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David Wilcox

Voices from the Tower may change tone of #TheWayAhead for civil society, as well as much else

6 min read

Yesterday's event about The Way Ahead for London civil society offered more detail about the formal plans for a resource hub, and other support systems for community groups, organisations and charities.

However, the emotional tone was set by reflections at the start and finish on the Grenfell Tower disaster.

At the start Geraldine Blake, project officer for The Way Ahead, expressed our deep sympathy for the individuals, families and communities affected, and admiration for the extraordinary effort of volunteers.

I think we all immediately brought to mind both the horror of the burned out tower, and the news images of volunteers rapidly organising to provide support when, it seemed, official bodies were unable to respond.

Photo Eastern Eye

Photo Eastern Eye

Wasn't that the best of "civil society"?

Two overlapping themes emerging from conversations. Yes, on the one hand the efforts of individuals and small groups generally outweigh those of organisations and charities in London, even if they usually have a lower profile.

On the other hand the community centres, sports halls, other facilities and services used by volunteers are an essential part of the civil society infrastructure now under threat from funding cuts. That’s the dual challenge being addressed in The Way Ahead: maintaining what people called the plumbing and connective tissue as well as inspiring and supporting the individuals and groups. But is the balance right?

One of the recurring criticisms of The Way Ahead process, as I wrote here, has been poor communication and engagement with Londoners and small groups.

At the end of the event, Richard Lee, cordinator of the campaigning network Justspace again referred to Grenfell Tower, and I asked him to reprise his remarks for me.

As you can hear in the interview, Richard argues that the tone, and maybe the substance of The Way Ahead documents, should be changed. (Links to documents in this post). He says that the part of civil society that really came forward in the wake of the disaster were activists, small community groups, and people who wanted to take part purely as volunteers.

People felt humbled looking at this and seeing how this part of civil society really took charge in providing for the needs of the people there.

When we look at The Way Ahead Change documents, and the proposals for the hub, do they actually also include these community voices, these activists, those doing things voluntarily, those who are part of small community groups? They don't, and I don’t I’m alone in thinking this.

There are other people in the room today who equally feel we cannot give consent to these documents as they stand.

Richard refers to an event on July 12, organised by Matt Scott, with Richard, me and others, when there will be an opportunity to contribute fresh ideas. He calls for space in The Way Ahead process to both reflect on the implications of the disaster, and incorporate these ideas.

An open event for people active in their community to network and build alliances for collective action

As part of this event we will explore how community groups and Londoners can influence ‘The Way Ahead’ agenda and proposed London Hub.

I then talked to Geraldine Blake, project officer for The Way Ahead, who explained the substantial consultation processes that informed development of the documents, adding:

I liked Richard's point that we change the tone of of the Change Plans to make sense of them to frontline community organisations and activists. That’s absolutely something we'll feed in.

I'm very very keen to be part of the event in a few weeks and feed that in to The Way Ahead Change Plan. What we want is the strongest possible plan that means something to all the people that need to be involved in actually making it happen.

Geraldine said that this is a moment when the value of civil society has become very clear, and we need to capitalise on it for longer-term benefit. It is also important to recognise the value of locally-rooted organisations in joining things up.

In my next interview, Matt Scott suggests we must go deeper on engagement and create spaces where people can set out their own stories, and build much stronger networks and coalitions. He said that today was made up of quite formal presentations and complex table discussions. The event on June 12 will provide conversation space during an afternoon and evening, and hopefully start to mobilise a different part of civil society. Most community groups are small, and would not walk through the door of a formal event.

The Way Ahead is a fantastic opportunity to get the sector where it should be in London, because we have a desperately low profile - and I'm keen too do a different kind of event with different kind of conversations

Previously:

David Wilcox

Another hope for #TheWayAhead at today's event - a communication programme to inform and engage Londoners

6 min read

I'm glad that yesterday's post about the need for a more networky approach to The Way Ahead plans for a London resource hub gained some tweets and comments - see below the post. Thanks all.

I'm now off to the conference, and hoping that one of the issues to be addressed will be communications and engagement. I find relatively few people know about The Way Ahead, and that formal reports are, ahem, less than engaging. However, there may have been lots of activity I don't know about, and new plans for comms. I'll report back, and also continue to check out The Way Ahead website.

