Friday, 23 July 2010

NESTA/nef Publication: Right here. Right now.

This week saw the launch of the third of three reports from NESTA/nef on co-production, ‘Right Here, Right Now’. 

The first report, The Challenge of Co-production, published in December 2009, explained what co-production is and why it offers the possibility of more effective and efficient public services. It offered the following definition of co-production:

"Co-production means delivering public services in an equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals, people using services, their families and their neighbours. Where activities are co-produced in this way, both services and neighbourhoods become far more effective agents of change.”

The second report, Public Services Inside Out, published in April, described a co-production framework comprising the following key characteristics:
  • Recognising people as assets.
  • Building on people’s existing capabilities.
  • Promoting mutuality and reciprocity.
  • Developing peer support networks.

This new report looks at how it can be implemented more widely.  Amongst the ways it proposes for doing this are:

  • building co-production into services
  • building co-production into commissioning, giving priority to prevention and measuring what matters.
  • launching prototypes to see how co-production could be mainstreamed in new sectors.
  • government to agree a ‘co-production guarantee’ to help overcome some of the barriers to co-production.
Altogether a useful compendium of information for the emerging initiatives under The Big Society. To quote from the document:

"Co-production is central to delivering the ‘Big Society’ vision because it offers a way of integrating the public resources that are earmarked for services with the private assets of those who are intended to benefit from services. There is far more to be gained from this approach than from current practice that separates ‘users’ from ‘providers’, or from a retrenchment of the state that leaves citizens themselves to fill the gap."


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Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Knowledge Hub (part 2)

It’s taken a while for me to get around to posting an update to my ‘Knowledge Hub Part 1’ post, mainly as a result of being fully immersed in the technology procurement process these past several months.  This phase is now almost complete and we will shortly be starting on the actual development of the Hub, so now seems to be an opportune moment to remind everyone what this ‘Knowledge Hub’ thing is, and to give a first airing of the accompanying video (commissioned from Learning Pool – thanks guys). The following is brief summary, partially lifted from an explanation I produced for - and in plain English as far as I’m able:

What is it?

The Knowledge Hub is essentially the next generation development of the highly successful local government CoP platform (a previous project of mine).  It will replace the existing infrastructure with new open technology facilitating integration with mainstream social media applications (for example Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN) and the rapid assimilation of new applications and web services as they emerge.  This will enable, for example, much better personalisation and permeability of content.  In addition Knowledge Hub will provide facilities that allow data on performance to be combined and shared (so called "linked-data") potentially providing the framework to deliver the wider move to transparent government

Why is it important?

As the UK moves towards economic recovery it is expected there will be greater demands on local government to:
  • continue to demonstrate cost-effective delivery methods
  • be ‘fleeter of foot’ in gathering and using sector knowledge – not only to learn from others' experience but also to accelerate the development and implementation of innovative delivery.
The strategy is based on the premise that knowledge of ‘what works’ and ‘what doesn’t work’ can be found within the local government community. Unleashed, this knowledge can be collectively focused on excellent public service delivery.
The overarching outcome of the Knowledge Hub programme is that by 2012/13, the culture of local government will be one of collaborative knowledge generation. This will involve everyone learning, sharing and problem-solving using a technology platform provided by LG Improvement & Development but owned by the local government sector.
While a working title of a ‘Knowledge Hub’ is being used it is perhaps more appropriate to use the metaphor of a dynamo-powered light, which shines brighter and illuminates the way more clearly the more involvement there is from participants and users.

What is the scope?

The Knowledge Hub will comprise three interdependent elements:
(a) Technology:
This includes the systems, software applications, hosting and service support.
(b) Data:
This will be a combination of:
  • user-generated content (blogs, wikis, forums, libraries etc.)
  • system-generated content (data visualisation, graphs, reports, statistics)
  • approved datasets (open and linked data)
  • incoming data feeds (RSS, Atom etc.)
(c) Knowledge Ecology
Support for and development of culture and user behaviours that will foster the dynamic evolution of knowledge sharing and innovation through improved evolutionary networks of collaboration.

Some of the key features

The Knowledge Hub will not replicate or replace any similar initiatives currently being used, developed or proposed by individual councils or partnerships. Rather, the Hub will bring together information about innovation and good practice from any number of these sources to help the development of the whole sector.
  • It will be a web-based service and will be accessible through any device with web capability, including mobile phones and PDAs.
  • The technology and systems will support ‘agile’ development, allowing new functionality and services to be added quickly.
  • It will find and follow people with same/similar interests, leading to opportunities for collaboration coproduction and partnership working.
  • It will provide visualisation tools e.g. ‘heat maps’ showing emerging trends and ideas.
  • It will enable performance data to be shared between councils for comparison and benchmarks.
  • It will have a 'serendipity engine' which will identify related ideas and themes.
  • It will aggregate and integrate conversations and content from different sources and enable key themes to ‘bubble up’ to the top.
  • It will support open standards and be available as an open platform with a published application programming interface (API) enabling third party developers and social innovators to create new applications, widgets and mashups.
  • It will be launched in the first quarter of 2011.
Now see the video!