We have the opportunity to help one organisation in Europe set up and run their own Freedom of Information website. Could you be that organisation?

The background

Thanks to ongoing funding from Adessium, we’ve been working with a number of partners right across Europe to set up new Alaveteli websites, and upgrade existing ones with the Pro functionality. The ultimate aim is to increase the quality, quantity and simplicity of European and cross-border Freedom of Information based investigations.

So far we’ve helped organisations in France and Netherlands to launch their own sites, and we’ve added Pro to AskTheEU, Belgium, Sweden and Czechia.

Now we have space to provide technical help and support for one more organisation who would like to launch their own brand new Alaveteli site.

What would that involve?

Running an Alaveteli website is no light undertaking, we’ll be the first to admit it. While we can help you with all the technicalities of getting the site up and launched, there is an ongoing commitment for the recipient organisation, who will need to factor in significant time to administer it, moderate content and help users.

On the plus side, we have masses of experience that will get you set off on the right footing; we’ll do most of the technical stuff for you; and there’s a global community of other people running Alaveteli sites who are always quick to offer friendly advice when you need it.

OK, sounds good – can we apply?

There’s just one important detail: we’re looking for organisations in European countries or jurisdictions where there isn’t already an existing Alaveteli site. Take a quick look at our deployments page to see whether your country is already on the list.

That’s the main requirement — but there are also a few details that the ideal organisation would fulfil.

  • So that you understand the service you’d be offering to citizens, you’d already have transparency or freedom of information as a remit or strand of your work
  • You might include some people with at least some basic technical or coding skills amongst your workforce;
  • You’ll have a source of income (or plans for to secure one) that will allow you to keep running the site after we’ve got you all set up.

We’re looking to start work in April, with a probable build phase that would take us to December 2021. All work is conducted remotely, and we’d have regular check-ins with you via video call to keep you updated.

We’d then give you all the support you needed in the first few months after your site’s launch, then from March 2022, you’d be all set to take the training wheels off — although, as we say, we and the rest of the Alaveteli community would be around to offer help and advice on an ongoing basis.

Right, that’s everything — so it only remains to say that if you’re still interested, please get in touch to have an initial chat. Or, if you know any organisations that might be a good fit for this opportunity, please send them the link to this post.

Alaveteli sites launched or upgraded in 2020

Banner image: Gia Oris

Original source – mySociety

camera photography copyright advice.png

A lot has changed in our industry over the past 20-years in terms of using other people’s images. But one thing remains, crediting the originator and getting permission is still the right thing to do?

by John Fox

I admin Facebook’s ‘Abandoned Sutherland & Caithness’ community. One member has recently contacted me, somewhat naively it must be said, lamenting the fact that people have pinched pictures she’s posted there and not acknowledged her creativity and the image’s origin when reusing or posting elsewhere.

Whilst I commiserated with her I also said:

The only way that you can guarantee that your work will not be stolen, or used without your permission at all, is to never post or upload your images anywhere on the internet.

Watermarks are frequently used by photographers who want to get their name out there and/or who aspire to prevent the theft or unauthorised use of their intellectual property, and that’s entirely understandable. 

But a watermark does not stop anyone from stealing their image, nor can it guarantee that their name will gain greater exposure if their images are shared. Rather, watermarks only degrade the quality of their work as they are most often not designed correctly, and are an obstruction to the pleasure of viewing the image itself.

Issue raised, it prompted me to look to see if there are any Facebook guidelines on reuse of images, or guidance for group administrators on this sensitive issue. I’ve not been able to find anything suitable.

Can you help?

Does anyone have any suggestions for communicating of information about re-use (sharing) of images posted in an online community such that it actually changes mindsets and behaviours?

I’ve got Facebook’s T&Cs on posting copyrighted material covered, but they don’t tackle sharing. 

You can contact John at john.fox@me.com and on Twitter at @x333xxx

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

Laptop screen showing a GOV.UK page titled “Control how we use information about you”

A GOV.UK Account is a way of making online interactions with government easier, simpler and more efficient, as we recently blogged about. Part of this work will involve the collection and use of our users’ personal data, which leads to valid concerns and questions about our approach to data use and privacy. We want to be open in our thinking about this. This blog post explains our work on privacy and GOV.UK accounts so far.