Here's what I posted in December 2016 after the last event

This Storify of tweets compiled by Superhighways, and a photo report, show the breadth of discussion at last week's event on the future of London's civil society **.

The event was organised by London Voluntary Service Council, Greater London Volunteering and London Funders to take forward their report The Way Ahead - Civil Society and the Heart of London.

Effective action could involve everyone from individual citizens to groups, charities, councils and business. The big challenge now is not just understanding and explaining the report, but offering ways for people to play a part.

As I wrote earlier, I'm working with LVSC on how Londoners can in future better connect with each other, engage in local activities and find support.

Drew Mackie and I will be looking at ways in which people and groups can develop their personal and community networks, using a range of methods including new technology.

We hope this will make a useful contribution to The Way Ahead - and so I was glad to join in the communications group at the event, led by Steve Wyler.

Communications

Here's notes I've transcribed from the photo report:

  • recognising different phases - e.g. currently a development and engagement phase
  • comms will matter throughout implementation
  • development phase likely to continue beyond March 2016 - urgent point about producing a succinct and tailored set of propositions that sets out The Way Ahead recommendations for different stakeholders (e.g. messages for business will be different from those for frontline groups)
  • communication needs to be more than broadcast, needs engagement and enabled contributions (some could be to thematic groups, but also need something beyond this - website but visuals not just text, plus online networking forum)
  • roadshow events, either on local areas http://www.connectinglondoners.blog/2017/heres-hoping-thewayahead-plans-for-a-london-resource-hub-become)on thematic issues, to talk to people about what this would mean in practice chairs of theme groups and system change group need to model new forms of communication
  • need system of communications that work well for frontline volunteers, activists and others, not just digital and not just those already in the room

The group report on peer-to-peer learning was very relevant too:

  • leadership and learning important as it underpins everything in The Way Ahead
  • need to be proactive in developing our leadership programmes underway, but information not being shared between people and organisations
  • need sector-specific opportunities, but important to have cross-sector work to learn and grow (e.g. time banking between people and organisations)
  • need to recognise that competition can stand in the way of sharing ideas

The communications recommendations apply mainly to The Way Ahead programme, while peer-to-peer learning is about what happens next. In addition we had a useful discussion about the realities of day-to-day communications in community and voluntary organisations, and the need to offer a mix of methods from face-to-face through phone calls and print to online.

As well as external communications, there will first be the challenge of facilitating conversations between the five thematic groups now established:

  • Co-production
  • Data: collating, analysing and sharing data about the needs and strengths of Londoners
  • Triage and connecting: local, specialist and regional support organisations
  • Voice and campaigning: civil society needs to be fully engaged in decision-making on London- wide issues,
  • Consistent commissioning and funding for support

The main recommendation in the The Way Ahead is to promote and develop co-production, by which the review team mean:

Co-production is where Londoners work with those in power, and each other, in a way in which all voices are heard equally in developing a shared understanding of need and in crafting solutions to make London a better place.

All this suggests to me that The Way Ahead will only succeed if everyone concerned - from funders to councils, groups and organisations, and citizens - can talk to each other about what's involved in making their London a better place to live.

This involves creating some communication systems that embrace new and older methods, internally and externally.

I know that The Way Ahead team will be launching a new web site, and planning other forms of communication.

At the moment The Way Ahead reports are pretty heavy pdfs, so I think a simple explainer would be a useful start, covering for example:

  • What is civil society
  • How does it operate
  • What isn’t working - for citizens, organisations, funders
  • What changes are coming - whether through funding cuts or external forces
  • What are the key ideas in The Way Ahead
  • Who needs to be involved in co-production and other changes
  • What might be involved in making changes

... which would lead to "here's what part you might play".

At the end of the event facilitator George Gawlinski remarked that for change to happen The Way Ahead needed to be a movement.

If so, the challenge is not just how to promote the messages of The Way Ahead - but how to offer people ways to get involved, in terms that make sense to them. The event last week provided the energy and insights to do that.

