From: Dan Jellinek [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 16 April 2008 11:33
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: E-Government Bulletin, 16 April 2008 - BBC E-Democracy Spending; Funerals Webcast; Council Launches Interactive Online Magazine.
- ISSUE 261, 16 April 2008.
- A Headstar Publication
IN THIS ISSUE: BBC E-Democracy Spending; Funerals Webcast; Council Launches Interactive Online Magazine.
Please forward this free service to others so they can subscribe - full details at the end.
We never pass on email addresses.
++Special Notice: GIS In The Public Sector
- Countdown To EU's INSPIRE Directive
- 14 May 2008, Central London
The European Union's INSPIRE Directive lays down the ground rules to enable spatial data from separate databases to be combined seamlessly, paving the way for geospatial data to be shared by public bodies across the EU. It is set to come into full force in the UK in May 2009, but the countdown begins now.
Headstar's flagship annual event 'Geographical Information Systems
(GIS) in the Public Sector: the Countdown to INSPIRE' promises to be an essential day for anyone from the public or private sectors involved in the collection, management and use of geospatial data.
Places cost 295 Pounds plus VAT for public sector and 395 plus VAT for private sector. For more information and to register see:
And for information about sponsoring or exhibiting please email Will Knox on:
[log in to unmask] or call him on 01273 267974.
[Special Notice ends].
++Issue 261 Contents.
01: BBC Spent 1.3 Million On Defunct Action Network
- New freedom of information gateway channels request on costs.
02: Commons Procedure Committee Backs Online Petitions
- House moves to reclaim internet initiative from Downing Street.
03: Inaugural Meeting For Local Government CIO Council
- Body to help forge cross-public sector IT profession.
News in Brief:
04: Pensioned Out - DirectGov moves department; 05: Democracy Gallery - BBC multimedia project; 06: Digital Send-off - Southampton funerals webcast.
Section Two: Case Study - North East Derbyshire 'YOURspace'.
07: What Works Is Better Than What Is New: Young people are notoriously hard to engage with council websites, but one authority thinks it has the answer: an online interactive magazine with polls, an environmental game and a video vault. Dan Jellinek logs on.
Section Three: Parliamentary IT Committee (PITCOM) - Cybercrime and the police.
08: New Connections To Fight Crime: several new partnership and umbrella bodies are being created to try and gain ground in the fight against online crime, MPs and Peers heard at last month's PITCOM meeting. The watchwords are collaboration and co-ordination.
++Special Notice: Shared Services In The Public Sector
- 4 June 2008, New Connaught Rooms, Central London
- Early Bird Offer: 100 Pound Discount to 30 April http://www.headstar-events.com/gis08/
With a dual focus on improving public services and enhancing efficiency, Shared Services is a vital policy area for public sector bodies of all sizes. The sharing of both back-office and front-line services between different public sector bodies, and between public and private sector bodies, can create economies of scale and pool valuable expertise and resources.
Building on our high level online summit in March, our June conference aims to provide insights into the benefits and challenges of sharing systems and services; to identify good practice; and to provide a forum to share experience amongst those involved with planning shared services.
Places normally cost 295 Pounds plus VAT for public sector and 395 plus VAT for private sector, but register before the end of April to gain our 100 Pound Early Bird discount:
And for information about sponsoring or exhibiting please email Will Knox on:
[log in to unmask] or call him on 01273 267974.
[Special Notice ends].
++Section One: News.
+01: BBC Spent 1.3 Million On Defunct Action Network.
The BBC spent around 1.3 million pounds in three chunks over five years on its failed Action Network e-democracy project, according to the response to a freedom of information (FOI) request from Tom Steinberg, founder of the e-democracy charity MySociety (
Action Network (
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/actionnetwork/ ) was designed to foster participation in local causes and neighbourhood activities through user- generated local networks. The BBC decided to close the service from this month, saying the recent proliferation of websites and web-based tools offering alternative solutions and innovations had surpassed its own efforts and capabilities. However, the initial statement made no mention of the cost of the former service.
The FOI request on cost was sent to the corporation by Steinberg on 17 March and the response issued on 11 April. Steinberg said the figure was not surprising but suggested better management might have salvaged the network. "The figure was exactly what I was expecting. It is obviously quite a lot of money compared with MySociety's costs - we have spent slightly more than a third of that for everything we have done over four years. But it is not horrific or scandalous - just a shame that there was not a more concrete outcome."
He said Action Network had been "A very sound idea, very badly implemented for management reasons. [The BBC] never took account of user feedback and it was never iterated, never improved."
