According to Ben Matthews, head of communications at Futuregov, local government is looking all around the globe for ideas for innovative new projects. Technology is being used everywhere to improve services, and here are a few examples of initiatives that Futuregov has found:
- France, Territories in Residence: La 27e Région, a French public innovation lab, looks at ways to help the public authorities engage with the general public. It organises ‘residences’ where small creative teams of people are left to work in different areas and provide feedback on their experience of local authority services. Stéphane Vincent and Romain Thévenet, directors of the projects said: “We co-design with the population, do friendly hacking of the administrative structure, prototype new services and report back to track the lessons learned.”
- Columbia, My Ideal City: My Ideal City is a platform that aims to improve the city of Bogotá. The project uses the My Ideal City site which allows people to discuss urban living and influence redevelopment plans that are passed along to city planners. One of the site’s founders, Piers Fawkes, said: “The key is citizen participation. Through the My Ideal City project, this basic yet revolutionary idea will make a huge difference to the average Bogotáno – and to people living in cities around the world. It will reinvigorate their sense of collective pride and spark them into action through participation.”
- Australia, Run That Town: The Run That Town app is a game which allows the user to take control of any neighbourhood in Australia. You can use real census data to make decisions and develop your story – essentially a SimCity using real data. Sue Taylor, director of the 2016 Australian census, said that the game uses data in a simple, visual and entertaining way.
- UK, Merton Ward Profiles: In the past, Merton ward profiles were 20-page documents summarising key facts, but now using a combination of Microsoft Powerpoint, Excel and infogr.am, the policy, strategy and partnerships officer at Merton Borough Council, Eshaan Akbar, has been able to give a simple overview of the 2011 Census. Akbar said: “Council officers and Members have welcomed the simplicity of having an easy snapshot of a ward on a single page. Following this project, there is real appetite for presenting complex information as simply and as engagingly as possible. The innovation lies in its simplicity, using existing software available to everyone and in being compatible with mobile devices.”