I’ve just seen that the MyPolice project has moved a bit further forward with the launch of their new beta site. As an idea, it’s been brewing for a while and Lauren Currie outlined some of the thinking behind it (and where it could lead) here on Slugger as part of the Political Innovation essay series a few months ago.
It’s an example of what the Personal Democracy Forum’s Micah Sifry refers to as ‘WeGov’ – one of a wider set of developments that strike me as both gamechanging for, and baffling to elected politicians.
It’s gamechanging insofar as it offers the possibility to break out of the tensions that arise from public dissatisfaction with representative democracy without tipping into the hellish pit that is direct democracy. It offers a space for the kind of conversation that politicians can find useful: One that isn’t dominated by the providers of a public service (in this case, Dibble), but also one that seeks quick light observations from the public that can be answered openly.
It offers the possibility of discussions that aren’t dominated by either the shrill agendas of pressure groups or the rigid negotiated positions that political parties feel the need to adopt.
But the real opportunity (and this seems to be doubly true in Northern Ireland) may be to take the control of the conversation out of the hands of the permanent officials. To remove a lot of the framing that passes for consultation.
Could such a tool be useful in Northern Ireland? Could it prove an asset to the elected members of the Policing Board? There already appears to be an interest in improved feedback loops….