Utilising Web 2.0 in local government

Web 2.0 - opportunities for collaboration

I was asked recently to produce an article for ITAdvisor on the topic of Web 2.0 in local government, and specifically, the areas in which Web 2.0 could be used, the resultant benefits that can be delivered and the key issues to be considered in order to ensure that the technologies are implemented successfully.

This proved more difficult than I first imagined, not least because there is so much going on across the sector in relation to Web 2.0 initiatives that it became more a case of what I would have to leave out rather what I could include. Particularly in view of a fairly tight word count limit that I was asked to meet. So, apologies in advance to anyone who’s pet project I haven’t mentioned, but I hope I have done some justice to the scope and scale of the work going on across local government to utilise the collaborative capabilities in Web 2.0 technology to provide more effective services to citizens.

The full article is available as a PDF, but for those who don’t have the time (or inclination) to read, the following is a brief abstract of the key points.

Utilising Web 2.0 in local government

Simple guidelines for Web 2.0 deployment

1. Don’t think about Web 2.0 or e-government as being just about technology. It is about saving time and making life easier and more efficient for citizens.

2. Make sure you are resourced to cope. No point setting up a blog that encourages comments if you can’t respond to each comment.

3. Carefully plan your strategy if using blogs. If it’s a council blog, make sure it’s part of a wider communications strategy and not the domain of one or two keen individuals.

4. Consider the reputational risks of publishing un-moderated citizen comments in online forums or blogs. Don’t assume comments represent universal opinion.

5. Identify the audience you are trying to reach and use the appropriate channel. Not everyone has an account on Facebook, Myspace or Bebo, and not everyone has Broadband. Know who you are excluding and plan for this.

6. Ensure there is a staff policy for using social media sites during working hours.

7. Most Web 2.0 solutions are relatively cheap to deploy. If spending more than £100k on an enterprise solution you’re doing something wrong – or you have particularly complex requirements!

Not intentionally contentious points, though I’m sure point 7 will stimulate some debate!

5 Comments

  1. Eddie Gibb said:

    Thanks for the mention of Redbridge i in your ITAdvisor article. We have recently completed amajor consultation on our capital investment programme that generated over 5000 responses to a ‘forced choice’ decision tool called ‘You Choose’ (www.redbridge.gov.uk/conversation)- ie tell what to spend money on, but also tell us how to raise that money (taxes, charges, sell assets) – and, as in life, they have to balance!

    Two-thirds of responses were online, the rest through a more conventional paper consultation. YoGov are analysing results and have been positive about data quality and representatvieness, dispite concerns about digital inclusion.

    Redbridge i has pre-moderated forums. We are currently reviewing policy on this, mindful about your ‘reputational risks’ issue. We have plans to develop an ultralocal version of Redbridge to be used as a community platform (Pledgebank, local budgeting, volunteering etc). Pre-moderation won’t be possible if this takes off. I’d be interested to hear your of others experience of making the switch and managing the fallout.

    September 26, 2008
    Reply
  2. Steve Dale said:

    Great to hear from you Eddie. Hope all is well – though sounds like it is. Redbridge are incresaingly being held up as an exemplar in the Web 2.0 world as applied to citizenn engagement – well deserved in my opinion!

    September 26, 2008
    Reply
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