1. WhatDoTheyKnow, Parliament and copyright

    The Register has an article today Parliament’s take on Freedom of Information which describes an FOI request I made using WhatDoTheyKnow, and the House of Commons’ refusal to respond to it because the response would be automatically republished.

    Hopefully the House will choose to waive copyright on the document, and send it soon – I still haven’t seen a good reason why they could or should not.

    (Also, I haven’t changed my name to Francis Stirling, hopefully The Register will correct it soon!)

  2. “Politicians are using the internet to harness your bright ideas”

    “People often say they could run Britain better than the political parties. A web-based revolution may give them the chance”

    Nice article in the Sunday Times today mentioning lots of our sites and others.

  3. eWell-Being Award

    Last week at the SustainIT eWell-Being Awards, we picked up an award for FixMyStreet. The judges said it was “[a]n excellent example of an independent website which empowers the general public in their dealings with their local council. It is a relatively simple application, yet highly effective and replicable.” One example the accompanying Independent supplement mentioned was “a community in Great Yarmouth which joined forces through FixMyStreet to clear their local unused railway track. The site made possible a dialogue between community members and the council’s community development worker, who organised a “clear up” day where locals could get involved with rectifying the situation, with tools, insurance and even a barbeque provided.” It’s great to see that sort of thing happening on the site, and also great to be recognised in this way.

    In a spirit of celebration (though more to celebrate the endorsements the campaign has received), TheyWorkForYou now covers the Scottish Parliament – see the TheyWorkForYou news for more information.

  4. FixMyStreet’s reports being public really helps

    Residents turn to web in lane fight describes a set of problems reported on FixMyStreet.

    A NARROW mountain lane has been damaged and turned into an “international playground” for 4x4s and satnav-guided lorries, angry villagers claimed yesterday.

    The interesting thing is the claim that making the reports public really helped pressurise the authority into fixing them

    one [resident] claimed the local authority had now been “embarrassed” into action by the complaints on fixmystreet.com

  5. Read all about them

    I’ve just come back from a hectic week away – visiting friends and working while there. It’s good teleworking, I worked in a welsh valley on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday staying at my friend Ben’s house.

    Ben has been working for the Media Standards Trust, on their fab new site Journalisted. It’s a kind of a TheyWorkForYou-style site, but which gathers info and stats about journalists (as opposed to MPs). I’ve added links to it from TheyWorkForYou, so if you browse to an MP page who is also a journalist you can easily look up what they wrote.

    Hopefully this will put some much needed scrutiny on journalists – rewarding the good ones, who are both allowed the time to properly research stories, and are energetic enough to do so. Now, what will be the next Great British Institution to have some sunlight on it…

    Ben and I whizzed to London on the train to catch Steve Coast’s talk last night. He was as usual, excellent. We also had some great questions – it was interesting to hear a detailed account of the financial side of Open Street Map. Afterwards we had Italian food and beer. mySociety’s next disruptive tech talk is at the end of November. It’s by Jason Kitcat of the Open Rights Group talking about electronic voting.

    I’m glad to be back home after a week away.

  6. Another day, another podcast

    Hello, all. Just wanted to let you know about another podcast interview I did about PledgeBank…this time on the 501c3Cast. This podcast is geared toward folks in the nonprofit/philanthropic world (the tax code classification for many nonprofits in the U.S. is “501(c)3”) to spread the word about new tools, ideas, and conversations in the sector. You can find the podcast here (though, be forewarned, it’s a bit long…).

  7. New Media Awards 2007

    Last night was the annual New Statesman New Media Awards, held in Westminster Abbey’s College Gardens. mySociety were finalists in two categories, Modernising Government and Contribution to Civic Society, with both Number 10 petitions and FixMyStreet nominated in both. Also, two other projects we host, PlanningAlerts and The Government Says, were both finalists in the Information & Openness category.

    It was a lovely evening, seeing some people I haven’t seen for some time and meeting new people too. We ended up winning in both our categories – the Number 10 petitions site in Modernising Government, and FixMyStreet in Contribution to Civic Society, which is obviously fantastic for everyone involved. The judges were impressed at the open source nature of the petitions site, and the “deceptive simplicity” of FixMyStreet. This is now the third year in a row we’ve won the Civic Society award – TheyWorkForYou won in 2005, and WriteToThem in 2006, so we’re obviously doing something right. 🙂

    It’s a shame that Chris could not be with us, but his mother did attend to see the projects he worked on recognised.

    Thanks and congratulations to all the other winners and finalists.

  8. Sending PledgeBank into the podcast ether

    The “um’s” and “uh’s” on the interview are embarrassing, to say the least, but PledgeBank just got its first podcast coverage. Check out my NetSquared interview here. I’m hoping this gets us a bit of exposure in the U.S.

    And I’ll do better next time with all the incidental sounds… 🙂

  9. Trying this out…

    Hello, all…this is Heather, PledgeBank evangelist in the U.S. Francis just hooked me up with the ability to post the the developers’ blog, so I thought I’d give it a whirl…

    We’re starting to get a little momentum around PB…I sent out emails this week to folks working at state networks of volunteer centers across the country and have gotten quite a few responses. This isn’t huge press or anything, but it’s good to know that folks who work at volunteer centers full-time think there’s enough value to the site on first glance that they’ll give me a chance to chat with them. I’ll keep you updated on how those phone calls and meetings go, and might be asking for some more specific tech details behind the site as questions arise.

    It might also be of interest to folks that I’m headed this afternoon to Georgia for a retreat with about 25 of the most prominent bloggers in the country and a handful of progressive funders…all talking about the state of and future of the blogosphere. You can see more about the meeting at http://neworganizing.com. I helped do a lot of the logistics for the retreat, and am looking forward to meeting some of these mysterious folks this weekend!

  10. Neighbourhood Fix-It launches

    Neighbourhood Fix-It makes it as easy as possible for citizens across the UKBritain to report local problems like fly tipping, broken lights, graffiti etc, whilst opening the problems up to browsing and public discussion of solutions.

    The problem tackled

    Councils across the UK do an excellent job of fixing local problems when they’re reported by citizens. However, the model for handling the information is a system of doctor-patient style confidentiality. A citizen who makes a report normally knows about a problem, and so does the council, but there is no general public way of finding out what has been reported or fixed.

    Given that the nature of public problems being reported is that they are public, this seems a strange situation.

    Neighbourhood Fix-It opens up and democratises the process of discovering and reporting problems, so people can see what other reports have been filed locally using the site, and can leave extra feedback and comments on the problems if they see fit.

    Early successes

    In quiet beta test for a few weeks prior to launch, several hundred problems have already been reported across the UK. Fixes by councils so far include:

    • Fixed paving slabs
    • Redundant estate agent signs removed
    • Filled pot holes
    • Removed graffiti

    Funding and Partnership

    The project was funded with £10,000 of support from the Department of Constitutional Affairs Innovations Fund, and is a partnership with the Young Foundation’s Transforming Neighbourhoods Programme, a consortium of 15 local authorities, government departments and community organisations working together on practical ways to give more powers to neighbourhoods.

    Tom’s quote from the press release: “Neighbourhood Fix-It aims to change the act of reporting faults – turning it from a private one-to-one process into a public experience where residents can see if anyone else in the neighbourhood has already spotted and reported a problem, and to see how their council is acting on it. We hope the website will make the process of reporting faults more efficient, possibly reducing the number of individual reports that councils receive because people will be able to see that their neighbours have already made the call.”