The FOI request formed one of the first tests of MySociety's new online FOI gateway 'WhatDoTheyKnow? ( http://www.whatdotheyknow.com ).
The gateway makes it easy for anyone to search for a public authority and send off an FOI request, with responses also published on the public, fully searchable website. The request system did not necessarily have any impact on the outcome of the request, Steinberg said, but it does make the response more easy to find and publicise.
+02: Commons Procedure Committee Backs Online Petitions.
The House of Commons has moved to 'reclaim its role' from 10 Downing Street as the main recipient of citizen petitions in the internet age, with the publication of a Procedure Committee report backing the establishment of an online petition system.
The committee recommends that e-petitions should be submitted on the Parliament website, with the petitioner's constituency MP asked to act as facilitator. Petitions will remain open on the site to collect signatures for a set period of time before being presented to the House and published in Hansard. On three occasions each year the House of Commons would be scheduled to debate the petitions. Following a full Commons vote the system could be implemented by 2010 (
The committee took into account some of the more controversial aspects of e-petitions demonstrated on the Number 10 website, where more than 49,000 signatories are currently calling for TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson be appointed Prime Minister. However, it said the government's own 2007 green paper 'Governance of Britain' ( http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/governanceofbritain.htm ) had stated that Parliament, not Number 10, should be the recipient of citizen's petitions. "Historically and constitutionally the House of Commons is the place to which petitions should properly be presented.
It is time for the House to reclaim that role in the internet age," the report said.
The committee estimates the project's start up costs would be around 500,000 pounds, with an additional 750,000 per year to maintain.
Other national parliaments already running e-petitions include the Scottish Parliament (http://epetitions.scottish.parliament.uk/) and the German Bundestag. The Scottish system differs from that proposed for the House of Commons since petitioners are required to demonstrate that they have sought redress through other avenues before submitting their e-petition. The Bundestag has recently completed a two-year pilot project and has now released a tender for a new e-petition system to be implemented. In the German system, each petition will be accompanied by an online discussion forum.
+03: Inaugural Meeting For Local Government CIO Council.
A new Local Government Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council has been set up by the Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm) to represent the views of local government in England to the existing Government CIO council (http://www.cio.gov.uk/).
The Government CIO Council was set up in 2005 with just two members from local government: Birmingham City Council Assistant to the Chief Executive on Transformation Glyn Evans and Hampshire County Council Head of IT Jos Creese. Evans and Creese now also sit on the local government CIO council where they are joined by CIOs from 13 other representatives of the English regions and council types including incoming Socitm president Richard Steel (see
Socitm says the new body will strengthen the credibility and influence of local government in public sector IT policymaking, and help to join- up local and national initiatives such as the development of the concept of an 'IT profession' for the public sector.
The council's first meeting took place on 1 April 2008, and will now meet three times a year. The next meeting is scheduled for July to discuss the council's terms of reference.
News in Brief:
+04: Pensioned Out: The UK government's main public service web
portal, DirectGov, has moved this month to come under the control of the Department of Work and Pensions. DirectGov was launched in
2004 and provides one-stop easy access to information and services throughout the public sector. The site was previously administered by the Central Office of Information:
+05: Democracy Gallery: A new digital democracy project from the
BBC will attempt to make the UK's parliaments and assemblies as well as the European Parliament more accessible to the public by presenting a multimedia gallery combining original and third party content. The corporation is looking for volunteers to evaluate its design ideas for the service once the blueprints are finalised:
+06: Digital Send-off: Mourners in Southampton will now be able to
watch funeral ceremonies at the city's main crematorium over live webcasts, to allow people to observe ceremonies for friends and family that they are unable to attend in person. The fee for viewing the webcast is £75, and DVDs and CDs of proceedings will also be available for online purchase at £50 and £25 respectively:
[Section One ends].
++Special Notice: e-Access 08: Technology for All
- Access to ICT and Online Services by People with Disabilities
- 23 April 2008, Church House Conference Centre, London http://www.headstar-events.com/eaccess08/ .
Headstar's fourth annual conference and exhibition on access to technology by people with disabilities is on 23 April 2008 in central London.
The information revolution and new technologies can change the lives of people with disabilities, but all service providers must ensure that their access, marketing and IT strategies are in line with best practice.
It's not just about the web, but about e-learning, digital TV, mobile phones, and other portable devices. E-Access 08 is the place to find out more about how to comply with the law; what elements to include in your access policies; and the latest in access technology.
Sponsored by Fortune Cookie and supported by E-Access Bulletin, E- Government Bulletin, RNIB and Ability Magazine our spring event is a must for every modern organisation. Places cost just 195 pounds for public sector delegates and 295 pounds for private sector delegates, including all sessions, exhibition, lunch and refreshments:
[Special notice ends].