Privacy by design

We want to use privacy principles to make sure that data privacy is an integral part of the design process. This is commonly referred to as a “privacy by design” approach and essentially means that we are thinking about data privacy problems and solutions from the earliest stages of the design process. We are also examining and addressing various ethical considerations throughout the process using the Data Ethics Framework. This enables us to build privacy-friendly features in the most efficient way.

Our guiding privacy principles

UK law provides a baseline of things we must do and must not do, and we go into more detail below on that, but we’ve also been looking beyond our legal obligations. We’ve been thinking about how we want the GOV.UK Account to operate from an ethical point of view – doing the right thing for individuals. So at an early stage, we developed a set of data privacy principles which we use to guide and inform the design of a GOV.UK account.

1. Put users first

When developing the GOV.UK Account, we make sure that the data privacy expectations of our users are front and centre. So when we design the product’s features we consider the potential privacy impact they could cause for our users. We then identify the steps we need to take to minimise that impact.

2. Give users control over how their data is processed

This is key to a privacy-friendly approach and to enabling us to cater for the full spectrum of user needs and preferences – from those users that want to share as little information as possible to those that want to share more to get that personalised experience. We give users the choice of saving information to their account, to opt in or out of cookies and email notifications, and we also enable users to access, update and delete their data.

3. Keep users informed

We aim to be as transparent as possible about how a GOV.UK account uses personal data. That’s why we’re writing blog posts on our work and why at the start of the sign-up process we have included a clear summary on the use of personal data. This page provides an overview of the key points we think users should know but also links to the full GOV.UK accounts privacy notice should users want to know more.

4. Limit what data is used

We only collect and process personal data where there is a genuine need and a clear purpose, and when we do, we strive to use as little personal data as possible. We carefully consider what data is actually needed for a GOV.UK account to function, which then determines what data we ask our users for. For example, for the trial account we’re running on the Brexit Transition Checker, we only need an email address, which becomes your username, and a telephone number for additional security, so that’s all we asked for.

We use reports based on a version of GOV.UK accounts data which has had all personal identifiers removed to help us improve the account. These reports do not directly identify any GOV.UK account holders, but instead can show trends in use such as how many account users are students.

5. Keep information secure

We take security seriously and any information a user submits is securely held. We have put in place security measures that defend against the kinds of threats that GOV.UK accounts could face. For example, all data is encrypted between us and a user’s web browser using HTTPS, a secondary security code is required to log into an account, and accounts lock out after a set number of failed login attempts. Access to user data is strictly restricted to the service team, when there is a clear business need. There are rigorous data security controls in place where this need arises. These measures will be continuously re-assessed as the GOV.UK account develops.

6. Seek oversight and consultation

We ensure that the development of the GOV.UK Account is subject to internal oversight and governance. For example, we engage accountable risk owners and the Cabinet Office Data Protection Officer (DPO) via our Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) processes. We also value external views of the work we’re doing and we speak to users through our user research work and to organisations like the National Cybersecurity Centre and the Privacy and Consumer Advisory Group.

Legal compliance

All our work is compliant with data protection law. We conduct DPIAs to gauge our compliance and to help us identify potential issues or problem areas where we may have further work to do.

What’s next

It’s important to emphasise that when browsing GOV.UK information will never be locked behind a login. An account will give users who want a more personalised experience the opportunity to do so.

While this is an overview of our work on privacy and the GOV.UK Account, you can read more details of what data we collect and how it is actually used in the full GOV.UK Accounts Privacy Notice.

As discussed in principle 6, we are keen to hear from our users. If you want to get in touch about privacy and GOV.UK accounts, please email the team on gds-privacy-office@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk.

Original source – Inside GOV.UK

On 18 January we received a letter from Robert Largan MP regarding our parliamentary site TheyWorkForYou. He requested that we ‘correct a misrepresentation’ in the way that the site displays how he and his fellow MPs have voted on measures to prevent climate change:

The letter was co-signed by around 50 members of his party, and identified three votes not currently included in our climate change vote calculations, with the request that they be taken into account on their voting records pages.

This was not an unusual message: we often receive emails from MPs to TheyWorkForYou, asking us to explain or reconsider the data we publish on them — and the most common subject is the voting records pages.

