“open source is where I think the future is headed in local government…”

So, I’m in Dublin tomorrow for the OGP Europe Regional conference in Dublin in advance of next week’s Digital Lunch asking if Northern Ireland is ready for an open government partnership? If you are interesting in the subject, do keep an eye on Twitter throughout the day, and I’ll update with a blog report on Friday morning before I leave again.

Thinking in practical terms regarding Northern Ireland it strikes me that one area which could be wide open for new and innovative engagement with their equally new (and, erm, slightly bewildered electorates) are the new council areas set up under RPA.

So from the US,Mark Dixon speaks on the challenges and opportunities facing local government in the US, talks about archaic institutions history and the maintenance nightmare of software infrastructure… With a great line buried in there, “now we’ve run out of money, we gotta think…”

I love the fact we’re doing a lot of work on open data and open source that’s where I think the future is headed in local government. It’s already happened in higher education. I think gaming and simulation on a regional basis and regional clouds is where we’re going to need to go.

You can watch the whole four minute here:

In order to gauge interest amongst local civil society in making this happen, theBuilding Change Trust is organising a seminar on OGP on Friday 16th May in Belfast, entitled ‘The Open Government Partnership – a Path to Transparency, Accountability and Participation in Northern Ireland?’.

There will be a keynote input by Tim Hughes from Involve, who is Coordinator of the UK Open Government Partnership Civil Society Network, there will be additional contributions from TASC IrelandAmnesty International‘s Patrick Corrigan andProfessor Rick Wilford from Queen’s University Belfast, as well as a range of local VCSE sector representatives.

You can register for the Belfast seminar, which is free and open to all, here.

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  • Mc Slaggart

    Why the US speaker?

    We are in Europe with a greater understanding how to do this!1

    You could even get a gust speaker from the pirate party2



  • Or ask the Swedes.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Estonia is also worth looking at.

    They do have a way to go for open data but their use of the computing technology is outstanding.

  • Mick Fealty

    Bring them on people… the more the merrier… I just though his idea that local government in the US is becoming disrupted and unsustainably fragmented was a good fit with our (imagined) post RPA landscape…

  • aquifer

    Data transparency has a lot to offer in terms of accountability.

    No reason why we should not see how the Westminster subvention is being spent at the click of a button.

  • One thing worth looking at would be to use the internet for voting. I have been able to do that twice in our local council elections and think it could be expanded with the necessary safeguards (I get a code in the mail) to get the numbers of people engaging up.

  • Mc Slaggart


    “Data transparency has a lot to offer in terms of accountability.”

    It is information that you need. The world is increasing driven by data out of context.

  • Brian Walker

    What is emerging from the conference and what specifically is the UK saying? Any contributions? Hardly high powered if the best they could do is send someone from the Speaker’s office. You wouldn’t know that the last conference was held in London and was associated with G8.

    “Open data” is indeed part of Cameron’s programme. Last year he boasted about this initiative and the reforms in the NHS and elsewhere in the public service to change the culture radically over the treatment of whistleblowers. Quote:

    “We need to shine a spotlight on who owns what and where money is really flowing. This summer at the G8 we committed to do just that: to establish a central register of company beneficial ownership. And today I’m delighted to announce that not only is that register going to go ahead, but it’s also going to be open to the public….
    This is, I believe, a complete world first on transparency and I’m proud that Britain is leading the way. And today I call on the rest of the world to join us on this journey.


    I can understand that this subject is the natural consequence of the digital revolution and a stage along from FoI which governments are still absorbing. My ignorance of it is wide and deep but it seems to be so visionary, vague and aspirational that it’s still like punching marshmallow Not as crucial or newly controversial as climate change but just as prone to general pieties and slow development.

    . In the Republic how does it link up to the themes of government practice and the recommendations of the constitutional convention? One can see implications in the Guerin report. How is Open Government reconciled to the commitment of governments to rein in the likes of Wikileaks and protect commercial confidentiality for public and private partnerships – just two of the thorny issues ? For Northern Ireland, I’d also like to know how much of government authority in this area is devolved. Is there anybody there who knows?

  • Mick Fealty

    I think I agree with most of that Brian. In fact transparency is most obvious in its absence. That’s one of the reasons I made the point about the Georgian Minister of Justice in my right up yesterday.

    That is one country that certainly understands the downside of secrecy.

  • Mick Fealty


    I’m intrigued by what you mean when you say driven by data out of context? Certainly once you put it outside the walls of the buildings of any institution, it can be said to be ‘out of context’.

    Is this what you mean?

  • Mc Slaggart


    ” outside the walls of the buildings of any institution,”

    Even inside an institution. The reason why British car manufacturing is no longer owned by the British is they had Accountants looking at there spreadsheets. The Germans had Engineers looking at their spreadsheets and coming up with completely different “information”.