UK Gov Camp 2011 sessions of localism and hyperlocal sites and making a difference with data – notes and links

With Mike Rawlins, Nicky Getgood and Clare White from talk about local I had an enjoyable day at #UKGC11 at MicrosoftHQ on Saturday.  Thanks to Dave Briggs and Steph Grey for organising.  I convened sessions on localism and making a difference with data.

The localism session cantered through a whole range of hyperlocal issues with about 25 people crammed in the room.  Against a background of the localism bill that will require much more local discussion and consultation in critical areas such as planning and budgeting.  We figure that hyperlocal websites and tweets can play a helpful role in that.  There’s a simple plain English guide to the Bill, but the Bill will change as it goes through Parliament.  The discussion pinpointed several critical resources for beginners to local sites:

1 – Damian Radcliffes superb slide deck that covers local grass roots media in the uk from soup to nuts.

2 – Hugh Flouch and Kevin Harris excellent research into the impact of local sites conducted in the field

3 – If those two make you want to set a site up then turn to talk about local’s popular, easy to follow resources on how to make a simple site and then our real world guide with dozens of examples on what to write on it.

People should have a look more broadly at Nick Booth’s remarkable social media surgeries

We looked at a great range of well established hyperlocal sites

and a load of hyperlocal sites created in the last year or two by talk about local trainees such as

We also had a giggle at the in-character Ambridge Village hyperlocal site that talk about local worked with the BBC on.

On making a difference with data Janet Hughes of the GLA, Vicky Sargent of Boilerhouse and Kate Sahota of Warwickshire Council and I led a discussion on moving from publishing data to helping people use it.  Boilerhouse is running a project for Improvement and Efficiency West midlands to help people make a difference with data – they have a holding site up while talk about local and others help gather material, especially people talking about data, how they might use it  and what the obstacles might me. I have  fair few interviews now with data users and potential users on my audioboo page.  This followed on from my own and Phil Archer’s comments on a Guardian data blog article which took a poke at the government data store.  Phil also wrote up the session.

The consensus in the room was a need for the data community to engage with people who campaign out in ‘the real world’ – engaging with activists that organise demos, campaing to save libraries etc.  And make them aware of the new open data movement, the subtle shifts in FOI and to help with skills in manipulating large data sets.  A lot more could be done with simple data that can be used in a spreadsheet without having to do big data manipulations – the spreadsheet skills are in far greater supply.  Tim Davies talked about his idea for a ‘open data cookbook’ to help people use data for real world campaigning.  I suggested that we need for instance a list of bits of data people could use to save their local library.  Kate Sahota has blogged about the blinding obviousness of this.

Some great links were shared on data in the voluntary sector, a site to help people find data, a site on data for neighbourhood renewal, my own use of data to help get a street light fixed.

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William Perrin

Founder of Talk About Local, Trustee of the Indigo Trust, member of UK Government transparency panels, former Policy Advisor to UK Prime Minister, former Cabinet Office senior civil servant.Open data do-er, Kings Cross London blogger. Loves countryside. Two kids, not enough sleep.
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