** The Way Ahead report offers this definition:

“Civil society is where people take action to improve their own lives or the lives of others and act where government or the private sector don’t. Civil society is driven by the values of fairness and equality, and enables people to feel valued and to belong. It includes formal organisations such as voluntary and community organisations, informal groups of people who join together for a common purpose and individuals who take action to make their community a better place to live.”

David Wilcox

Here's hoping #TheWayAhead plans for a London resource hub become more networky

3 min read

Further ideas for a resource hub to support London civil society have been circulated to those attending tomorrow's major conference on The Way Ahead. As I explain below, I think it is one of the most challenging issues in the programme.

Previously The Way Ahead published the recommendations of five working groups, as I reported here. The Way Ahead web site also has reports on the hub from consultants advising London Voluntary Service Council, and local Councils for Voluntary Services. The latest ideas aren't on the site, but since they are widely circulated I've taken the slight liberty of uploading them. Here's all the links

The Way Ahead is in part a response to cuts in funding which mean that many support services at local and London level are under threat. One of the key issues is how far support can be centralised in a hub, and how far it should be decentralised in CVSs and other organisations.

I've contributed to some of the working groups, as well as working with LVSC on the idea of Networked City, which aims to bring more network thinking and tech into The Way Ahead.

A month ago I drafted some ideas on how to rethink the notion of a hub as a network - or lots of linked networks. I didn't publish them at the time, but now seems a good opportunity to throw them into the pot.

Here's a radical option for a London civil society Hub - build a network of people and projects

I've included this provocation:

The risk is that the Hub will be designed on a business-as-usual model that reflects a political compromise between the existing organisations struggling to maintain their existence in the face of funding cuts. There will be a new organisation, or consortium, with representatives from existing ones that will develop its own mailing lists, newsletters, web site, events, training courses, publications.

This centralised or consortium hub will get some start up funding - but it will probably have to generate more by fund raising and developing services in competition with existing organisations. People won’t share their knowledge because they are in competition.

So far the latest hub proposals are not much more than a shell charitable company effectively merging LVSC and Greater London Volunteering, so there's plenty of opportunity to take a networked and decentralised approach. There's some mention of that in the proposals, and I'll be listening out tomorrow for more.

Either way I'm certain we'll get some radical, bottom-up ideas at a event on July 12.

An open event for people active in their community to network and build alliances for collective action

As part of this event we will explore how community groups and Londoners can influence ‘The Way Ahead’ agenda and proposed London Hub.

David Wilcox

Working groups publish reports on #TheWayAhead for London's Civil Society

1 min read

The Way Ahead initiative that aims to redesign support for London's civil society has now published reports from five specialist working groups, in advance of the major conference later this month.

The reports are on Pragmatic Co-production; Triage and Connect; Data Sharing; Voice and Campaigning; Consistent commissioning and funding. The reports are highly detailed because of the complexity of the issues, so I'm hoping that there will be an analysis and summary available from the System Change Group by the time of the event.

I was a member of three of the groups, and I know how much work those leading them put in. My thanks to the Triage and Connect group for referring to the Slipham Living Lab that Drew Mackie and I worked on, and the Co-production group for using some content from the note in did.

I've included background information on The Way Ahead in the post on the conference on June 22.

David Wilcox

RSA Networked Cities aim to make tech serve citizens - let's co-design with people and communities #RSACities

5 min read

The RSA has filled out its vision of a Networked City - launched at a recent event - as one that "makes the most of technology with citizens at the forefront".

I hope this approach opens the door to collaboration with London's Networked City exploration and with RSA Fellows who have expertise in the field. We could help co-design Networked Cities with citizens to ensure that they and not top-down tech initiatives are in the lead.

In Cities 3.0 - from data-driven to people-powered senior researcher Brhmie Balaram says that technology-driven Smart City solutions require rethinking:

Over the past decade, ‘Smart Cities’ have captured the imaginations of city leaders, urban planners, and tech enthusiasts. A Smart City was conceived of as a city that integrates information and communication technology (ICT) and the Internet of Things to help manage a city’s assets. With big data came the promise of greater control, enabling cities to cut down on costs, energy, and crime.

