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Open 311 for the lost generation?

We often talk about how we can empower digital entrepreneurs/developers/geeks, etc to develop the new apps to support our communities or transform our services, but like any change in culture of how we interact between councils and local people with skills, it can take time...even a generation.

We have @hubmum's excellent "Coding for Kids" initiative, which builds on the sterling work of Young Rewired State and we have Apps for Good working deep in communities to train young people up to build apps for the future. Paul Evans blogged about how local authorities need to be thinking about organising hackdays not just for the adults but for...and with the kids too and he offers some really good tips on how to do that.

In Kent, we’re trying to stimulate that. In fact, it didn’t start with open data, but through opening up our research and development. Last year, we developed a concept called “Transformed by You”, aiming to stimulate people to come up with ideas and work with students to help turn them into prototypes. You can see here some of what was developed. But we wanted to challenge ourselves even further, not just to get good ideas, but to work with the age group amongst young people which is most at risk. That's why we worked with young people between the age of 16-19.

That's why we were really pleased when the Judges awared the prize of the best idea to "Make it Easier to Report Local Issues" of our competition was Nathan Simpson from Thanet College. We hosted a workshop with around 100 students at the college and we had some fascinating ideas coming through.

Peter Brook, Transformation & Partnerships Manager for the Gateways Programme commented

"The best ideas are often the simplest and make you wonder why they haven't been done before. I thought 999 was such a lovely idea, sensible, practical, very customer centric and it would make a positive difference to people.

This is especially true when you consider currently most of our web traffic comes from search engines which often are not the best solution for smart phones.

Many of the ideas showed the creativity that the public sector needs to encourage if we are going to support the Kent economy and put the citizen in control. We want to support localism and entrepreneurship by working to develop some of these ideas further into working solutions."

Abbreviation 999

We're really pleased that a local bright light for the future has won this challenge (and remember, that's the ideas phase of the competition, you can now enter our second phase on prototyping and sign up to our hackday). So here's a guest blog by Nathan on the winning idea.

Have you ever been locked out of your home and need a locksmith? Have you been stuck by the side of a motorway and you need the AAs number? Have your children been locked out and can’t remember your work number? Well that is where the 999 Idea comes into action.

This idea is short and sweet like remembering the number for the emergency service. When you’ve been left outside don’t you want a way to phone a locksmith to get you back inside? This idea will help you get back inside your warm home. It’s as easy as remembering an abbreviation.

The 999 Idea takes into consideration your needs to make the problems you have float away. Type the abbreviation of the company you want and away you go, press the call and help is only a click away. Enter your own numbers for other people who can’t find a locksmith or can’t find a mechanic. Have you ever wanted to find companies emails in one place? Have you ever wanted to complain about a company or praise a company?

Again this is where 999 come into action, a quick and sophisticated way of running around your country in a matter of seconds. Be as smart as your smart phone and use this app when you’re in dire need. We support your neighbourhood and make your life as simple as possible. Use the 999 app and make your life even easier.

Over to you!

Do you want to design or develop a prototype on how people can help each other. Check out our competition and here and sign up to our event!

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