++Section Two: Case Study
- North East Derbyshire 'YOURspace'.
+07: What Works Is Better Than What Is New
by Dan Jellinek.
The use of video content and interactive features to engage citizens, particularly young people, are increasing trends for council websites in the brave new world of 'Web 2.0'.
Last month saw the launch of a project by North East Derbyshire council that unites these trends: 'YOURspace', an online magazine with interactive and video elements that encourages community groups to send in their own films.
The site (
is intended to be informal and approachable, to engage various local audiences but particularly younger people. Features include polls, tips on how to get involved with local democratic and community activity, and the 'video vault'.
Elaine McGovern, E-information Officer at North East Derbyshire, tells E-Government Bulletin: "We were aware we were not attracting young people to the website, and wanted to reach out in a different way." The council has contacted all parishes, local community and voluntary groups and schools to see if they have or would like to make any video content for the site, and also to have input into the site's development.
"We have had discussions with quite a few community groups, and they feel they might have or be able to make content, there seems to be interest." Some of the early video content has been filmed by the council itself. McGovern says, such as a clip on local democracy week and one on the council's health referral scheme, a partnership with the local health service to encourage people at health risk into healthier lifestyles.
"The health referral film was planned before YOURspace but it is a really good way to distribute it, better than by DVD. We have also sourced some content externally, such as a film about Fairtrade, because we're buying into the Fairtrade concept."
The council's leisure department is also working on some publicity videos for the site which will enable young people to view potential activities and vote on which ones they would like to see the council launch.
The interactive magazine was created with software from multimedia and webcasting specialists public-i, and McGovern says it was partly inspired by South Oxfordshire council's online community video magazine 'Outburst'
Ironically this latter site seems to be dwindling through lack of activity, but McGovern is convinced that such features are where the future lies for council websites. "It is part of the future. You can make websites as interesting and transactional as you like, but some people need an extra hook, particularly young people."
One key feature of YOURspace is the interactive online game 'Myabodo', a feature which is free for any council or organisation to link to or embed in their website. The game was commissioned for general use last year by Defra, to encourage young people to think about climate change. Players build and customise fun little cartoon houses an engaging way and observe the results this has on their environmental footprint.
Gez Smith, e-Democracy Consultant at Delib, the digital agency which created Myabodo for Defra, thinks North East Derybshire's project is "a great idea, and councils should always be looking for ways to blend more seamlessly with what people are used to on the wider internet.
Councils could certainly be doing more of this online, and it would be pretty straightforward to replicate the YOURspace site with the free platforms that are out there at the moment like Wordpress and YouTube."
Smith says councils tend to lag behind other organisations in terms of web innovation, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. "In a way, innovation isn't something to be proud of any more in this area, the knowledge of what works online is already out there. Councils need to work harder to make sure they're copying what works, and not re- inventing wheels that other people found to be broken a long time ago.
"People should lose the focus on innovation and doing what is new, and focus on whether it works or not. A lot of innovation in e- democracy over the last five years just hasn't worked, despite winning awards for 'innovation'."
[Section Two ends]
++Section Three: Parliamentary IT Committee (PITCOM)
- Cybercrime and the police
+08: New Connections To Fight Crime
by Dan Jellinek.
Several new partnership initiatives to tackle the modern scourges of cybercrime and information security were outlined at a landmark meeting in March, Cybercrime and the police, hosted jointly by PITCOM with the All-Party Policing Group and the All-Party Parliamentary Communications Group (apComms).
A new high-level strategic approach to combating fraud in the UK was described by Sandra Quinn, Director of the Development Team for a new National Fraud Strategic Authority. "The authority will assess strategic challenges, provide leadership, and tackle the gaps, overlaps and conflicts which currently let the fraudsters through," Quinn said.
The body's remit will include all forms of fraud, including online fraud.
The authority - which has secured Treasury funding for its first three years - will bring together government, consumers, law enforcement and the private sector, Quinn said. "There is currently a lot of activity, but it is not very joined-up and we can get more out of the collective efforts currently being expended to help protect all victims of fraud."
Working with the National Fraud Strategic Authority will be the new National Fraud Reporting Centre. Its activities will include establishing a web portal and call centre for public and business to report fraud; issue advice on how to respond to fraud and prevent future cases; identify patterns and links for law enforcement to pursue cases effectively; and alert consumers and business organisations to fraud threats. Strengthening law enforcement efforts will be a National Lead operational force on fraud to take on some complex cases, and provide expertise and support to law enforcement bodies nationwide.