But while some cities, like Glasgow and Barcelona have used technology to improve public services, developments in Singapore and Rio have raised concerns about using sensors and cameras to track citizens and vehicles.

These sorts of examples have provoked critiques from the likes of scholars like Adam Greenfield about whether Smart City advocates are simply trying to turn cities into computers and assuming that urban planning can be reduced to algorithms. Concerns have been raised about the level of surveillance and the lack of transparency about how data is being used. In recognition that the use of technology can be disempowering for citizens of Smart Cities, the RSA is proposing a different way for cities to make the most of technology with citizens at the forefront.

Rather than the city as a computer, we should see cities as a network of people.

Whereas citizens were once passive bystanders to technology, in ‘Networked Cities’ the use of peer-to-peer technology means that citizens must actively consent to and participate in its use. Examples of P2P technology might include sharing economy platforms, crowdfunding, and citizen engagement tools such as Pol.is or Wazoku. These peer-to-peer platforms empower people through connecting them to one another through a network.

Smart Cities were critiqued because big technology companies were driving a top-down approach determined by the sort of technology they were producing, but what’s exciting about peer-to-peer technology is that the network is ultimately decentralised and distributed. The purpose of a network can be shaped, but there is a lot more scope for grassroots, bottom-up movements to emerge as well.

Brhmie adds that while P2P technolody is being used in 'Sharing Cities' like Seoul, for example, there it is usually focussed on a specific objective of sharing goods or services. The RSA Networked City vision is wider.

We envision that in Networked Cities, P2P technology would be embedded in systems akin to the technology of Smart Cities, but would enable a collaborative approach to problem-solving, as it has in Sharing Cities.

In Networked Cities, however, the goal citizens are working towards is broader than managing shared assets and resource; the ambition here would be to apply P2P technology to support inclusive growth. While cities have long been drivers of growth, in recent years they have also struggled with widening inequality, compelling cities to pursue a new agenda that rebalances social objectives and economic priorities. Under the banner of achieving inclusive growth, cities must find solutions to emerging problems of health, housing, the environment, ageing and other demographic change.

At the RSA, we’d argue that Networked Cities goes beyond simply rethinking the Smart City or Sharing City in terms of the tools or technologies that we use, or how we engage citizens, because we are also redefining the problems and challenges being tackled. The Networked City is about more than managing public space and population growth or enabling resource efficiency; rather it takes into account wider social challenges that cities are confronting in their pursuit of a more equal society.

The RSA programme "will bring together P2P technology platforms like Airbnb and Beam with inclusive growth stakeholders like Core Cities" - but so far there hasn't been any mention of citizens and community-based networks.

As I wrote earlier, I think that's where the London Networked City initiative could help. This may be through our partner the London Voluntary Service Council, umbrella for 120,000 London groups and organisations, and connections with The Way Ahead initiative that is rethinking London's civil society.

However, we shouldn't restrict the linkage to London. Over the past three months I've been part of a group of RSA Fellows developing an online forum that now has 680 members. We'll be extending our reach through the forum and other systems to more of the RSA's 28,000 Fellows around the world.

Introductions on the Forum already show that the Fellowship has enormous expertise to contribute to RSA projects, and there's recently been some discussion about how to explore some practical collaboration. The Networked Cities project seems an ideal route, so I'll follow up on encouraging conversations about that which I started at the event.

You can see a recording of the public Cities 3.0 event here

David Wilcox

Can progressive tech give us Politics 2.0 - or are we retreating Politics 0.0? Webinar video @GlobalNet21 and @dw2

2 min read

Globalnet21 ran one of their best webinars yet last night where London futurist David Woods gave us his view of a Better Future through Progressive Technology and Digital Transformation.

You can view the video here. David starts about three minutes in, following Francis Sealey's intro. The quality is great because Globalnet have started using Zoom - also my current favourite for one to ones and small groups.

David echoed some of the points made by Geoff Mulgan recently about the way that technology can increase inequality. Add the dimension of changing influence on politics through control of online media and it becomes scary.

David posed the question - can we move towards Politics 2.0 enabled by Web 2.0 ... or are we moving back to a Politics 1.0

He then offered us some ideas on how we might harness the benefits of technology for a better political future.

