Tag Archives: Emma Daniel

UK Gov Camp 2 – imagining the council of 2030

26 Jan

There was a session at the conference I went to yesterday on what the future council might look like. The conversation whilst I was in the session described a change paralysis, funding crisis, and issues with councillors. There are many debates on local council funding and powers and in this post I am not going to touch on those. Not because I don’t have views on those matters but because they tend to get in the way of this conversation which is worth having in its own right.

However where I feel a good place to start on imagining the council of the future is understanding the expectations of 2030 citizens. I believe their expectations will be driven in part by the technological revolution of the social web. So I will focus on those features.

– content creators – I think citizens will expect to create their own answers to issues and be supported by the council. This develops the behaviour in social enterprise and the voluntary sector already there to an extent but which is being driven out or squashed by intense commissioning discussions. More peer to peer support networks, more pop up projects like riots clean up, coats for kids etc will emerge and the future council needs to support and create an environment where these flourish.

– feedback – the culture of trip advisor, eBay, “liking” etc will be important in any service delivery and democratic participation..I think this will drive decision making and conversations and enabling this instantaneous feedback rather than surveys etc will be the new normal.

– direct relationships – I think citizens will have a direct conversation with staff and councillors via digital tools and have a blurred on and offline relationship with them. This challenges the culture of the “invisible” officer working behind the scenes and I can see already an appetite to engage with local councillors.

– wearable and environmental tech – I think that all services will begin to use tech in people’s homes and on their persons to respond to needs or to prevent more expensive crisis prevention. I also think that tech might address environmental issues such as waste management massively, ideas like food waste disposal from sinks, perhaps waste as a asset to be used to 3d print are coming up and I am optimistic that we will have some action by 2030 which has addressed this problem. Already in social care – tech is important in maintaining people in their own homes rather than institutional care.

There is no doubt that like the industrial revolution, the digital revolution is changing our lives and expectations very fast. How do you think the council of 2030 will change to meet the expectations of its citizens by 2030?

UK gov camp 2014

25 Jan

This is just a quick reflections post on my day at this event. It was my first time at the event and I *really* wanted to go. My first two sessions we on increasing voting and getting more young people to vote. I found the sessions really fascinating although I was struck by the overwhelming message that both politics and politicians are the thing that is broken. Obviously, I wanted to know more, sadly the sessions were a little short and very popular to completely develop these conversations today.

Delving deeper, many felt that they should work more openly, more collaboratively, more digitally and in a more networked manner. Good news for the Networked Councillor project I am involved with for Public-I developed with EELGA.

Here are some of the ideas I heard today –

1. More independent councillors at local level – some felt party politics wasn’t relevant at a local level
2. Proportional representation – so all votes count rather than going for the least worst option or spoiling paper
3. That councillors should blog
4. That councillors should work along a community activist method.
5. That councils should work with schools to teach kids about local democracy

I would have liked to see some experimental ideas come out of the sessions and be sketched out that don’t require a constitutional change or “permission” from a statutory sector body to be trialled.

Also, I wonder what we can learn from methods like rock the vote, Speakers Corner projects, City Camps or any projects that have made an effort to increase voter registration and turnout from anywhere.

There wasn’t time to develop some prototype projects today but I look forward to this conversation continuing at UK Vote Camp later in the year.

I also took a UK gov camp selfie with Christine Townsend from Musterpoint because … Why not?

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iSulk or iUnderstand – how leaders respond to social media

9 Jan

I am a huge advocate for leaders networking with their employees, boards, citizens and their peers via social media channels. I am such a keen user, I have become the example of extreme user my colleagues use! (This is with fondness, I am sure). I first started using social media when I was a Member of Sussex Police Authority and had a lead member role for diversity and for Public Order. I was enthusiastic to hear first hand accounts of people’s experiences of policing in their own words, when they wanted to talk about it and without setting the agenda. This informal conversation was hugely useful to triangulate between official surveys, formal meetings with community leaders and official performance data. After all, it’s a well worn phrase but worth repeating: “We may hit the target but miss the point.” I was very pleased to see Sussex Officers grasp the opportunities of social media early on and engage with communities and criticism as well as praise.

So, when I saw the #TimeOnOurHands discussion following this verbal statement from Tom Winsor, I was really concerned:

Winsor quote - Time On Their Hands from Evening Standard 8 Jan 2014

You can see the original piece this is captured from on the Evening Standard 8.1.14 here. Immediately, there was a twitter fury from officers, some politicians, and ACPO at this statement which they felt undermined their efforts to engage and inform and relegated their efforts to time-wasting. Later Tom Winsor sent a statement to ACPO digital engagement lead, DCC Ian Hopkins clarifying this statement which is at apparent odds with HMIC policy:

Tom Winsor clarification

What Tom was referring to was the context online which existed when he was first appointed when there were many anonymous, federation and retired officers criticising his appointment, changes to police terms and conditions recommended in his report and other big changes to leadership and governance such as the new Police and Crime Commissioners. This context has changed but it appears to have remained current in Mr Winsor’s mind. In this, he is not unique.

