Sharing #dpulo data

Earlier on this week during the excellent #dpulo Twitter chat, there were lots of requests for Disabled People’s User-Led Organisation data.

I’m therefore pleased to say that below is embedded a public Google spreadsheet which contains the names, websites and locations of all DPULOs that the Strengthening DPULOs Programme is currently aware of.

A few points:

  • This is publicly available information. (In fact, this public spreadsheet is a version of a more substantial spreadsheet we have, which does (potentially) contain data that might not be publicly available.)
  • I would never claim this is a full list of DPULOs. As such, if you know of a DPULO that isn’t on the list, please (a) add it to the list (making it obvious you have!), and (b) tell me about the DPULO in the comments below or by emailing or tweeting me @rich_w
  • If you do anything interesting with this information, please let me know (using the details above)
  • I’ve created a map of DPULOs, which I can’t quite get to embed below. However, you can view the map here: Map of DPULOs
  • If you are so inclined, any help you can give with the income/expenditure columns of the spreadsheet (using the Charity Commission website or Open Charities) would be much appreciated
  • I am by no means an expert in all this fancy Google stuff. If anyone out there (a) is, (b) is mortally offended by the amateur-ish nature of my attempts above and below, and (c) fancies spending some time with me to help, then all assistance would be warmly received and appropriate praise lavished upon you.

The Google spreadsheet is here: Mapping Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations v2 – public. It is fully shared so you can edit and add to it as you see fit. The same spreadsheet is embedded below.

Have fun!


Social care and Foursquare

It’s around a week before the Local by Social event in the South West. I’m lucky enough to have been invited to talk on the topic of location-based social media and social care (thus the title of this post), and I said I’d share some of my emerging thoughts on what I’m planning to say. The thoughts below are therefore shared in the hope people will comment and offer their thoughts on the proposed argument so that I can steal incorporate them (attributed, of course!).

I’m planning the talk in 3 parts: the first is on why information is so important in social care (identify the problem); the second is on how location-based social media can contribute to the solution (identify the solution); the final is to outline why a 2.0 way of thinking in this area is needed (the “why”).

For the first section, I was planning to:

  • Give an outline of the scale and reach of social care
  • Provide a sense of how much time, effort and, more fundamentally, money, is spent on providing adequate information, advice and guidance (IAG) to potential or actual social care users (clue: a lot)
  • Outline the problems of providing IAG on both the demand side (ie for users) and the supply side (for commissioners and service providers)
  • Share a sense of the poor flows of information and the asymmetries between the demand- and supply-sides.

Having set out the context of the issue/problem in part one, part two would be the part where I show how location-based social media is part of the solution. (Any examples people have of good uses of location-based social media already in social care or any other field would be great.)

After the quick solution overview, the final part of the argument is in 3 parts, all broadly applying common 2.0 arguments/benefits to the topic in hand as to why this is a Good Thing to do/try, as follows:

(1) Shifting the power dynamics

  • People contribute to it rather than having it thrust upon them. Creating and sharing data and information in this way provides a sense of ownership for the people sharing/contributing it, rather than being passive recipients of the information presented to them
  • It is bottom-up, not top-down. Local government collating information is a very central, coordinating way of doing things and assumes everyone goes to the same place to get their information. They don’t, and that means there are big gaps in coverage and/or audience
  • It’s a two-way process, not one way. If someone has some information, it tends to get passed “up” to the LA and the individual no longer has control or ownership over it, which is a vertical transaction from the person up to the Council rather than a shared exchange as in the case of social media.

(2) Making the most of everyone’s expertise

  • The location-based social media approach uses local expertise and is therefore likely to pick up information that the “centre” might not. It makes everyone’s expertise more available
  • It is an open invitation for anyone to contribute their expertise based on their experiences. Information collection relating to social care can often be the preserve of providers and support services in the private and voluntary sectors to local councils; this approach supplants that
  • It’s geographically expert. Typically, centrist approaches mean by proxy that information closer to the centre (the local authority) is more likely to be represented in the centre’s repository. Information that exists a greater distance from the centre may not be captured, nor even known about; Foursquare et al overcome that.

(3) Efficient, transparent and intelligent

  • I’m loathed to stress this too much, but it’s likely to be a hook Councils will want thought about. Location-based social media could provide a cheaper contributor to information strategies, especially as a way of keeping things accurate and up-to-date. Current approaches are resource intensive and require staff to find the info, process it, publish it and then tell people about it
  • Creating, capturing and sharing information this way is more open, transparent and “accessible” a way of sharing information than it currently happens
  • Using social media provides a natural aggregator of views and opinions, as well as a form of quality assurance, that can inform commssioner intentions in a more engaged, slightly deeper way than traditional information strategies may.

Time means I won’t have the chance to cover the numerous challenges that such an approach will face. For completeness, I offer below the headlines on what I think are the biggest challenges (which undoubtedly exist – social media is no silver bullet):

  • Accessibility, and how social media works in general, and location-based social media in particular, for different types of people across different impairment and equality groups
  • The technological and digital divides
  • Quality Assurance
  • Encouraging providers to engage with this as a business opportunity
  • The prevalence of 2.0 thinking in the public sector.