David's ideas are highly relevant to the meeting this evening on What do you want from the general election, organised by Democracy Matters, Community Sector Coalition and LVSC.

I'm due to make a contribution, and I'm glad to have so much I can refer to.

David Wood has agreed to develop his ideas further with Networked City - so definitely more soon. Meanwhile:

David Wilcox

Exploring how we can contribute to @thersaorg Networked City - adding the citizen and community dimension #RSACities

4 min read

The RSA Networked City initiative - which I wrote about here - got off to a great start last week with a public event and follow-through workshop.

I was particularly interested in how our London Networked City exploration might contribute to the RSA programme … and also how we might benefit from that, since I and others involved in London are RSA Fellows.

The RSA initiative was promoted as Smart City plus Sharing City … with a mix of technology apps and platforms for social, economic and environmental benefits and ways to support cooperation and collaboration.

I think we can contribute by promoting the importance of citizen participation and community building. I tweeted during the public event:

At @thersaorg event on Networked Cities = Sharing City + Smart City. Should be + Participatory City. Otherwise excluding

and received some encouragement

Think David Wilcox's point from audience hits the nail on the head - need more than digital inclusion to involve everyone

— Sufiya Patel (@sufiyapatel) May 18, 2017

We are developing the idea of Connecting Londoners as I've summarised in this note.

We are exploring three linked challenges as services and funding are cut, and the ways that people communicate are changing rapidly:

  • how will Londoners in future find out where to get help for themselves or their families in times of need; find local activities that interest them; share or sell items or services; find opportunities to volunteer; campaign for or against change in their community … and organise projects?
  • how can individuals, groups and organisations make use of the Internet - together with other methods - to cooperate and collaborate more effectively?
  • how can we ensure that those most in need, and most vulnerable, are not excluded by these changes?

... with a range of practical initiatives including mapping, communications, and co-design.

The day after the RSA event I was pleased to hear Geoff Mulgan, chief executive of NESTA, emphasise the importance of both bottom-up and top-down development, as I reported here. Geoff said:

What we have learned - contrary to many expectations 30 or 40 years ago - is that most of the dynamic of digital and indeed the knowledge economy, through most societies, is that it widens disparity, it widens inequalities.

adding:

It is important not to lose sight of that small and sometime very big P political side of what is being talked about - but it requires that the bottom-up and top-down link. It is no good enough just to fetishise either - just fetishising because they are grass roots, if they don’t get access to power and money, any more than it is good to fetishise top down, command and control or directive.

It is when the two combine that you get profound and lasting change in this space.

I think we can build on the previous RSA work on communities, as I said here, and provide a practical testbed in London to apply past experience and new ideas.

RSA could certainly help us by convening joint events, sharing development ideas and hopefully opening some routes to funding. We could apply for some project support through the Catalyst fund.

I found some support for cooperation at the RSA workshop, so I'll explore further and report back.

I'm also sure there's a lot more to be learned from the NESTA Digital Social Innovation programme, and from Cities like Barcelona, as I reported here. London will shortly have a chief digital officer, so I think we should prepare to pitch ideas there. Meanwhile, as Geoff Mulgan said during the DSI event, it is people not clicks that change societies.

Most of the profound change associated with digital technology moves at the speed of culture as much as it does of technology . Most of the things we are talking about here that really matter require changes to how people think, how they feel, how they behave as well as hardware and software.

The networks we need to build for a Networked City are human ones, as much as tech.

David Wilcox

Why digital social innovation requires both bottom-up and top-down - more lessons from #DSInext @Nesta_uk

3 min read

Nesta have provided a full recording of the digital social innovation event that I wrote about here, and it is worth scrolling right to the end to hear chief executive Geoff Mulgan's closing remarks. You'll find them at 7hours 44 mins of the recording.

In the course of his review of the day he makes some profoundly important points about inequality heightened by digital developments, the importance of more skills and capacity in civil society organisations, and joining bottom-up and top-down. He said:

What we have learned - contrary to many expectations 30 or 40 years ago - is that most of the dynamic of digital and indeed the knowledge economy, through most societies, is that it widens disparity, it widens inequalities.

