Bottom Up Responsive Government

FROM: Jamal Shahin

What NEED does this meet?
"Understanding what cyberspace actually means for politicians, citizens and civil servants".

Cyberspace is big, borderles and bound to confuse the local civil servant. At the same time, e-government works best at the local level. How do you get around this? Big companies can come along and charge lots for developing CRM systems based on SAP drivebys with gigawatts of energy, oozing with bytes and DRAM and you name it. But that still doesn't help anyone work out what cyberspace is and what people are doing there.

What is the APPROACH?
In two words: Bottom Up.

But not driven by the bottom up. Most e-government projects/ ideas/ innovations are all about giving something from the 'top' to the citizen. The ultimate step in the ideology of consumer politics. (Check out 'The Silent Takeover' if you haven't already.) This one is about local governments actually getting involved in citizen's lives via the public space that is the Internet. The TOOLBOX would be a little website/ application, designed as a dynamic portal to the local government's jurisdiction. It would carry out searches using specific search engines for issues and topics that have either been raised in forums where local citizens actually discuss things (and not on some forums that have been set up by local governments that noone ever visits), or where local issues are being discussed. These discussions might happen wherever! That's the beauty of cyberspace; there are no boundaries to content

What are the BENEFITS to people?
To be honest, Stan, it is a bit like a dialogue: two people talk to each other online in a forum. This gets recorded (in a public space). They complained about the fact that they thought that the litter in the local park should be collected in the morngings and not in the evenings. Well, maybe, (because of the hassle it is to write a letter and set up a campaign by lobby etc., and frankly, noone really wants to get that involved with local (or even national) politicians that much , so they decide to leave it. Then they distrust the 'system' even more, because they still watch the litter being collected at 19h, when noone uses the park. And nothing gets done. That's where this toolbox might help. Dunno though. might be something to think about a bit more.

What is the COMPETITION?
I haven't heard of any, apart from generic ones like google, which might offer part of what we were after.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
One coder, but more importantly (perhaps) someone to go and talk to local government officials to see what it is that they would like/ need/ could use etc.

November 19, 2003 in Perhaps Government Remit? | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Mother and Toddlers Information XChange

FROM: Paul Chapman

What NEED does this meet?
Actually this one came from my sister who as a mother of 5 and a teacher has some experience of this.

Basically this would be a kind of Mother's Information Exchange. Now when ever Mothers meet and the various offline groups they are invariable talking about problems with their children.

It would also provide a portal for more official information to mothers regarding there children such as the current controversy over combined immunisations such as MMR.

There also should be a facility for off-line groups to give the place and time of meeting.


What is the APPROACH?
The site essentially will be a forum combined with a news element.

The forum would need some form of database backend but the news site can be done with XML

What are the BENEFITS to people?
There's no second chance with being a parent. You have to get it right first time, so any help would be useful and sometime children choose the most awkward time to have some problems. So being able to pop on the web and check what others have done can be a help.

What is the COMPETITION?
A lot of Groups have their own websites but a search of Google with 'Mother and Toddlers' esssentially gives details of the groups but very little actual information exchange.

There is http://www.parentsplace.com but again this is one way, anyway it is American.

http://forums.parenthood.com is probably the nearest thing I've found. However again this is American and therefore information with a UK slant is not available.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
This is not a complicated site and none of the technology is complex. It should be possible to reduce the costs of running it by selling advertising.

A database would be needed and licenses for SQL Server are not cheap. (£2,500 per annum IIRC) It does not need the complexity of .Net as there is no need for web services so the whole thing can be implemented with SQL Server, XML, VBScript and Javascript and ASP

November 6, 2003 in Children, Connecting People, Perhaps Government Remit? | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

How much will my pension be?

FROM: Dr R.J.Appleton

What NEED does this meet?
People with personal (defined contribution) pensions who want to find out how much to save to achieve a level of income.

What is the APPROACH?

