Unconference calls on local government participation to reshape digital services

24 Jul 2015, 2:50 pm

Registrations have opened for a digital innovation event ‘for and by local government’, which asks attendees to set the agenda.

PubHub developmentAnyone working for or with local government is invited to participate in the two-day LocalGovCamp, an unconference which aims to “bring together some of the key thinking in local government, and enable learning and collaboration with peers, third sector participants and suppliers” according to the organisers.

Unconferences encourage the informal exchange of ideas and opinions, allowing each participant to bring experience and views to the sessions.

Unlike a traditional conference, participants shape the agenda on the day and there is no entrance fee.

The event is aimed at anyone “involved in digital or not” who “cares about public services”, according to Eddie Coates-Madden, Head of Communications at Sheffield City Council and member of LocalGov Digital, which is organising the event.

LocalGov Digital is a national network of volunteers whose members mainly work for councils or support public sector transformation

“It’s a participant-led event where the agenda is crowdsourced on the day,” said Coates-Madden. “Delegates will then gather around the topics suggested in informal sessions intended to encourage conversation and collaborative working. That focus, the concentration of some of the most progressive thinkers in the sector and a specially-tailored set of sponsors makes it unique”.

While full details of the event have not yet been revealed, last year’s event saw more than 28 sessions available for attendees to choose from, including agile working in local government, practical user experience techniques, open data, collaborative working across sectors and a range of sessions on council websites.

The organisers “very much hope” that concrete products and services will be produced as a result of the event, specifically “through the collaboration of people, new ideas and innovation, shared lessons and the relationships that can be built with sponsors,” said Coates-Madden.

Work on one challenge at last year’s event, for example, led to the Local Waste Service Standard Project currently under development by Local Digital and several local authorities (read our coverage).

Much of the detail is yet to be confirmed, but LocalGov Digital could confirm sessions on:

  • developing LocalGov Digital’s work on improving local public services;
  • a ‘future leaders’ event;
  • lessons learned from the Not in Westminster project;
  • developing the user needs discovered by Democracy Club from their work during the general election;
  • informal networking opportunities on both evenings.

The event is open to a range of roles, “whether it’s part of your job description to create and deliver digital services, you’re working to transform the way things are done in a service area, you’re a senior leader or an elected member,” said Coates-Madden.

This year, the organisers are expecting 150 attendees each day. “Your voice and experience is what makes LocalGovCamp so important and useful, but we can’t work in isolation so community, third sector, activists and citizens are also welcome,” said Coates-Madden.

LocalGovCamp takes place at The HUBs, Sheffield on 11-12 September 2015. Further details of the annual event, which first took place in 2009, will be announced on the LocalGov Digital website or you can follow @localgovcamp on Twitter. Tickets will be made available in August.