On Monday we had a full house at the Brighthelm Centre for CityCamp 2.5 to discuss digital inclusion. Starting with presentations from Paul Sweeting from Brighton and Hove Advice Partnership (link to Paul’s presentation here); Paul Colbran, Chief Information Officer/Head of ICT at Brighton and Hove City Council and Catherine Howe Chief Executive of Public i (link to Catherine’s presentation here) which gave us an overview of the current state of the digital city. People then proposed discussions for the rest of the day and the agenda looked like this. The day finished off with reports back on what was discussed and pledges turning that into actions. Thank you to Bert for taking the photos and thank you to everyone who came and contributed to make it such an interesting day.
Reaching the hard to reach With welfare reforms we need look at people’s needs and interests and how digital media might help. The scale of benefit changes is massive. But we also need to deal with feelings of apathy. With refugee and migrant workers the only engagement that works is face to face. Digital work works when supported by a relationship of trust and the person who sends the message is based on a trusting relationship
- To set up an ‘Inclusion Doorstep Squad’ to help people understand the changes to benefits and rights and establish what digital issues (skills, knowledge and threats they face)
- To connect with as many community groups as possible
Social housing and digital inclusion Give staff from council, community groups, volunteers the skills to pass on. Have digital champions out and about – promoting digital inclusion. Use the infrastructure that exists such as digital tv aerials. Is it possible to use Carelink alarm links? Library service – Council Connect – lots not heard about free service to access the internet – use it or lose it. Crowd funding – crowd funding platform to raise money for community projects (SpaceHive) It would be useful to have a directory of services that are available now for workers so they can pass on information.
- If you are out and about and engaging with people – help them to get an email account
- Promoting council connect
- Set up a Directory
What’s Metro wifi about? This was a session explaining how citywide wifi would work. There were no pledges.
BME and new communities Need real communication and trust before we begin with digital communication. We need to become a trusted source of information There are particular barriers faced by migrant communities, particularly those with insecure immigration status. There is not a lack of skills and expertise in migrant communities – they use these technologies eg for communication to family elsewhere in the world.
Democracy and politics Discussion of the nature of power and politics and how to increase participation and get more people involved. But be more wary about just hearing the majority voice. We need to listen to minority voices as well. Is democracy about votes or about collaborative leading to consensus?
- Make progress with neighbourhood councils more visible
- Constructive support for these projects is more likely to make them democratic
- When making decisions we want information decisions can be made in an intelligent way
- Briefing for people taking first democratic steps online – how to do it (could Demsoc do this?)
- Take part in Police and Crime Commissioner elections
Social networking for the elderly Discussion of what a network is, a social network, open or closed? Ideas of projects were discussed from showing people how to use Skype to more complicated things. Stressed the difference between talking and doing
- To set up something similar to Digital Education Brighton for anyone interested in things for the elderly – elderly, support workers, companies with products etc can sign up and run sessions. Sign up and we will have first meeting next month
Future of Local media Local media is changing profoundly and can’t fix local newspapers. We need something so that everybody finds out what is going on. An open and inclusive community conversation to inform decision making
- A lot of people are already online talking about the community and we should look at again at finding out what is going on already
- See how inclusive it is and then seek out the voices that aren’t out there
- Turn that into a persistent resource to be an effective, critical friend of decisions but still being part of the community.
Council services and access The conversation was around the council’s customer promise to be easy to reach. They aim to maintain service through lots of methods eg; phone, letter, online. Some services are good online and some are not and they need to be careful about how to manage that. And look at the people and the way they like to use services. No one size fits all and sometimes we do need a face to face discussion Use existing infrastructure and physical networks like the libraries. Council officers need to be less risk adverse. They worry a lot about doing things right and should sometimes think about doing things differently How do we include democratic feedback into council priorities and council principles? What is the driver for services? Cost? Excellence? Customer service? need? We need to share experiences and see how other councils and community and voluntary groups have done things to give the best service for residents
- Everyone to give feedback on council services
- We will listen and respond in a better way and maybe have a ‘meet your council officers day’
Pleasure not pressure People should go online for pleasure not because they feel pressured to. Ask what people are interested in and show people these things online. Examples given were poetry and gardening. It may be a one off experience or a lifelong love but there is nothing lost. No one should be forced to be online but we should provide help to those who are disadvantaged by not being online. There is a responsibility on the rest of us to keep them included. Some people don’t care that they lost money – they would rather be offline than save the money. They feel that the internet is a sterile invasion of their privacy. This is an exercise in humanity and the interaction between people. An important relationship is the interaction between grandchildren and grandparents
- Help friends and family online and with online things.
- Campaign for access to the internet should be a human right
Community run wifi Future of the internet is 4G and this will need expensive new kit But it is about making it affordable to people. Came up with the term #comunifi which is about sharing wifi networks within a community
- Set up a meeting to look at piloting a simple initiative to share internet access between houses
Role Community and Voluntary Sector and Communities Discussion of the use of digital inclusion to reduce service user isolation and the role of community and voluntary sector. There is a need to increase the skills of community and voluntary practitioners to help with this.
- To explore a cross sector network on digital inclusion, collaboration and crowdsourcing issues and ideas.
And the next steps? We will encourage people to come back and report on progress with pledges at the monthly meet ups (usually third Thursday of the month), and share progress and experiences on the blog. And we will be following and offering help where needed.