The only differences with this letter were that Mr Largan had gathered the support of so many other MPs; and that it was covered in the press and shared on Twitter quite a few days before we actually had receipt of it. 

So we’ve treated it in the same way that we would any other, but given the amount of exposure the issue has already had, we thought we’d also share our considered response here. We’re glad to have this opportunity to illustrate how we run the site, and the judgements that we have to make in order to run the fairest, most factual service we can.

 

Image: UK Parliament

Original source – mySociety

If you’re working in public sector communications seven months into the COVID-19 outbreak your mental health is suffering, a survey shows.

Almost seven in ten of government, fire, police, NHS and local government communicators say their mental health is worse now than before the pandemic struck.

The data from a survey of almost 300 communicators carried out in October and November 2020 show the long term effects of working under pressure is starting to tell.

However, almost eight out of 10 reported that they still feel as though they are working for the common good – an increase of three per cent compared to June 2020.

In truth, the results are alarming.

But the hidden downsides to the work are increasing. Feeling isolated are 47 per cent of respondants – up from 34 per cent in June.

In addition, 53 per cent said their physical health was worse compared to before the pandemic.

Feedback given anonymously in the survey is also disturbing.

“I do find that I feel anxious about work. I feel stressed constantly looking at everything as a task and feeling failure if not done quickly.”

“My line manager hardly checks in to see if I am ok, the workload has increased and I can’t see an end to it currently.”

“COVID has been my introduction to anxiety. And its getting worse as the months go on, and the professional pressure keeps rising.”

fig 1. How is your mental health compared to working before the pandemic?

Positives remain

However, data collected in October and November do point to a communicators believing in what they were doing. There has been a three per cent increase to 77 per cent of people who feel they are working for the common good.

In addition, 45 per cent of communicators felt as though they were working as part of a team.

So, what does this mean?

When I first surveyed public sector communicators in June it was as a one-off but this has now developed into a tracker survey to plot the progress as the panedmic goes on.

In truth, the results are alarming.

On the surface, people often get through their day and their tasks but this is coming at a price.

I’m no expert, but if you are feeling stressed then ask for help.

If you are a manager, a head of communications or a director of communications this needs to be something you look at. Your staff believe in what they are doing but they are suffering.

The NHS has a good web page with resources here. You are not alone. The survey shows this and the chances are there are people in your team feeling the same. You could also contact Samaritanscall: 116 123 or email: jo@samaritans.org if you need someone to talk to.

Original source – The Dan Slee Blog » LOCAL SOCIAL: Is it time for a Local localgovcamp?

Hi, I’m Sat, FutureGov’s new CTO.

I’ve been working with FutureGov since March 2020, officially moving into the CTO role on the first of October last year. Previously, I was CTO of a design and technology consultancy called RMA Consulting, leading a team that designed and built bespoke user-centred computer systems. We worked with banks, insurance, healthcare, media and the energy sector, and I’ve always worked very closely with design teams.

Well designed technology enables transformation

I’m incredibly interested and passionate about how humans interact with each other and how we interact with technology. It has a unique power to make our lives better and more efficient, and it can even help us do our jobs better. But if designed poorly it can also overwhelm us and get in the way of making and actioning decisions.

By taking a human-centred approach to technology, not only can we create delightful solutions that help people do things more easily, we can also build new models to deliver better public services. Further innovation can be achieved by considering how we organise ourselves in organisations. Our technology architectures are, after all, shaped by the organisations they are created for.

People often think of well-designed technology as the veneer, in terms of it looking good. However, it’s not just that. Well designed products might look good, but just as important, if not more important, is how it behaves. How intuitively does it let us discover what we need and enable us to make and action decisions — whenever and wherever we need to.

Great technology builds trust with users by providing us with what we need, not just by looking pretty. Providing transformative experiences for people goes all the way from the back-end to the front-end (the user interface) and includes data, including how we turn plentiful data into wisdom and insight.

The future of technology at FutureGov

When I started looking for a new role, it was important that it be something with meaning. I wanted a role that I could be passionate about and deliver valuable change to society.