It creates fantastic pockets and hubs of amazing activity in London or Barcelona or Berlin or Copenhagen but actually the distance in terms of life opportunity, income and so on tends to widen, so it is really important that we focus again and again on the social dimension and don’t just celebrate the digital.

We have got a few priorities which are really just about bringing civil society up to speed on what is pretty normal in much of business - and huge, but really quite mundane tasks just around basic skills, basic tools, in the literally millions of civil society organisations across Europe that aren’t using them, and aren’t getting the benefit of them. We need stronger campaigns, institutions, and help to raise the base level.

There is a very big picture in much of what is being talked about today, a very different view of how a state should operate, genuinely with citizens at its core, not just at the end of the line of provision … a very different view of an economy that is genuinely collaboratively enhancing humanity rather than the opposite.

It is important not to lose sight of that small and sometime very big P political side of what is being talked about - but it requires that the bottom-up and top-down link. It is no good enough just to fetishise either - just fetishising because they are grass roots, if they don’t get access to power and money, any more than it is good to fetishise top down, command and control or directive.

It is when the two combine that you get profound and lasting change in this space.

I've pulled the quotes out both because they are, hopefully, an indication of the way that Nesta might prioritise further work in this area, and specifically because they support the way we hope to develop our model of a Networked City.

I'll explore that in the next post about the RSA Network City initiative that I wrote about here.

David Wilcox

Lessons from @Nesta_uk digital social innovation programme #DSInext confirm change depends on cultural shift not just clicks

6 min read

I came away today from NESTA’s digital social innovation event with three main thoughts: there’s lots of exciting projects our there … but they aren’t doing as much good as we hoped … and why can’t we be more like Barcelona?

The event was to launch a report on What’s next for digital social innovation (DSI), following a major research programme, about which lots here:

Big advances in technology – such as the open source and open data movements, low-cost hardware, crowdsourcing and internet of things – provide new ways of delivering public services and delivering social impact in fields as diverse as healthcare, education, democracy, environment, transport and housing. They are particularly well-suited to empowering citizens, involving them in their communities and engaging them in civic action.

We use the term digital social innovation (DSI) to refer to the growing movement of people, projects and organisations using digital technologies to tackle some of society's biggest problems.

We believe that DSI has the potential to dramatically improve the way our public services, communities and businesses work.

There are a lot of projects: the website for the DSI European network features 1890 organisations and 1070 projects, many of them relevant to our exploration into making London a more Networked City, and Connecting Londoners.

But DIS isn’t doing as much good as we hoped, as the report honestly says:

  • Despite this activity, there are relatively few examples of DSI initiatives delivering impact at scale. The growth of DSI is being held back by barriers at the system level and at the level of individual projects.
  • Projects and organisations involved in DSI are still relatively poorly connected to each other. There is a pressing need to grow strong networks within and across countries and regions to boost collaboration and knowledge-sharing.
  • The growth of DSI is being held back by lack of funding and investment across the continent, especially outside Western Europe, and structural digital skills shortages.
  • Civil society organisations and the public sector have been slow to adopt DSI, despite the opportunity it offers them to deliver better services at a lower cost, although there are emerging examples of good practice from across Europe.
  • Practitioners struggle to engage citizens and users, understand and measure the impact of their digital social innovations, and plan for growth and sustainability.

The report has a set of recommendations, including these key points

  • Invest in and enable DSI approaches within existing civil society organisations. Private and public financial support for DSI should not only focus on startups and grassroots organisations, but also on improving digital maturity in established civil society organisations and supporting DSI initiatives within them.
  • Enable peer learning and the spread of best practice.The European Commission should continue to invest in peer learning and knowledge-sharing initiatives, both online and offline. This must happen not only between practitioners but also between funders, policymakers and investors.

These proposals reflected recurrent themes through event: that coming up with digital solutions to social challenges is one thing, but getting adoption by organisations in the field of social good is another; and that encouraging people to share what they have learned is difficult.

