Digital innovation in local government around the world


(This is a full version of an article I wrote for The Guardian’s Local Leaders Network on digital innovation in local government. You can read the edited version on the Guardian’s site.)

When working in digital innovation and local government, it’s helpful to stick your head above the parapet and see what others are up to.

There is loads of really interesting digital innovation going on at the moment in local government, so we thought we’d highlight several projects that have come to FutureGov’s attention around the world. From France to Colombia to Australia (and a little closer to home).

We spoke to each of the project’s directors to see why they think their digital project is particularly innovative and tell us how it has been received.

If you’ve spotted an interesting digital product or service in local government, why not leave a comment and help us gather even more inspiration?


Territoires en Résidences (Territories in Residence)

How can we renovate the processes of action of public authorities, engage participation in public institutions and foster sustainable transition?”These are some of the focus of La 27e Région, a French public innovation lab.

The main idea is to organise Residences – long periods of immersion of small multidisciplinary creative teams. The aims of the 27e Régions’ Residences are both to enable users to manage participative innovation to transform the local institution and to feedback the lessons learned in order to update regional policies and the way public policies are developed.

Stéphane Vincent at Romain Thévenet, directors of the projects describe why the digital project is innovative: “Co-designing with the population, friendly hacking of the administrative structure, rapid prototyping of new services and careful reporting to track the lessons learnt.”


Mi Cuidad Ideal (My Ideal City)

My Ideal City is a constructive platform that intends the optimistic participation of anyone interested in making Bogota a better city. The foundation to this project is The My Ideal City site which is a place to for conversation for everyday people around trends in urban living across the world. The discussion will ultimately inspire a redevelopment plan that will presented to city planners in Bogota.

The site founder’s say that “The key is citizen participation. Through the My Ideal City project, this basic, yet revolutionary idea will make a huge difference to the average Bogotano – and to people living in cities around the world. It will reinvigorate their sense of collective pride and spark them into action through participation.”


Run That Town

Run That Town is a iPhone strategy game that lets you take control of any neighbourhood in Australia and use real Census data to make decisions that affect your story. Using real Census data , you can discover who’s who in your area, and make decisions that will sway popular opinion in your favour. IT’s like Sim City, but using real life city data.

Sue Taylor, Director of the 2016 Australian Census, said by using core demographic data, the game demonstrates, in a simple and visual way, the many ways Census data can be used by everyday Australians in a light-hearted and entertaining way: “Run That Town offers a unique insight into how Census data can be used. The game is an innovative and fun way to communicate with the public, while embracing digital media.”


Merton Ward Profiles

Previously, Merton Ward Profiles were 20-page documents (for each ward) “summarising” the key facts. But using a combination of Microsoft Powerpoint, Excel and, Eshaan Akbar, Policy, Strategy and Partnerships Officer at Merton Borough Council, was able to give an much clearer and simpler overview of some of the key statistics from the 2011 Census.

Akbar said of the project: “Council officers and Members have welcomed the simplicity of having an easy snapshot of a ward on a single page. Following this project, there is real appetite for presenting complex information as simplistically and as engagingly as possible.  The innovation lies in its simplicity, using existing software available to everyone and in being compatible with mobile devices”


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