I’ve done lots of private sector work and one of the big draws to FutureGov was the type of work we do. The focus, the ethos and critically, the mission. The work we do every day is worth it, because we create great things that are helping build a better world. We’re really forward-looking, and that’s so important.

At FutureGov, I want to create a different type of practice, team and organisation model. Moving forward, we’re looking to develop the technology practice to complement the capabilities we have within the team already. We’re fantastic at service design and consulting and we’ve got a great tech team, as well. But it’s a small team and we’d like to grow that.

Over the coming months we’ll be building teams focused on Technology Consulting, Technology Delivery and Product Management. These teams will work closely with our designers, consultants and delivery managers to deliver real impact for our partners, in alignment with our vision.

In terms of the sector, I’d like to bring independent technology consulting to our partners. This means providing a truly impartial view of technology solutions, and starting with the service or product we’re creating and selecting the appropriate architecture and technologies for it.

We can design a great service blueprint or product, but unless you can make that a reality, you’ll continue to stumble through legacy services and technology. We want to not only assist our partners with technology development, strategy, capabilities and the transition to more agile ways of working, but also help them build their own practice that’s design-driven and user-centred so they can continue growing their ambitions once we’re gone.

That’s the crucial thing for me, going from idea through to tangible reality. A real thing, a real impact, helping create real and long-lasting change.

My next steps will be building out the capability within the team to take our partners on that complete journey, from beginning to end. And I’m really looking forward it.


Welcoming Sat Ubhi, our new CTO was originally published in FutureGov on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – FutureGov

Graphic of a computer screen with the innovation ebook pictured on the screen

Our innovation eBook is available to download for free today

Innovation is vital for any business or government department, and we’ve seen DWP innovating more than ever before over the past ten months as we’ve looked to respond to the coronavirus crisis. It’s not surprising then that large organisations everywhere are looking at new ways to foster new ideas.

An innovation lab is a tool we’re seeing used extensively in both the public and private sector with a recent study finding that 89% of respondents that had an innovation programme had put in place an innovation lab.

What is an innovation lab?

If you’re not familiar with an innovation lab, you may be forgiven for asking exactly what it involves, especially for a government department like ours where there’s a huge amount of innovation happening throughout the organisation already.

Put simply, it’s ‘a framework for rapidly generating ideas and turning them into value within the organisation’. Alongside this, I believe that an innovation lab should also aim to achieve the following:

  • Bring diverse and external thinking into the business
  • ‘Hothouse’ new solutions, generating ideas and turning them into value
  • Incubate a culture of innovation throughout the organisation

Having worked in ventures, start-ups and setting up innovation labs in the private sector, setting up DWP’s Innovation Lab when I joined the department at the start of 2020 represented a new set of challenges as well as opportunities.

Back in September I spoke at the Digital Government conference about innovation and the experience we have had of setting up the DWP Innovation Lab.

In the talk I outlined 8 ‘rules’ for anyone looking to go through a similar process or anyone looking to add more innovative thinking to their business or department.

Our innovation eBook

A graphic of a wooden Trojan horse in front of a computer screen displaying computer code

Innovation is important for any organisation or business

We’ve used those 8 rules as the inspiration for an eBook on innovation that we’re now offering to anyone to download and enjoy. The idea behind the ebook is to share our thoughts on the topic of innovation and to give some examples of how they’ve worked within our department.

My colleagues in the Innovation Lab and I came up with these slightly tongue in cheek rules as a way to download our experiences and learnings of what an innovation lab can be.

It’s also a way for us to join a conversation around innovation with other people, to share our ideas and to get some feedback on what we can do to improve.

To give you an idea of what’s included in the ebook, I’ve included the first rule here as a taster.

Our 8 rules for innovation are not a magic solution that will work across any organisation and I’m sure we don’t have all the answers, but I’m hoping that there’s some tips that will be relevant for all.

1. Do you really want to innovate?

This might sound like a stupid question – of course you want to innovate – but it’s important to ask yourself ‘does my organisation have the right incentives in place to make innovation work?’

You may find that there isn’t really a culture of risk for trying something new. Or it might be that you just want to do things a little more efficiently – that’s great but it’s not what an innovation lab is for.

The culture of a business is so important here – there’s a saying that ‘culture eats strategy’ and that’s certainly the case with innovation. An organisation needs to actively foster a culture of valuing new ideas and a willingness to challenge them.

