Monday, 9 February 2015

We're not in 2012 any more

This is a post about two events, both last week. The first the LocalGov Digital Steering Group meet on 6th February, and the second Local Democracy for Everyone: We're Not in Westminster Any More on the 7th, both in Huddersfield

Perhaps they warrant two individual write ups, but as the two are inextricably linked, both because LocalGov Digital was a sponsor of the latter and with the LocalGov Digital Steering Group's Carl Whistlecraft and Dave McKenna being involved in its organisation, I've decided to write about the two together.

A four an a half hour journey gave me a chance to play with Google+ Locations, and watching Carl Haggerty and Lucy Knight race me across the country, in a sort of virtual It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World gave me a few ideas, but that's for another post.

The trip from Manchester to Huddersfield, over the beautiful snow peaked Pennines also remind me that life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. To adapt this to the 21st Century, remember put your smartphone down and look out the window once in a while.

Anyway, that's enough film references, back to the events of last week.

Sarah Lay already wrote about how LocalGov Digital came about, and I'm excited that a group which first came together in October 2012 and still remains as what some have referred to as "a network of enthusiastic volunteers" is now sponsoring and helping to organise groundbreaking events.

This is where Not in Westminster comes in.

From civic leaders to collaborative coders an amazing mix of people attended, all keen to improve local democracy, giving up their own time. The day was split into lightening talks and workshops, with the latter required to output at least three ideas. This is great as it helps to turn thinking into doing; more on that later.

Whilst some have been moaning that someone should create a LocalGDS, with others issuing best practice guidance and publishing strategy reports, LocalGov Digital been getting on with it by thinking, doing and sharing and Not in Westminster really exemplifies this ethos.

But where now for the network in 2015?

Planning for LocalGovCamp is already underway and they'll be an announcement in the next few weeks. LocalGov Digital certainly didn't start LocalGovCamp, in fact it was more the other way around, but we'll be organising it again this year.

They'll also be another Makers Meet, following up from the success of last September where Pipeline was born. It'll still focus on digital design and development but cast the net wider to bring the tribes together,  taking some of the ideas from Not in Westminster and our other workstreams, to combine them into one event.

You'll also see some of the things we've been discussing or working on move to the next stage this year, be they platforms, standards or something more radical like un-mentoring.

Three years ago LocalGov Digital was a disparate group of like minded individuals with a passion for improving public services. Last weekend shows, we're not in 2012 any more.
This blog is written by Phil Rumens, Vice-Chair of LocalGov Digital, lead for LGMakers and who manages the digital services team at a local authority in England.

The opinions expressed in this weblog are my own personal views and in no way represent any organisation I may have worked for, currently work for, might be thinking of working for, might not be thinking of working for or have never worked for. In fact having said that they, might not even be my views any more as I might have changed my mind so I wouldn't take any of it too seriously.