Sunday, 20 September 2015

More than the sum of its parts

This the third in what's turned into a series of posts. In the first I discussed what I'd learnt from helping build Pipeline, a website to facilitate council collaboration. The second was about what I was going to pitch at LocalGovCamp and this, the third about is what's happened since then.

I'm really grateful to everyone who came to my session at LocalGovCamp and you can read about what happened at it here. I was also inspired by what happened at our Local Democracy Maker Day and the innovative way people went about solving the challenges.

I called it a Makers Day rather than a Hack Day because some people people think computer programming when they hear the word "hack" and this might put them off, because it's really not about tech, in fact some of the excellent outputs from Local Democracy Maker Day were made using post-its and flipcharts.

So the conclusion I've come to was arrived at from the journey of thought I've been on around how to move Pipeline forward, talking to people at both events and elsewhere, which is all aligned with my overall view that LocalGov Digital Makers should be facilitating the creation of tangible things, or to quote the witty and ever down to earth Carl Whistlecraft, "Getting stuff done".

In my first post on Pipeline you may have read that whilst there could be some technical improvements, I think the main hurdle is it really needs a community manager to facilitate collaboration between councils.

I think I now may have a way create this role, and in a nutshell the solution could be this:

Regularly held makers days could fund a community manager role, but more than that, Pipeline could be used to source the challenges at the maker days thus providing the incentive of free research and development for councils if they add and keep their projects up to date on Pipeline.

Maker Days could be funded by sponsorship from the private sector, so they're not directly funding Piepeline; there's also a lot in it for them too. This is low-cost contact with councils helping the private sector improve things they might incorporate into their products.

This solution would create a symbiotic relationship between Pipeline and Maker Days, and their union would become more than the sum of its parts.

There could also be other benefits.

If you put a bunch of suppliers and civic and council makers in a room to work on a particular challenge, that's when common standards to support Local Government as a Platform might emerge. The cost of sponsorship could be set low to allow SMEs to attend, so they get the same benefit from the day as a large company. I'm thinking as I'm typing here though, and there might be good reasons why either of these won't work.

I'm really keen to get people's views on whether this idea might work, so do leave a comment below, or get in touch @philrumens on Twitter.
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.