That’s why it’s critical to identify senior sponsors, and to build an open and vocal commitment to a culture of innovation.

I hope that you find this eBook useful, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the ideas we’ve outlined. One area that’s so important if you want innovation to flourish is to engage with the broader community and invite those other voices into your conversation.

Download our innovation eBook today

Find out more about our innovation eBook and download from our Careers site.

 

Original source – DWP Digital

A recent PWC UK research report stated that only 5% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women, proving that there is still a huge gender gap in the technology industry. Despite an ever-growing number of interventions that address gender disparity, unfortunately the wider figures of women employed in technology has been hovering around 17% for more than a decade. So why hasn’t this changed? And what can we do to help at the MoJ?

Ultimately it all starts small, and with each individual. Approached with respect and open mindedness, asking questions and talking to colleagues in your own team, means that the complexity of diversity won’t be so complex after all. To help, I’m leading on an initiative called Women in Tech within the MoJ, which offers a platform for the following:

Inform

We will be releasing a series of blogs about Women in Technology where we’ll be discussing issues, stereotypes and narratives at hand that we often hide away from fear of saying something ‘politically incorrect’. Becoming conscious and responsive to these topics is incredibly appreciated for colleagues within minority groups. Self-awareness and openness to learn in the workplace is inherently valuable for the positive evolution of our workforce. Let’s get comfortable with how to talk about diversity at work.

Inclusive

Everyone should be able to show emotions, regardless of your gender, and neither gender should have an advantage when it comes to careers. Driving equality is fairly simple – it needs a little patience, respect and understanding. This won’t happen overnight, but you just have to be willing to observe and chat about your own cultural and personal perspectives. Ideally, we will end up in a place where we are curious and courageous enough to ask others about theirs as well.

Inspire

In the coming weeks, we’ll be hosting ‘Lightning Talks’ at the MoJ, where we will be engaging with and celebrating some fabulous successful women in the digital and technology industry, and I’ll be sharing some of those insights in the coming blogs.

The UK’s future pipeline of technology talent is heavily skewed towards men and the above report showed that just 3% of females say a career in technology is their first choice, so I hope the work we’re doing in Women in Tech here at the MoJ will inspire a wider audience further than just the MoJ, resulting in more females to consider a career in technology.

Watch this space…

Gender equality is not just a female fight, the bigger picture is showing us we need to rally together to diversify the industry and celebrate our differences. Our work and upcoming blogs will be representative of what we are trying to promote – inclusive, inspiring and informative. What a better place to play your part than in a department that fundamentally stands for justice and equality.

Original source – MOJ Digital & Technology

A sticky note reading "How can GDS help?" stuck on a poster with the Government Digital Service (GDS) logo.

The whole of government has just been through a Spending Review (SR) process, which is where departments work with the Treasury to outline the work they want to do over the coming year (or sometimes multiple years) and to get the money to do this.

Spending Reviews are an opportunity for us to look to the future and to ensure that – among continuing technological and societal changes – digital government can continue to meet user needs.

At GDS, our role is to lead the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) function across government, working with cross-functional partners including the Government Security Group and the Government Commercial Function. At Spending Review time this means working with digital teams across departments to help them best make their case to the Treasury – and also to help Treasury teams understand where they need to invest money.

This is particularly important because we know there are foundational challenges that all departments face – issues like dealing with legacy technology, protecting against cybersecurity breaches and making the best use of the data they have.

These are common challenges where a cross-government approach can help to identify effective, efficient solutions. They are also areas where we can provide subject-matter expertise to help the Treasury identify priorities and to work out which projects to fund.

So, in the run-up to the Spending Review we worked with departments to assure and support their bids to the Treasury and to look for join-ups or areas of overlap. In doing this, we helped the Treasury prioritise over £600 million in funding over the next year to tackle vital legacy technology issues.

Here’s how we brought a cross-government approach to this year’s Spending Review.

Getting a cross-government view of digital

Working with a team comprising colleagues across Cabinet Office, GDS, the Government Security Group and the Government Commercial Service, we brought together a panel of experts from different areas to assess departmental Spending Review proposals. As well as DDaT experts this included specialists from the Commercial and Security functions and senior representatives from the Treasury and the Digital Economy Council. We wanted to ensure we could bring the right insight and fully support departments.

