Virtual Town Hall Pilot

{UPDATE:  January 2012}

I’ve been meaning to update this page for ages as the pilots were completed some time ago and the chapter is now in the thesis ready for final editing.  In summary the Virtual Town Hall Pilot turned out to be a starting point for much further exploration and hinged on a few key findings:

1) Democratic debate needs to be supported by wider civic conversation that is not going to happen on a government platform.  This really informed the work that turned in the Social Media Audits which are a systematic way of finding these civic conversations.

2) The community ambassadors idea is interesting but needs developing in a far more sophisticated way – which I hope we are doing in the We Live Here project.

3) There are some core skills and permissions that are needed within the democratic infrastructure if you are going to use more co-productive engagement approaches and these need to be explored at the start of the process.

4) We probably put the technology in the field too early and this effected levels of confidence – this is particularly clear if you look at the difference in what we were working with 18 months ago compared with the current platform.

Were the pilots a success?  Well none of them ‘took off’ and none of them have established a life outside of the pilot period so by that measure they were a failure.  However overall the learning was huge – and has directly shaped a number of other projects.  By that measure they were a success!  Once the thesis is out of the way then I will publish a more formal write up and people can perhaps judge for themselves.  In the meantime please contact me if you have questions.


There is a lot of talk here about my Virtual Town Hall pilot which I thought should be explained!  The pilot project is part product development and part PHD research.  Hopefully with the two things complementing each other!

At Public-i we are in the process of launching a new engagement platform called Citizenscape.  This has a number of aims but it basically supports these principles:

  • Its designed to incorporate and respond to the next online fad and the one after that.
  • It’s a co-created space.
  • Its moderated and managed – by all of the stakeholders.
  • Content is accountable and transparent.

You can read more about  these ideas here.  Or look at the page on the Public-i site.

The initial plan was a January 2009 launch with a 12 month pilot.  As I explain here things are not going according to this original timeline but we are moving forward and should have some early information later this year.

We are also using #virtualTH on twitter