While working on Siôn Simon’s push for there to be a directly elected Mayor for Birmingham I contributed an ideas paper around the possibilities for a more open system of government in the city. It covered open data (in broad strokes rather than technical details), comms and transparency. It was always a plan for the team that ideas and plans be released as soon as they were ready—happy for any other campaigner to use what we thought were good things.

So, when the referendum went against us I talked to a few people about releasing this stuff anyway. I couldn’t do any harm, I figured. It’s taken me a while to get round to it.

These docs were my own work, so don’t take them as being ‘official’, I’m also not planning to do anything with them at this stage. Some of the ideas may already be part of the political plan of the city’s new council leadership, but to be honest I don’t know.

Feel free to use any of this if it’s interesting.


Open/Transparent Gov Policy Ideas:

Which became eventually a pledge:

2 thoughts on “Open government, data and transparency

  1. Thanks for sharing this stuff – I’m glad you did. I think this is a great model for transparency in local government and the strategic parts are backed up with specific roles for understanding this world and making it happen.

    I really like the idea of a Chief Technology Officer at a senior enough level to implement things – and savvy enough technically to understand the nuts and bolts, and not have the wool pulled over their eyes.

  2. As the only person who was ever Chair of the IT Sub Committee (in its brief six month history) I think there is a lot to be said for this. However, you need to be at least a little cautious on the open data side.

    Open data costs. At least in terms of building up an infrastructure and then maintaining it. You need to do that because once you let people build either systems or understanding on the back of it you need to keep on publishing data in roughly the same format. And you can’t assume that there will be any economic benefit. There may be, but it’s a bit like HS2 – anyone can create huge numbers out of nothing, but will they come to anything once the bloody thing is built?

    That doesn’t mean that there won’t be political (small p) benefit. But even there, beware of the people who will misuse data, even with the best intentions.

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