10 questions I’d ask our residents about digital

As far as I can work out (I am struggling to find clear guidance on this) us local government types still have a duty to consult. So here are 10 questions I’d ask our residents if money were no object.

Is that a smartphone in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?

Everybody wants an app. Apps are cool. Apps will save the world! Hmmm. Unlikely if no one has a smartphone within a 5 mile radius.
How have you spoken to Council shaped people in the last 12 months?
And, was it an awesome experience? Or did it suck? And whichever, why?#

How would you have chosen to speak to Council shaped people in the last 12 months if you could have really chosen in the truest sense of the word?
It’s no use knowing how people have interacted. We need to know how they want to interact. What do they expect of us, and are we delivering it?

How many times did you play telephone/email tennis with us in the last 12 months?
If you think this doesn’t happen in your Department – it doesn’t while you’re around to hear. I can guarantee you that the second you walk out of the door, the cul-de-sac calls start. The ones where someone asks ‘is this the Housing Department?’ and the Council employee on the other end says ‘no’. And nothing else.

Do you feel that the web is swallowing your children alive?
If the answer is yes, we need to do more educating. Way more educating. And I’m scared 90% of the UK parenting population would say yes. I don’t think they would, I like to believe our E-Safety Unit kicks butt but you know….

Would you buy more local if local actually had a web presence?
I’d give all my money to local businesses if they had a web presence which didn’t make my eyes bleed. No name/shame but I do have a specific business in mind. Does it only matter to me or are we doing our local economies a disservice by not empowering/educating/enabling?

Did you know you can do shopping online when the pavements are too treacherous to walk on?
Cos I don’t think a lot of people do. And whilst we can’t grit every pavement (nor every road, actually), what we can do, I believe, is teach you to make sure you don’t go hungry or without medicine ever again. If you want us to.

Do you care digital saves us money?
Is banging on about money savings turning the public on to digital media or off it is a fundamental question to me. I don’t know how all the Joe Bloggs feel. I need to know before I put barriers in peoples minds that just don’t need to be there.
Do you want us to talk to you like a Council or like a person?
You see, I want to be spoken to as a person. But I know the Council contains humans. Are there people out there for whom humanity destroys the illusion of competency? Are there people out there who need formality from public bodies in order to trust them?
If we said you can talk to people if you want to and you make the call on whether you need to but we tell you how much it’s going to cost to do so, is that cool?
I don’t think people know. I think if people knew, they might choose to go do some legwork themselves, just like us Trip Advisor, hotels.com, kayak.com bods do when booking hols.

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Terri Jones

Great questions and nice use of humor! This stuff is important to consider. I think elected officials are getting better about asking some of these questions before chasing the latest technology.

Jeff Ribeira

Great list! Relative to number 6, I was just thinking, if we could find a generous, professional design company willing to participate, I think a great experiment would be for them to go into a small town, create or re-create awesome, modern, user-friendly websites for something like 10-15 local business (or all of them if it’s not too much), and then see if there is any noticeable change in the town’s/area’s perception of the establishments, and whether or not it actually boosts the local economy. It would be a fairly large project (although this could be curbed by working with 5-7 nicely custom designed templates for shop owners to choose from), and finding people willing to do that with little to no pay could be pretty difficult, but all in all, I think the results could be really intriguing.