And Barcelona? Francesca Bria, Chief Technology and Digital Innovation Officer for the City, wowed everyone with a presentation of their Digital City plan, which you can see here. You may be able to find Francesca at 2hrs 48mins in the recording. The plan covers:

A City in Common
Technology for social change and public sector innovation

  • Develop a public, open and distributed citizen data infrastructure
  • Launch an open standards data collection platform
  • Implement strategies to involve citizens, businesses, communities, organizations, universities and research centers
  • Public administration digital transformation and innovation

Democratic City
Technology for a participatory, collaborative and transparent city

  • Develop and standardize new models of participation in digital environment
  • Technological citizenship sovereignty and digital rights
  • Create a XXI century education and training for life and work
  • Bring emerging technologies closer to citizens to foster a modern, conscious, active and participatory society

Circular City
Technology for a new, more sustainable and efficient urban model

  • Address with sustainability criteria, the most urgent urban problems
  • Reduce the digital gap between the different neighborhoods
  • Share and provide collective access to resources through democratic governance
  • Stimulate the culture of invention and technological innovation

Creative City
Technology to promote invention, entrepreneurship and social innovation

  • Boost a more efficient, transparent and strategic use of public spending
  • Promote public administration innovation, within SMEs and Cooperatives
  • Stimulate the Barcelona network for digital social innovation
  • Foster a more pluralistic digital economy and make a new urban innovation model

Hopefully inspiration for whoever is appointed London's Chief Digital Officer

In concluding remarks, Geoff Mulgan, NESTA chief executive argued for more lobbying to secure funding for digital social innovation - and also urged patience. It is people not clicks that change societies.

Most of the profound change associated with digital technology moves at the speed of culture as much as it does of technology . Most of the things we are talking about here that really matter require changes to how people think, how they feel, how they behave as well as hardware and software.

The day's mix of inspiring examples, and realism about what it takes to being about social change in cities confirmed there's lots for Networked City to learn from the DSI programme and NESTA's other research and project development. But how to bring it into play?

As I wrote yesterday, I'm hoping for cooperation with RSA because of the Cities 3.0 programme.

I hope that NESTA might also be interested because our approach to Connecting Londoners - explained here - could be way to explore how to combine top-down and bottom-up. As Geoff Mulgan emphasised, both are needed to create real social value.

David Wilcox

Discovering how our work on Connecting Londoners can benefit from @thersaorg research into communities #RSACities

4 min read

As I reported here, RSA staff are developing a Networked City initiative which I hope offers scope for collaboration with our Networked City London project.

We didn't know about each other until recently - and that prompted me do a quick scan of past and current RSA research, publications and projects by both staff and Fellows that might also be relevant.

The search revealed a wealth of useful content about Connected Communities and other topics from the Action Research Centre and other sources.

It's particularly relevant as we shift our attention to Connecting Londoners - as I've summarised in this note.

We are exploring three linked challenges as services and funding are cut, and the ways that people communicate are changing rapidly:

  • how will Londoners in future find out where to get help for themselves or their families in times of need; find local activities that interest them; share or sell items or services; find opportunities to volunteer; campaign for or against change in their community … and organise projects?
  • how can individuals, groups and organisations make use of the Internet - together with other methods - to cooperate and collaborate more effectively?
  • how can we ensure that those most in need, and most vulnerable, are not excluded by these changes?

I've dropped examples of RSA work into a Google doc which you can view here and pulled out the main links below to offer a taster.

As Paul Vittles reports here, a group of us have been developing an RSA Fellows Forum. That's already providing some new opportunities to connect Fellows and staff.

RSA senior researcher Brhmie Balaram has kindly invited me to a workshop following their public launch on Networked Cities and offered to join in discussion on the Forum.

Meanwhile here's a few of the RSA resources about communities that I found.

Connected Communities and Citizen Power

Public services and local government

Inclusive growth commission

Fellow-led projects - a few examples

London as a city of communities, by Matthew Taylor

A city of communities? In a set of essays about London 2050 Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA, argues that the capital’s strength will depend upon its communities and their connections. So, in 2050 ...

Every community would have a story about how its own internal social capital makes it stronger, more resilient and creative but also how it is a doorway to the world with street neighbours helping each other reach out to both geographical and non-geographical networks of people around the world.