What do you think? Is there too much information? Too little information? Are there bits I should drop or particularly focus on? Does my logic hold or are there gaps in my thinking?

Any and all comments welcome. I’ll aim to share a draft of the talk before I do it (if Ingrid, Francis et al let me!); otherwise, final versions of the talk/any slides after the event. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Two events: #LbyS and #NCVOac

I hope you’ll excuse the self-publicity, but I just wanted to let people know I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to speak at two great events coming up in the next few weeks.

The first is the South West edition of Local by Social. The theme of the event is “Apps for Communities”, exploring how Apps and Widgets can be used to bring real benefits to citizens. I’m going to be talking about the use of location-based social media in social care, drawing on a post I wrote here a few weeks ago.

The second is a workshop at NCVO’s 2011 Annual Conference on Civil Society 2.0. This draws on some Open Data stuff we’ve been doing at ecdp over the last few months, plus a few posts here on Open Data and the voluntary sector.

For both, I’m hoping to post and share a few thoughts here to shape what to cover at the events, and hope anyone with an interest in these areas will also share their thoughts/ideas in the comments. It goes without saying I’ll share any slides/copies of the talks.

#opendata in the Voluntary Sector: ecdp’s example

(I’m afraid this is a bit rambling and incoherent, but (a) it’s not quite the end of a long day, and (b) I wanted to get this down. Please allow for both (a) and (b) when reading…)

I’ve been interested in Open Data for the past few months, and have hosted (what I think is) an interesting discussion on the topic and how it applies to the Voluntary & Community Sector (VCS) here and here. There’s also a really interesting discussion on charities, public services and releasing data on the excellent Open Local Data Blog.

Because I happen to be pretty senior in my role in a disability organisation in the VCS, I’m in the fortunate position that I actually got to do something about it. Thus, today my organisation (ecdp) shared its Open Data work. There you can find an overview of what it is, our Performance Dashboard since July 2009, copies of our Management Board papers stretching back to August 2007 and our Annual Reports going back to 2004/05.

I’ve also written an overview paper on Transparency and Open data, which is embedded at the bottom of this post.

Talking over the last few weeks and today with friends and people who actually know what they’re on about (e.g. @karlwilding, @kanedr, @citizensheep, @loulouk, @Paul_Clarke), there are numerous interesting questions and debates around Open Data and the VCS that remained undefined and unanswered. Below, based on my/ecdp’s experience of this work to day, I’ve tried to capture some of them.

  • Is it really Open Data, or is it just open / transparent working? If it’s the latter, are there already good examples of VCS organisations doing this sort of thing (like publishing their Management Board papers and exposing their decision-making process) or not?
  • If it’s not Open Data but it’s still data, what is it? Does it hold value to other people? (This is a version of a question I’ve posed before. I think the answer is yes, but it still seems to be something to be explored.)
  • I’m working on the assumption that VCS organisations, as deliverers of public services under contract to public bodies, will need to publish the relevant data. Is this actually true? If so, will the same hold for non-VCS organisations such as private businesses, social enterprises and employee-owned organisations? If not, on what basis do the exemptions work?
  • In line with the above, can a VCS organisation publish its contract monitoring arrangements and reports with a public body? I’d argue yes, but what if there’s a clash between the culture of a public body and a VCS organisation?
  • Is a VCS organisation that publishes its data openly now essentially committing competitive suicide (assuming the data is that sort of data)?

On a very practical level, who else out there in the VCS has shared any of their data – no matter how little, or how not-quite-open-data it may be – that they’d be happy to tell us about?

Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, here are a few lessons or thoughts I had along the way of getting to the point where we’ve published what we have at ecdp today.

  • Strategic and operational context is vital in understanding and explaining why a VCS organisation needs to engage with the Open Data and transparency agenda
  • Open Data and transparency has been as much a useful driver internally as it has externally
  • It’s important to ensure all staff have the opportunity to see what’s being published externally before it is done so. This is just a motivation/belonging point rather than anything sinister about not revealing too much. Expecting staff to get the data at the same time as anyone externally risks undervaluing their role in the organisation
  • I think some public bodies can be thought of as intransigent or unwilling when it comes to things like Open Data and Transparency. The same can equally hold for VCS organisations
  • Expect colleagues to raise issues of risk, credibility and accuracy as a reason for not doing this, and have your arguments lined up. This said, as with anything else, engage your key decision makers (including relevant Trustees) to make sure they know the benefits, risks and reasons for doing this
  • Embed the process for creating the data in your day-to-day processes. Having this as an additional piece of work, especially in a VCS organisation, does not and will not go down well
  • There are several unintended benefits of driving Open Data and transparency in a (VCS) organisation, including strengthening governance arrangements, increasing cross-team collaboration, focusing on what matters rather than just measuring, and lifting everyone’s heads up to think about the outside world as well as just the immediacy of day-to-day work.

There are probably loads more, but hope that gives a flavour of the types of thoughts and issues going round my head over the last few days (on Open Data, at least).

Would be really interested in people’s views on this generally, the specifics of what ecdp has done and whether it’s any good (and how it can be improved).

Thanks to everyone – including those mentioned above – who have inspired or shaped this work. Let’s just hope a few other people from the VCS follow in this direction…