This site does two things:
- Brings together the story of how social media is being used for social good in Birmingham.
- Keeps track of the Birmingham Open City project – an experiment in encouraging citizens to use public data in new ways. This is known as data mashing.
Social Media for Civic Good
Birmingham is well known for it’s thriving community of socially active bloggers and social media enthusiasts and we want to help ensure it stays that way.
Social media can help businesses market themselves, entertainers reach audiences or people keep up with their hobbies. Here we are interested in the way the web is being used for what you might call civic good.
It may be a very local blog reporting what goes on in a neighbourhood, a single issue campaign, or a community activity which encourages people to get talking online or lead healthy lives. There are dozens of examples in the city already and more spring up every week.
Using Public Data for Mashups
Demand for access to public information is increasing and we want to encourage this process. The public should have the opportunity to use this data (which they have already paid for) to make useful things to share with others. It can be information about almost anything, you could create a map of public toilets or which streets to avoid if you don’t want you car damaged or stolen.
The public sector holds a massive amount of information that can be understood in the form of graphs, maps, word clouds and even games. We want to help people get to grips with the processes involved in gathering and using data from public bodies. We want to show normal people how they can start using the internet to make this information useful to them.
Timely Information to Citizens
BeVocal is part of the ‘Birmingham Open City’ project run by Digital Birmingham with a grant from the Timely Information for Citizens programme set up by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
“The Open City Plan is a web 2.0 approach to generating collaboration, discussion, creativity, debate, data mash-ups and open source tools to enable the people of Birmingham to contribute to service planning and performance monitoring. (Digital Birmingham)“
The site will run from June to the end of September 2009. It’s been set up by Nick Booth, from Podnosh. Nick is the organiser of the Social Media Surgeries in Birmingham. The design is by Kasper Sorensen, a former student on BCU’s Online Journalism Course.