The agency will report directly to government ministers so that it can recommend changes in policy or legislation, Quinn said. However, she
said: "It is also really important to be effective that it is not just a creature of government so it will work as a partnership between the public and private sectors," and to this end it is developing using a working group of 25 other bodies such as the Serious Fraud Office and the Serious Organised Crime Agency, and is building partnerships with the telecoms, finance, IT and other industries.
Another partnership project in the related area of information security awareness was outlined by David King, Chair of the Information Security Awareness Forum.
A recent survey for his forum by Infosecurity Europe found that for 79 per cent of organisations their single greatest security weakness is a lack of awareness, with people not knowing about, ignoring or circumventing security processes and technical countermeasures, King said.
"The problem is in the UK, it is a complex issue. Each of us wears different hats as an individual, employer, employee, consumer or seller, and there are also many suppliers of advice on information security, each with their own agenda. Who do we listen to?"
The Information Security Awareness Forum was set up six months ago to bring people, knowledge and channels together, he said. Its members include more than a dozen IT and telecommunications industry bodies including the British Computer Society, the National Computing Centre and the Institute of Information Security Professionals.
"The members come together to co-ordinate existing work and initiatives to improve their overall effectiveness," King said.
Its projects will include a set of short guides covering different aspects of information security, aimed at directors of organisations. The forum is also organising an Information Security Awareness Week which will take place from 21-25 April this year.
"We are primarily concerned with awareness, to ensure people protect their own interests, but this work needs to be complemented by an effective mechanism for reporting and handling investigations into e- crime," he said.
In response to a question about whether there was a need to create a new organisation in a field where many already exist, Dr King said it had been "with reluctance that we picked a name for the new forum, because we just wanted people to work together. The forum has no constitution or statute. The focus is on getting things done, on the basis of trust and partnership.
"We have to avoid reinventing the wheel - we will deliver value by unlocking what is already out there, and making new connections."
In a third strong endorsement of the partnership approach, Alun Michael MP said the recently established UK Internet Governance Forum - an umbrella partnership between Parliament, government, industry and civil society - would also play its part in tackling cybercrime.
He said online crime exists on a spectrum from very high level - such as attacks on the UK's critical infrastructure - to low level, such as spam. It was often the low-level or nuisance activity that affected ordinary people the most in their everyday lives, just as more people are affected by graffiti than by major environmental disasters. But the perception is that the police deal effectively with the big issues, but that no-one is tackling the high-volume small issues.
"In my view there is a need for an e-crime and nuisance reduction partnership," Michael said. "E-crime should not be seen as a separate phenomenon, but as the electronic aspects of existing crime.
"We need a comprehensive, single approach, led by the technology industry, and that's where UK IGF comes in. The forum is a model of enhanced co-operation: it is not a new institution.
"It is very important that there is proper accountability, but one that avoids bureaucracy and regulation."
NOTE: MPs and Peers founded PITCOM in 1981 to provide a bridge between Parliament and the IT industry. E-Government Bulletin publisher Headstar is the official writer of PITCOM meeting reports and technology briefings for Parliamentarians. To download further meeting reports and briefings free of charge, see:
+HOW TO RECEIVE E-GOVERNMENT BULLETIN.
To subscribe to this free fortnightly bulletin as an HTML attachment
[log in to unmask]
or for the plain text version email:
[log in to unmask] .
To unsubscribe from the HTML version email:
[log in to unmask]
and to unsubscribe from the text version email:
[log in to unmask] .
Or to register on the web, visit:
+TEN STANDARD: This newsletter conforms to the accessible Text
Email Newsletter (TEN) Standard, developed by our sister newsletter E-Access Bulletin. For details see:
- Copyright 2008 Headstar Ltd.
Regular circulation or reproduction of the bulletin by third parties is forbidden. Properly accredited articles (always including source details, bulletin subscription details and web address) or entire single issues of the bulletin (including this notice) may be forwarded to individuals or groups of people as long as it is made clear that to receive a regular copy, people must subscribe individually. For queries about article reproduction, syndication or other copyright issues please email [log in to unmask] .
Editor - Dan Jellinek.
Reporter: Majeed Saleh.
Associate Editors - Derek Parkinson, Mel Poluck.
Marketing and Sales Team - Claire Clinton, Jo Knell, Will Knox.
[Issue 261 ends].
Distributed through Cyber-Society-Live [CSL]: CSL is a moderated discussion
list made up of people who are interested in the interdisciplinary academic
study of Cyber Society in all its manifestations.To join the list please visit: