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Ben Cheetham · local gov digital

Let's sort this out. Together.

I’ve just finished a run of three days in London. First an open data meeting at the Cabinet Office following by UKGovCamp on Saturday and finishing up with the Local Digital Data-Sharing Discovery Day today.

Jason Kitcat started the discovery day talking about how we in local government need to change what we do and how we deliver services:

and in particular we need to stop doing stuff in isolation:

I agree that we need to stop repeatedly building or buying the same systems in some cases at the same time when we could work together to do it once (or certainly fewer times than we currently are).

What struck me about these three events (the audience of which are groups I haven’t interacted with before) is that the stories, problems and needs they talked about are pretty much exactly the same as I’ve heard before with other groups.

We need standards.

We need to share use cases, stories and business cases.

Why didn’t we know you were doing that?

I’m just about to do that! Or, I’ve just done that too!

It would be great if we had one place to find stuff

So what can we do?

Well I think there are some tools out there to solve some of this – we just need to use them.

LocalGov Digital have adopted the following approach:

Think. Do. Share.

(if you haven’t heard of LocalGov Digital they [stealing the words of the chair, Carl Haggerty] are a bunch of volunteers from local government and its partners who care about delivering brilliant user focused public services - I’m one of them)


Think differently about what you’re doing. Start with user needs. There’s a big community out there, so think aloud and get feedback by blogging, tweeting #localgovdigital or posting in the LocalGov Digital Google+ community.

You can also share your ideas on Pipeline, a free tool made by Phil Rumens (with a little bit of help from me) to help people connect when they’ve got an idea to do something.

The lovely people in the DCLG Local Digital team run free events across the country and have a number of resources available on their site.


Connect with someone doing something similar via Pipeline. Work together. You don’t have to do the whole thing together. Maybe you’ll just look at user needs, maybe you’ll look at buying some stuff together or maybe you’ll build something together or maybe just learn from their experience.

It might save you time by being able to reuse work or do stuff in parallel. If you buy something, you might save money by purchasing the thing together. If you build, you might get it quicker by pooling resources or building on what is already there.

If the thing you’re doing involves data think about any data standards that might exist. This will make the data easier to share with other teams or partners and integrate with other systems.

Developers, check this page on Civic Exchange to see if someone in a government organisation has already shared some code that might help you build the thing you are working on.


Share how you did it. Share what didn’t work. Share what did. Were you able to deliver what you hoped? Blog it, tweet it, post it, update the project on Pipeline.

If you wrote any code share it online using GitHub so others can find it.

Finally, share with your colleagues that there are groups like LocalGov Digital and the Local Digital team and tools such as Pipeline, Google+ and Twitter that can help us to save time and money by working together.

P.S. If you’re a developer, why not help us to build Pipeline – get in touch with us at @LGMakers.