SOAPBOX – GovCampConnect unconference returns on 2 September to Narrow Water Castle

Stevan Barry, Brian Cleland and Jonny McCullagh are organising the GovCampConnect unconference in September.

Slugger is a great forum for those of us with an interest in the tempestuous politics of this particular part of the world. But many of the things that irritate us most about government have little to do with political parties, and more to do with the mechanics of public service delivery.

Indeed, something we have in common with the rest of the world is the frustration that the public sector is so far behind the private sector in its ability to improve itself by embracing new technologies.

There is much speculation about the reasons: is it due to risk aversion and a lack of competition, or simply about the difficulty of creating efficiencies in labour-intensive sectors? At the same time others argue that it is only a matter of time before government is transformed by the wave of digital innovation that is disrupting industries world-wide.

Fortunately some evidence already exists about the potential for government to transform itself. And many of the leading champions of digital government are based in the UK. In Great Britain, a grassroots community has sprung up around this potentially transformative phenomenon and at its heart are “GovCamps” – community-led “unconferences” where people who are interested in this sort of thing come together to network and share their insights.

Last year GovCamp came to the island of Ireland for the first time with GovCampConnect organised in the beautiful mock gothic Narrow Water Castle near Warrenpoint.

Unconferences are not like a typical business event. They are entirely user-generated, with the agenda created on the day, with anybody free to propose to speak about any topic related to the main theme. GovCampConnect 2016 featured talks on such diverse matters as smart cities, open decision-making, the importance of failure, open data in health, and how to sell to the public sector.

The inaugural event was such a great success that we’re doing it all again in a few weeks time on 2nd September. We’re even running a free bus from Belfast to make it easier for people to attend!

So if you’re interested in how government can be transformed by technology or you’d like to discuss topics like open data, citizen engagement, public sector use of social media, smart cities, or government as a platform, you can find out more information and register on our website.