What I would have said at the ADSO Conference…

….if I hadn’t got stuck in Sussex owing to #uksnow

Firstly – apologies to anyone who was actually looking forward to me speaking – I always feel a bit of a whuss cancelling because of bad weather but it really was rather slippery out there…anyway here are the slides that I was going to use but you may find them a bit cryptic without the accompanying commentary so here are some thoughts:

I wanted to make a few different points the first being that if we value our democracy then we need to be putting the same amount of energy into redesigning it to be fit for purpose in a world which is digital, networked, open and agile as we do with every other part of Government. The second point is that while we all hope that politicians will take responsibility for making change happen (this is perhaps a different discussion) we know that the continuity and commitment to following any change through and really making it happen will fall to Officers and in this case it should fall to Democratic and Member Services.

At Councillor Camp last week one Member said that their challenge as elected representatives is evolve or die (I think in the way of the dinosaurs rather than literally) and Officers who are supporting the democratic process should in my view be taking the same position. With a growing democratic deficit we have to look at ways to reconnect Citizens to our democratic decision making – and we need to do it on a shoestring.

Digital technologies can help us do this but only if we actually change what we are doing and redesign the service to fit this new environment and a public who want a more direct and collaborative relationship with politicians and the process of decision making – not by simply adding digital as another job to do.

We have been working with Democratic and Members Services officers for a long time now (11 years!!) and when we started out it was a revolutionary thing to webcast a council meeting – so many of our clients were and are pioneers. However its probably no longer enough and we need to be offering the public the chance to interact with the content as well as simply viewing it.

This is a small example but there is a bigger strategic picture as well. I recently wrote some guidance on Digital Democracy for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners which really opened my mind with respect to the possibilities that are there if we remove the restrictions of our current systems which is in many cases rooted in the past. In the report you’ll see I have set out a different models of communicative, collaborative and co-productive politicians with examples but in all cases these involve making more extensive use of digital technology than is the norm in most Local Authorities.

So – with those comments in mind here is the presentation:

I expect that I would have been challenged on a great deal of this so please feel free to do so here!

Stay warm

  1. Southwell & Caunton (@SouthwellFocus)

    January 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    One fundamental issue that is not addressed here Catherine is the ‘opt in’ element of networks added to the ‘worldwide’ nature of it. As Local politician I want to respond to local concerns and issues, not national or even international ones. At the moment, I find it very hard to differentiate between them, unless I happen to ‘know’ who it is behind the user tag. With 600+ local email contacts who get my newsletter [compared with 5000+ through the letterbox on paper] I have far less ‘followers’ and I am are that quite a high percentage of these are not at all local to me in Southwell Nottinghamshire.

    Peter Harris

    • curiouscatherine

      January 21, 2013 at 8:37 am

      I think that’s sort of my point. Social media analytical are fairly sophisticated and could answer many of your questions but you are not yet getting any support as representatives to understand how relevant / representative the local conversation is.

      Lots of data out there for this (I outlined a bunch of it in my post of councillor camp if you are interested)

      Thank you for the comment!!


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