Approach is to get state pension amounts (from Dept of Work & Pensions site - very hard to find figures for state pension amounts) and average annuity rates from FSA tables (www.fsa.gov.uk) for projected pension pot and calculate

What are the BENEFITS to people?
It is hard to get a siomple answer to 'how much can I expect to get when I retire?' if you have a defined contribution pension plan. Projections by pension providers talk about how big a 'pot' one will ahve at 55, 60 or 65 but do not relate that to monthly or annual income (as that requires annuity rates).

Although one cannot forecast with accuracy tying up a pension pot with annuity rates (with various other bits of data such as spouse's pension, retirment ages ofn 55,60,65, income level or linked to RPI, etc) will give a lot more idea to people about what they can expect to retire on. This will help with decisions regarding levels of contribution. (Current annuity rates are low, so currently this approach is likely to underestimate the pension income).

What is the COMPETITION?
Don't know of any place to get this as a consolidated view across state and annuity providers.


What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Failrly simple, although an annual update may be required to state pension figures as DofW&P only keep these in a PDF file (making it hard to prase automatically).

I have manually obtained average annuity rates from FSA by repeatedly filling in their query form, and averaging out the projected monthly pension amounts in the response table.

November 3, 2003 in Empowering Consumers, Perhaps Government Remit?, Use of Statistics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Local Budget Transparency

FROM: Leigh Hall

What NEED does this meet?
No one likes tax, but if people could see clearly how their tax money was being spent then they could at least accept it. I am not talking "In: £xxx, Out: £xxx, jobs a good 'un", I'm talking a comprehensive, detailed and transparent breakdown of ALL local income and outgoings. A breakdown of central funding received, a breakdown of council tax income, by area and by band and a detailed list of where it is being spent. At each level the cost should be justified, and this could even provide opportunity to make local project documentation available, and possibly (long shot) could open up public projects to having contracts tendered to lowest bidders.

What is the APPROACH?
This information must be available already, so it would be a case of seeking approval for publication, and then the transferral of the ledgers into a database. Then a user friendly interface could be constructed, the results can be added to a website.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
As I said before, no one likes tax, but if they could see how their money was being spent, and could see that it was being spent wisely, they would be able to live with it.

Additionally, providing an electronic framework for this data might eliminate the need for the existing paperwork that is undoubtedly undertaken.

What is the COMPETITION?
I am sure that at some level there will be a vested interest in preventing this from happening, but unless a valid argument can be presented, I do not see why this could not happen.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
The ledgers must already exist, so there would be no extra resource needed to get this information. For the duration of the project, a skilled database programmer would need to work with the ledgers to transfer them into an electronic format. From here, the data could be made directly available. Once the project is live, it would need to be updated throughout the year, but this cost could be saved from possibly moving the ledger into an electronic format, and removing the manual work.

November 3, 2003 in Money, Perhaps Government Remit?, Political | Permalink | Comments (4)

Abandoned car notification

FROM: Andy Sutton

What NEED does this meet?
This would beneift people who have had their cars stolen, people who have abandonded cars lurking near them that eventually get smashed and burned, and the hard working police

What is the APPROACH?
This is an idea I had ages ago, that there should be a website where people who notice what appear to be abandoned cars log the reg number somewhere, then people who have had their car stolen can look and then find out where there car is. Studys show that abandoned cars don't get vandalised straight away, but the police don't have the resources to retrieve cars or even notify owners where they are, so cars lurk until they are vandalised and often burned. The insurance value is never as much as the car is worth to the owner, so we just need some speedy way to macth cars with owners. The location of cars would not be public - the owner would have to be validated somehow before they were told where the car is.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
People get their car back, not the insurance value - fewer burned out cars in residential and other areas - police freed up to d other things

What is the COMPETITION?
I have no idea. I'm not trying to champion this. If there is a better way then that should be done. I don't feel remotely competetive about this. If it's useful it is worth doing.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
It needs server space and programming. Maybe I could do that myself though I'm no pro. It needs publicising to make it work - it will be useful only if it is widely used. I guess it will need some kind of police approval, and mechanisms for validating owners could be difficult if done through official mechanisms, or it could just be a question of giving some identifying features.