Following these sessions we worked with colleagues from across the Cabinet Office to analyse the findings and to present recommendations to Treasury teams, to help them work out where best to target funding. Doing this meant that –  for the first time – we were able to provide a cross-government view of digital work, spending and priorities.

Enabling targeted funding

As a result of this assurance process, and work that had gone into developing a cross-governmental approach to issues such as legacy technology before that, the Treasury was able to prioritise areas of critical risk and opportunity and target spending towards them. Working with GDS, the Treasury has also updated its business case guidance for agile digital and IT projects, which aims to help departments secure resources for the Discovery and Alpha phases of projects.

Through the SR the Treasury has allocated over £600 million across government towards addressing critical legacy technology issues. This includes an additional £268 million for HMRC, £232 million for the Home Office, £40 million for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and £64 million for the Department for Education.

This investment will reduce the risk of failures, improve efficiency and ultimately lead to a better service for the public. Treasury officials say it would not have been possible to identify all this legacy spend without the insights produced by the assurance process – which would have meant continued risk of failures and legacy technology continuing to block plans for digital transformation.

Our plans for ongoing assurance

The DDaT assurance process has demonstrated the value of expert advice and support to identify and articulate challenges across departments and to help the Treasury prioritise funding. We’ve been able to build a picture of DDaT proposals, priorities and spending across government.

Departments have told us that they found the support from the process extremely valuable. Tom Read, currently Chief Digital and Information Officer at MoJ and soon to join GDS as Chief Executive, who attended an assurance session, says: "The sessions had just the right balance of holding departments to account and supporting in a collaborative way. Although we’ve worked hard to highlight the importance of investing in digital, technology and security, the concerted effort from the Cabinet Office has been invaluable."

To build on this, GDS is now developing detailed proposals for what an ongoing assurance process of departmental priorities might look like, working with colleagues from across the DDaT, Security and Commercial functions, as well as the Treasury. Spending reviews are known events that we plan for constantly, especially when many DDaT projects run for multiple years, from design through to decommissioning.

We will develop our assurance process so that it is easy for departments and Treasury to take advantage of, and so that as many departments as possible can be involved.

We hope that, by doing this, we can ensure that DDaT insights and assurance become part of the normal operating model for Cabinet Office and the Treasury, and can ensure that the right challenges continue to get the right funding.

Original source – Government Digital Service

Hey, pop-pickers.

It struck me this morning that I haven’t blogged about the online training I’m doing for a while so here’s a heads-up of some new dates I’ve posted.

The ESSENTIAL COMMS SKILLS BOOSTER is five different blocks each of an hour in length delivered online so they fit more easily into busy days. It’s designed to be a crash course in the things you’ll need to get to grips with 2021.

The five elements

MEDIA LANDSCAPE AND COMMS PLANNING. The landscape is changing and its useful to know how people are consuming content. What worked last year may not mean it works this year. You may not know that WhatsApp is now the third largest channel in the UK.

CREATING CONTENT AND UNDERSTANDING THE ALGORITHM. It’s fine to create content but what if it goes against the algorithm? It won’t reach as many people. You may not know that adding a link to Twitter is penalised.

UNDERSTANDING NEW CHANNELS. We’ll look at TikTok, WhatsApp and Nextdoor. You may not know that that there are 12 million TikTok users in the UK.

WORKING WITH FACEBOOK GROUPS. Facebook is the second largest channel in the UK. Two thirds of users use groups. So how best to connect? You may not know that you can join a group as a page but its always down to the admin whether they let you in or not.

HOW TO HANDLE COMMENT, CRITICISM AND ABUSE. The theory is fine. But what happens when people shout? Relax, there’s a flowchart I’ll take you through. You may not know that a set of house rules that govern your social channels make taking action far easier.

So far I’ve posted 11 sessions. There’s two more on the website.

programme #11 starting 4.3.21

programme #12 starting 10.2.21

Shout if you want to chat about running the session in-house.

More will follow.

Shout if you’re interested.

Original source – The Dan Slee Blog » LOCAL SOCIAL: Is it time for a Local localgovcamp?