I have spoken to many politicians who have used social media during campaigns only to abandon it afterwards. Having been in this position myself, I really understand why. Social media can be an unfriendly place when the context is people campaigning against you. I was really taken aback by the change in tone of interactions I had from people I had regular interactions before. I experienced the hideous unfairness of lies and character assassinations. I posted on how to deal with this atmosphere just after that campaign here – Sticks and Stones

However, once the campaign was over, so was that type of interaction. People who had been ‘shouting at me’ with rhetorical questions went back to interacting on a more conversational basis largely. Context shifts. If you are campaigning or bringing in a radical change this context will affect digital interactions and noise. When that change or campaign is done, the conversation moves on. It doesn’t make the people who participated in it, bad or people to avoid. That noise, triangulated with other evidence, in my case from the doorstep, the papers, activists etc has a useful place even if difficult to bear. A modern leader does have to understand that their context shifts online, as it does offline. Context affects tone. And, as Solihull Police Commander, Sally Bourner always says “feedback is a gift”.

Let me put you in the picture…

10 Dec

This is a very brief post reflecting on the images that myself and some of the Councillors I follow share via twitter. I was curious to see what the images we share say about us and our communities.

Here are my campaign photos taken and shared during the by-election:

HEG Campaign photos

Here are some recent photos which demonstrate my blurred identity – at a women’s football match, catching up on campaign news with a colleague in my kitchen, meeting a Special Constable …generally being a mum and in the spirit of the internet being a bit random:

Emma blurred identity

Here are some sets from other Councillors:

This is Councillor Ken from Solihull’s recent photos:

Cllr Ken Photos

I love that Ken shares pictures of his dog and his use of the local area. I think many people would enjoy these photos and it would help his desire to engage with people on subjects they care about.

Here are Councillor Ian Sherwood’s images from Conservative conference…which includes a photo of me and Cllr Alison Hernandez when we had a conversation about Networked Councillor with Ian and others:

Cllr Ian Sherwood

I think they give a good impression of what being at party conference is like and show that Ian is connecting and influencing as well as being influenced.

What do you think the images we share say about what we think, how approachable we are and how well we are representing our parties and electorate?

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Networked councillor – sticks and stones

15 Jul

I have been asked to blog about my experiences as a brand new candidate (and now, brand new Councillor) and finding a way to deal with cyber-attacks. My case was pretty extreme so I won’t dwell too heavily on it as it is atypical. However, discussing this issue at the LGA conference with Councillors from all parties gave me an insight into the common themes and some of the attitudes/ responses that Councillors have taken. This is an emerging area as more and more people use social media to directly contact candidates and Councillors. Probably the most interesting aspect is how not just the target but how the online community responds to the cyber-attacker.

What is a troll or a cyber-bully? Just being challenging is not a reason to label someone this way. People in public life have to be able to respond to challenge. But, it is acceptable to leave a query until the next day if you are tired, dealing with something else or you need to do some research to answer properly. It is always better to think before you answer. Try to answer the content rather than the tone it is expressed in.

Personal attacks, which are a matter of one person’s opinion, or malicious untruths, or intrusive behaviour are cyber-bullying. It is unpleasant. Most Councillors have experienced it to some extent if they are online. Some will say it goes with territory, they are right, but many of you aren’t career politicians groomed from childhood to expect it. Most Councillors, as is the whole point of local government, are ordinary people who want to improve things for their community and it can be quite a shock. Even experienced Councillors who first go online can be surprised at it and put down the social media tools as a result, but please don’t!!

Here are some questions to consider if you experience this behaviour:

  • Who is making the attack?
  • Are they anonymous?
  • Do they influence people’s thoughts and behaviour?
  • What networks do they belong to and how are their networks reacting to their behaviour?
  • Does it reflect it well on them?
  • Do people admire what they are saying and their approach?

All of these questions should tell you how seriously to take what they are doing. If they aren’t influential, if they are anonymous, if their network is not supporting their behaviour then simply block them. If you need help to find out how to ensure they can’t post on various social media platforms, someone in your council or a friend will be able to advise you. Unless you relish this type of thing (I don’t, but I know people who genuinely do enjoy ‘troll baiting’ so it’s up to you) just not reading it will prevent you having energy drained from you that you could more productively use to engage with people who actually do want a discussion.

  • If they are influencers, and you feel you do need to respond, in my opinion it is fine to call out bad or rude behaviour. You are not obliged to engage with people who are being rude or abusive and you are entitled to say so.
  • It can be helpful to have ‘rules of engagement’ stated somewhere, perhaps on your blog for example.
  • You don’t have to respond to every message, if you have answered a question – you don’t have to respond to the critique of the answer.
  • Sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing. Often the ‘crowd’ will tackle the behaviour for you if they believe someone is abusing the forum or you unfairly. Typically they will jump in, often with humour.
  • If someone within your network or party is behaving badly, consider how it reflects on you and whether or not you should act personally or corporately on the issue. Do you have any guidelines or mechanisms to deal with this?

Every digital Councillor will have a story to tell; talk to each other. There is no one way to respond, but hopefully some of these questions will help you think through how you deal with it.

Ultimately, it is unlikely to affect your campaign unless you allow your time and energy to be sapped engaging with it. In fact it can be measure of the fact others are anxious about how well your campaign is going.

In the conversations I have had with experienced Councillors from around the country and across parties, there is an agreement that women suffer worse abuse online than their male counterparts. There is a growing body of evidence for this sense, and it would be interesting to know why this is, and how to reduce it. Here is the experience of BBCQT Ghost Guest by Martin Belam. See also this article by Ray Filar in Liberal Conspiracy and here is a brilliant article from the Telegraph (20 May 2013) by Dr Brooke Magnanti on How to deal with twitter trolls

“thanks for the pain, you made me raise my game” – Jessie J ‘Who’s laughing now’