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sxs:social-media-for-public-25-11-2009 [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +# Social media for public services: how about an Open Innovation Exchange
 +November 25, 2009
 +I posted this first [at](http://​​p=690). If you think it’s
 +a good idea (or not), please add a comment.
 +The [Crowdsourced
 +event earlier this week was for me interesting at three levels. First
 +for the idea expressed in the name - that councils should use a variety
 +of different methods to find out people’s opinions, engage with them,
 +and improve performance in doing so. Secondly, for a useful
 +demonstrations of tools showing how this might be done. And thirdly some
 +insights into just how difficult it is to introduce these innovative new
 +methods to councils, even when costs are low.
 +I came away with a new/old idea: that we need an open innovation
 +exchange to help entrepreneurs,​ councils and customer/​citizens
 +collaborate to find new ways forward.
 +The event was organised by
 +[FutureGov](http://​​) in partnership with
 +[Capital Ambition](http://​​capitalambition/​default.htm),​
 +and we had demonstrations from [Uservoice](http://​​),​ [Best
 +Before Media](http://​​),​ [Yoosk](http://​​),​
 +[GovDelivery](http://​​) and [Quiet
 +Riots](http://​​). Follow the links to see the goodies
 +on offer. They provide a terrific range of ways in which people could
 +discuss issues, vote on their preferences,​ create audio and video
 +content, get updates and more.
 +In the four video interviews Dominic Campbell, of FutureGov, explains
 +the thinking behind the event, and we hear from Tim Hood of
 +[Yoosk](http://​​),​ Dave Worsell of
 +[GovDelivery](http://​​),​ and also Shane McCracken of
 +Gallomar. They just been award £200,000 from the Wellcome Trust for I’m
 +A Scientist, Get me out of Here - [explained
 +(You’ll see the four videos in the frame once you start playing, or
 +As well as the cleverness of the tools in front of us, what really
 +intruiged me was the background story I heard from those developing
 +them: they were often prepared to make some of their offer free; they
 +would collaborate to see how they could offer councils a menu of options
 +and ways of making things work together; some were taking big personal
 +risks to develop something of real social benefit. Yet whether big or
 +small they found it difficult to get their products and services in
 +front of the people who could make decisions, or find ways to test and
 +evolve new tools with both citizens and councils.
 +A number of barriers emerged. The big one was procurement procedures,
 +which could meant that if you weren’t on the approved list of suppliers
 +you didn’t get a look in. In theory councils would specify what they
 +needed, and then go out to tender: but that doesn’t work well for
 +innovative products. As one developer said: “If you don’t know what you
 +want, because you haven’t seen it yet, how can you specify it?”
 +Another problem was that decisions usually involved a lot of people in
 +the organisational hierarchy, and often in partner organisations. You
 +couldn’t get them in the same room together. They didn’t even go to the
 +same conferences:​ “The senior people will be at the old-style big ticket
 +events, while those lower in the hierarchy who may know what’s needed
 +are at the informal barcamps and unconferences.”
 +You might find one council officer prepared to take an interest, but
 +they would change jobs. If you didn’t get everything lined up at the
 +right time of year, you could lose six months because of holidays and
 +other delays.
 +All this might be of little concern if it were just a bunch of
 +profit-hungry corporations trying to sell products that councils could
 +better develop in-house - or that tough competition would ensure a
 +better deal for us all. A few years ago it was perhaps the case that
 +councils had to specify major development work through big suppliers.
 +But these days there’s a vast array of social media tools - like those
 +on show - that can be delpoyed rapidly, and at relatively low cost,
 +provided councils can make fast and informed decisions. That means
 +really getting to know what’s available and working collaboratively with
 +suppliers and citizen-users.
 +Tim Hood summed it up: “People think private companies are just
 +concerned with profit. That’s clearly not true. People risk their
 +livelihoods to try and innovate for public good, and there’s no shame in
 +trying to make some money out of it. There no shame in the decision
 +makers and people in procurement being in the same room and talking
 +through collectively how they can make the whole process work more
 +But that often isn’t happening. I heard that it can be just as tough for
 +council officers. Unless you are passionate about social media it’s
 +really difficult to see what’s available, and get your ideas adopted. Of
 +course there are brilliant exceptions … officers and whole council
 +departments around the country who are doing great work: Devon, Kent,
 +Barnet, Barnsley keep getting mentions, and there are quite a others [as
 +I explored at another conference](http://​​p=663)
 +about knowledge management. It just doesn’t seem sensible to have such
 +clunky systems when it’s desperately important to improve public
 +services and reduce costs at the same time.
 +Is this a fair analysis? Or did I just happen on a group of people -
 +developers and officers - who, by their interests and enthusiasms,​ find
 +the current system particularly frustrating and unproductive?​
 +Let’s say the analysis is right at least in part. What might be done in
 +a small, collaborative,​ organic, social media-ish sort of way? I’m
 +really impressed by the work that Ingrid Koehler, Steve Dale and others
 +are doing on the IDeA knowledge hub, which [I’ve written about
 +here](http://​​tag=khub). In the longer term the new
 +system and associated development and training should help move all
 +councils, not just a few, across into new ways of working.
 +But that’s going to take years. Meanwhile Amy Sample Ward and I have
 +been talking to IDeA about ways in which we could use the [Social by
 +Social network](http://​ as a space in which to pilot
 +some ideas. There’s already [some groups
 +there](http://​​groups). Out initial thinking was on
 +three fronts: how to combine discussion and knowledge sharing, with a
 +market place, linked to events. The aim would be to bring together
 +people working in public bodies with social media developers and
 +suppliers, and with those working in the hyperlocal programmes and third
 +sector. And anyone else interested in how to use social tech for social
 +impact … the substance of our book Social by Social (buy or download
 +free [here](http://​
 +During the Crowdsourced Council event these ideas crystalised into
 +thoughts of an Open Innovation Exchange. It’s not new: Simon Berry, I
 +and others first proposed something like this back in 2007 for third
 +sector organisations,​ in an open bid to Cabinet Office. We didn’t win,
 +but generated a lot of interest as you can see [on the original site
 +here](http://​​). My friends - and clients - at
 +the [Innovation Exchange](http://​​) are now doing
 +a great job in taking forward the winning bid, but it’s focussed on
 +third sector organisations,​ and social media is only a part of their
 +In essence we would create a complementary space into which anyone could
 +pitch an idea, request, product or service … whether free or paid for.
 +It would be up to IDeA and other public sector organisations - if
 +interested - to promote the exchange to their sectors and interest
 +groups. Similarly for the hyperlocal and third sector interests. We
 +would run some associated workshops and turn up to events like
 +Crowdsourced Council to do some social reporting, broker connections,​
 +and recruit people to the exchange.
 +When I floated the idea to a few developers at this week’s event they
 +sounded seriously interested, and even said they might contribute some
 +seed funding if public sector interests would come in.
 +That’s as a far as I’ve got with the idea. At this stage I just want to
 +check out if it makes sense. If so, I’ll discuss further with our
 +friends in IDeA, NESTA and other bodies. If they are interested I would
 +suggest that we run an open workshop in January to co-design what’s
 +needed, with the key interests. Let’s model the collaborative exchange
 +process we propose. At this stage I’m not suggesting that the current
 +Social by Social platform would do what’s needed … but it could be a
 +gathering space for those interested.
 +What do you think? Do drop a comment here, and I’ll also post across on
sxs/social-media-for-public-25-11-2009.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)