article but in typical geoawesome style :) Let’s look at the technologies for Smart Cities!

By Muthukumar Kumar

The concept of Smart Cities has been gaining momentum in the last few years. I believe it is a natural progression considering that more than 70% of Human Population is predicted to be living in cities within the next few decades. While the definition of Smart Cities is still undergoing several revisions, there is no discounting the impact Geospatial technologies and spatial data will have on making the smart cities truly “smart”.

February 20, 2014

Seventy people gathered together one sunny Oakland afternoon to volunteer and improve their city. There were no rakes or yard tools normally seen at volunteer-day events though. No paint brushes, no trash bags, no canned soup bins. These seventy people were laden with laptops and were volunteering to improve the city’s website.

What is civic hacking?

Seventy people gathered together one sunny Oakland afternoon to volunteer and improve their city. There were no rakes or yard tools normally seen at volunteer-day events though. No paint brushes, no trash bags, no canned soup bins. These seventy people were laden with laptops and were volunteering to improve the city’s website.

January 9, 2014

Thanks to technology, more people are creating content and collaborating online in ways that were not possible before. But transformation in society doesn’t happen when it adopts new tools, it happens when it adopts new behaviours. Many young people have grown up adopting these behaviours to interact with people, solve problems and get things done.

Working with Kent Connects, a partnership of public services, we developed Transformed by You; working with entrepreneurs, local groups and students to research and design solutions to local challenges.

Here are some tips on how you can get local people involved in uncovering needs in their community and designing solutions to them.

By Noel Hatch

Thanks to technology, more people are creating content and collaborating online in ways that were not possible before. But transformation in society doesn’t happen when it adopts new tools, it happens when it adopts new behaviours. Many young people have grown up adopting these behaviours to interact with people, solve problems and get things done.

December 23, 2013

While it is essential that we use technology to tackle issues, it is just as important that we involve the people we serve in this process.Working with Kent Connects, a partnership of public services, we developed Transformed by You; working with entrepreneurs, local groups and students to research and design solutions to local challenges.

Here are some tips on how you can get local people involved in uncovering needs in their community and designing solutions to them.

 By Noel Hatch

Thanks to technology, more people are creating content and collaborating online in ways that were not possible before. But transformation in society doesn’t happen when it adopts new tools, it happens when it adopts new behaviours. Many young people have grown up adopting these behaviours to interact with people, solve problems and get things done.

December 20, 2013

In this digital age, technology is altering how we engage with the world, offering new avenues for social change. Like any other tech-driven sociological shift, the expansion of these technologies of engagement requires our attention because it shifts the dynamics of social organization. This has important implications for how we protect and build peace. And yet most discussions on technology and peace focus only on how ICTs can help in early warning and crisis response. Few pay attention to the use of technology for peacebuilding, social cohesion and peace advocacy. My colleague Anne Kahl and I have just published this article in Stability Journal’s Special Collection on new technologies for conflict prevention in an attempt to expand the discussion to cover other areas of peacebuilding practice and other technologies of engagement.

In particular, we propose a simple taxonomy of functions that technology can have in peacebuilding:

By Helena Puig Larrauri 

Peace through technology: a framework

Posted on November 25, 2013by 
December 19, 2013

Working in a democratic rather than a service context means that you have to write your digital content a little differently.  As a scrutiny team we have been thinking about how we can produce content on our website that councillors will want to share and engage the public with.  Here are the seven points we have come up with - some apply to all digital content, some have a democratic twist.

Working in a democratic rather than a service context means that you have to write your digital content a little differently.  As a scrutiny team we have been thinking about how we can produce content on our website that councillors will want to share and engage the public with.  Here are the seven points we have come up with - some apply to all digital content, some have a democratic twist.
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December 18, 2013

I can see the attraction of setting up a Facebook space – making use of a tool everyone already uses, it’s quick to do, no technical skills are needed and no forms to fill. But for internal business related communities of practice Facebook also has a number of important limitations and for most circumstances I wouldn’t recommend it for this purpose. Here’s why:

By Ian Thorpe

I was recently asked by some colleagues to help them set up a Facebook page for a community of practice for a small group of field based UN staff working in a number of challenging locations. They preferred Facebook over the UN’s official systems for this purpose as according to them everyone uses Facebook, and it’s more user-friendly.

November 25, 2013

When you’ve got the right purpose, stakeholders and management processes in place, make sure you give stakeholders access to the most appropriate tools for the tasks in hand. This is how you can do it.

One of the most positive results of the Government’s ‘digital by default’ agenda is the way it’s inspiring public sector organisations to experiment with Cloud software.

Freed from the restrictions of on-premise solutions, public employees are discovering how simple it is to try out cloud software services and just ‘give it a go’.

November 15, 2013

For public participation practitioners charged with involving publics in decision making, the one question to ask when considering crowdsourcing is how it will fit into the overall process, whether as a core decision making mechanism or in a supporting role.

By Tim Bonnemann

It was a pleasure to finally meet Daren Brabham in person at the 2013 IAP2 North America Conference (listen to my 2010 This Week in Participation interview with him on crowdsourcing in urban planning).

November 12, 2013

From toxics to human rights, advocates are increasingly focusing on consumer facing brands to drive change on environmental and social issues. Corporate campaigns have been going strong for decades, but with the rise of social media, higher demand for supply chain transparency and increasingly savvy coordination between activist networks, companies are scrambling to address stakeholder concerns before they bubble into conflict.

1. Respond quickly and genuinely

If your company has received a letter or call regarding...

Today I am very happy to announce a partnership with Future 500– a non-profit organization that envisions a world that realizes sustainable economic growth by addressing social and environmental externalities with market-based solutions. Future 500 unites the corporate and NGO sector to break through gridlock, encourage thoughtful solutions, and achieve broad systemic change.

November 7, 2013

I put out a call to the Twitter community for Twitter hash-tags relating to community engagement practice.

For anyone who doesn’t know, hash-tags on Twitter form aggregations of tweets on a particular subject. You can follow a hash-tag and follow tweets relating to the subject. It’s a great way to filter that Twitter stream. The problem, if indeed such a simple yet useful device can have a problem, is that the hash-tags can be very diverse. Sometimes a subject can get spread across so many #s that it’s easy to miss out if you are following the wrong ones.

by Matthew Crozier

I put out a call to the Twitter community for Twitter hash-tags relating to community engagement practice.