Rewiring Local Democracy

Here at ODI Devon there are some things we like a lot. We like data, obviously; we like openness; and we like useful things. So finding out what useful things we can do with open data to support democracy is probably just about our favourite thing ever. This is why we’ll be supporting NotWestminster on the 12th and 13th of February in Huddersfield.

80 people took part in the first event last year, sharing ideas through workshops and lightning talks and helping to refine a set of design challenges for local democracy. The idea is to make democracy more like rock and roll; if it were simple, stripped back, does just what you expect it to do and reaches you in the way you need it to … what would that look like? Some of the challenges got taken forward even further at Local Gov Camp maker days, and we’re hoping to keep building on them until we have some concrete products that will do what we need them to do.

I had a bit of time to think about some of the ideas over the last couple of months, based on what I’ve been working on both for ODI Devon and for Devon County Council, and so I submitted some ideas for the upcoming event. The two that got selected are:

  • Democracy and Open Data workshop – using some recently developed tools to evolve practical scenarios for using data and getting the most out of it in a civic setting. We’ll be using the Data Loop and other design-with-data tools developed by Simon Gough to work around the cycle of data in / data out and see where the opportunities are to improve how we turn data into informed action.
  • Idlesourcing hack – arranging it so that the data we’d find most useful – as citizens or as policy makers –  just falls out of business-as-usual activities and can be gathered in a non-invasive way.  I’m particularly interested in how we do this so that everyone has a chance to be included in the feedback loop, but without it becoming a mass surveillance exercise.

We’d love to see you there, or if you can’t make it to the event feel free to drop us some feedback on what you think we could include in the sessions.

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