November 3, 2003 in Matching System, Perhaps Government Remit?, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (8)

Blood Network

FROM: Nishad

What NEED does this meet?
Some years ago, the government of India banned professional blood donors from selling blood (There are people in India who live by selling their blood. The Government banned this practice as as a vast majority of donors were found to have deseases that could be transmitted through blood). Ever since, there's been a shortage of blood needed for emergencies and for patients undergoing surgeries.

What is the APPROACH?
If we could set up a database of blood donors who are willing to donate at short notice. (Donor's Name, Blood Group. Location, Contact Number, Date Last donated) If someone needs blood, the family can just log on to the network and find donors easily.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Currently people have to search a great deal to find donors in the right blood group. This adds to the trauma that a family is going through at a time of a medical emergency.

What is the COMPETITION?
There are people out here, in India, volunteers who have phone books full of numbers of donors. If these numbers could be collated on to an easily searchable database, things would become very simple.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
With pro bono help, I don't think it will be very difficult or expensive.

We will have to reach the network down to small towns and villages, where the shortages are even more of a problem. Here, we may need to provide computers and networking at hospital level so that people can access the database easily.

We will also need to set up a system where we can contact people and urge them to donate blood and get listed on the blood network. This is a "Brick and Motar" (If I can call it) operation, which could become phase three of project.

November 3, 2003 in Giving stuff away, Health, International, Matching System, Perhaps Government Remit?, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (2)

cycling road users feedback form

FROM: Jane DT

What NEED does this meet?
Cyclist frustrations of 'that's a really irritating pole in the middle of the cycle path' and 'that cycle path is useless without double yellow lines', 'that's a really scary stretch as a cyclist' are all unlikely to have most cyclists calling up the local council complaints.

Making it easy allows greater numbers of cyclists to comment, and in doing gives a better picture of the problem spots, and problem types. It also gives opportunity for constructive feedback and suggestions.

What is the APPROACH?
User says WHERE the problem is, and WHAT the problem/suggestion is.

The site however is only the data-collector: someone needs to want to see the data. Hopefully this would be the local authority responsible for the roads, and then they would act accordingly. Failing that the cycle campaigning groups. Or perhaps preferably: both.

Using intersections, or road and house numbers, combined with existing street map engines would enable the automatic collation of nearby complaints: this is an important function in making the data easily accessible to those who have to deal with it.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
As said above, many people might fill in a well-sign posted website and not call the council.

Hopefully: results in terms of the worst offending places dealt with, AND better knowledge and expertise in councils when they design future road use.

What is the COMPETITION?
If there are: they need better advertising.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Hopefully similar engines exist,and need only tweaking to fit.

November 2, 2003 in Perhaps Government Remit?, Transport, User Created Content | Permalink | Comments (1)

Community Texting

FROM: Chris Ewels

What NEED does this meet?
Many people are community minded but often just need reminders. This is a way to bring many of the other ideas under one roof, providing a generic way that charity and public service groups can let people know of relevant time based local information.

What is the APPROACH?
It's not very different but brings several things under one roof. The web interface would be simple (could even sign up via a mobile phone). Enter your postcode, optionally postcode of place of work, and your mobile number. You're then presented with a page of things you could opt into, which can be expanded in future. This could include: receiving texts from local council the night before recycling collected from your house, receiving a text from the blood donation service the day before they are collecting near to your home / work, possibly receiving text about local produce markets / door to door delivery when it's running, etc. Could optionally add the choice to receive the information via text message, email, both. Could reduce paperwork and thus costs for blood donation service as they wouldn't have to send out letters to those who'd signed into this.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Immediate relevant and timely information that's important for people at an extremely local level would be delivered directly to them. A system would be established which it would be easy for other organisations to 'opt into', so if other charitable/public spirited projects along these lines wanted to establish geographic based texting, the system would be already in place and it'd just be another click box. Users would remain in control since they'd only be texted about things they opted into.

What is the COMPETITION?
There's a few I suspect, the advantage of this is time saving in bringing it under one roof.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Should be pretty cheap, and I'm sure you could get some investment from the various public bodies that would benefit from this. Would need to interface with postcode recognition.

November 2, 2003 in Helping Your Community, Perhaps Government Remit?, SMS | Permalink | Comments (3)

Cross Referenced Hansard-HM Parliament Video Database

FROM: Tim Carpenter

What NEED does this meet?
Desire for people to quickly and simply see what has been said and discussed in Parliament without the pre-filtering of news organisations.

What is the APPROACH?
Hansard produces accurate records of every sitting in parliament and both houses and committees are captured on video. This video can be digitally archived. Hansard to be indexed and stored in a searchable form online for all to read.

Hansard shall add timestamps to their text. Thus, when a search pulls up a match in Hansard (e.g. all references to Crossrail or Haig), the time and date can be used to locate the video file and play the appropriate section.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
it will allow people to see debates, speeches and votes on demand and in a form they wish. The current mechanism of pre-digested video-bites on news programmes is open to abuse and often does not convey the full picture. People may want to observe the behaviour of an MP and see all their appearances and voting in the house when deciding how they wish to vote.

Such a mechanism could be extended to local authorities to bring transparency to all levels.

What is the COMPETITION?
HM Parliament and Hansard are dominant and no competition exists.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Storage of the information will be important. Hard drives are getting to £1 per GB, and a GB providing around 3 hours of 320x200 video means 3GB per house/committee per day.

200 days per year, Commons, Lords and two committee rooms means 2,400GB or under 2.5 terabytes per year. A RAID unit storing this costs £9000. Depending on usage the number of copies and front-end servers will increase.

The cost to Hansard should be incremental.

A video retrieval mechanism can be fairly simple as it only need seach for house, time and date as defined by the search results or by free entry.

November 1, 2003 in Perhaps Government Remit?, Political | Permalink | Comments (2)

recycling

FROM: Tenzin

What NEED does this meet?
An awful lot of perfectly useable stuff is thrown away by affluent householders (and others such as industry) that could be used by those who have little or no disposable income. Shop and office refurbishment throws away huge amounts of furniture, shelving, light fittings etc that are perfectly re-useable

What is the APPROACH?
It should be possible to set up an internet database that is searchable on a local, basis such as my village/suburb, within 5 miles of etc. which contains a list of good quality but re-useable, or recycleable materials that a disposer is going to throw away. A disposer could (for free) enter details of what they have, with an expiry date, whereby each item appears in the datatbase, and is available until that date, after which the householder will dispose of the item/s in a more normal manner. Those interested in acquiring the item/s could search the database, and with appropriate security measures contact the disposer via e-mail; to arrange a mutually convenient time to view/collect the item. In otherwords a sort of e-Bay, but without bids.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
Those on low income could benefit simply by having acces to such items as furniture, household goods etc, that otherwise they could not afford, also it may well be possible for individuals to set up their own small local companies based on re-using material that otherwise would have been thrown away. It could ease some of the burdens on local councils of the cost of disposing of at least some forms of household waste, and possibly even help some industries reduce the costs of waste disposal. It would also benefit the environment, simply by reducing waste.

What is the COMPETITION?
None as far as I know, though there are schemes in Holland and parts of Germany, which are I beleive operated by local councils, whereby unwanted but reasonable quality household gooods, and even surplus building materials, are colleceted up and available to be viewed and purchased at nominal prices (simply to cover the costs).

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
I haven't the faintest idea, as I have absolutely no skills in programming, and equally little idea on the costs of holding such a database on servers etc. though it need not (I would have thought) be overly expensive, as inputting items to the dtabase would be done by the disposer, and deletion of items would be either automatic (at the end of the exiry period) or by the collector of the item after collection. I simply throw the idea out in the hope that someone can pick it up and put it into operation.

November 1, 2003 in Connecting People, Environmental, Giving stuff away, Helping Your Community, Matching System, Perhaps Government Remit? | Permalink | Comments (2)