Liveblog of Hansard Society event on Digital MPs

6:35 Jon Kingsbury (NESTA) begins by talking about the growth areas for digital media businesses. he feels there is enormous growth for the public sector in engaging with the public for better quality and low cost public services.

Kingsbury says that while the trust level with MPs is the lowest it has ever been, there is a huge influx of MPs in to parliament and government. Because a higher proportion of MPs have bene in the private sector, there is a tendency to be more literate in emergent technologies.

Kingsbury says the impact of the internet in public services and government spans three ‘generations’ – (1) personal websites for MPs and departments, (2) publication and development of open data, and (3) edemocracy based on collaborative decision making and citizen oriented policy development.

Kingsbury uses the example of MyMP as a publiczone product, which enables people to find out about MPs and localised services by entering a postcode. The application is designed to allow MPs to directly engage with their constituents, running polls and providing news services to the public. This is currently a beta product but is seeking further adoption by MPs.

Andy Williamson (Hansard Society) says that we need to ensure that we don’t limit the products by device as iPhone is only 3% of the market and is not necessarily the device of choice to those in need in the electorate.

18:50 Paul Hodgkin (Patient Opinion) notes that the value of Patient Opinion is in allowing patients to have a say about the tools and experiences of health care in the market. What you get is structured conversations about micro aspects of care.

The aim, of course, is to get service improvements in the health service. Difficulty to get to drive use, because people don’t necessarily want to share their highly personalised stories online. However since Patient Opinion has teamed up with C4′s Embarrassing Bodies there’s an opportunity to get more people to share more.

Jason Gough from Patient Opinion talks about the highly personal problems and the value of anonymity in sharing stories about their medical experiences. The opportunity to demystify issues identified in anonymous posts is highly valued not only by the public but by front line medical services staff who may be able to assist and support community members.

19:00 Tim Hood from Yoosk is up talking about his services, designed to act as a gateway to services. He notes that it is possible to have valuable, sensible conversations online. Yoosk is based on the concept of questions and answers, where the public put their questions to a named public figure, an organisation or on a specific issue, and these questions are voted on by the public (as input to the editorial process). Yoosk then enable relevant authorities to answer questions and get feedback on what the public thinks about the answers given. Yoosk questions are widget driven, so they can be embedded in to other sites. Yoosk is another 4iP investment.

A lot of the interviews with public figures are conducted by video to ensure the authority of the response. Yoosk works with media, but they are not journalists. They merely filter information and Q&A. They see themselves as a supplement to twitter and facebook.

Lobbyists and consitutuents believe that Yoosk provides them with an opportunity to influence decision making at the parliamentary level.

Yoosk has proposed a spearate engagement platform for MPs for parliamentary committees and as a means of enabling digital democracy and socratic debate.

19:11 Williamson notes that digital citizens want to engage online but they don’t want to be recipients of broadcast content – they want active participation. The difficulty is for MPs is in how to meet those needs.

Nothing digital closes down anything non-digital. If constituents wish to meet parliamentarians, the availability of digital channels doesn’t preclude that opportunity. It merely augments current consultation procedures and perhaps enables development of understanding about how to work more directly with the public.

Question time follows, where questions relate to opening up data, and funding mechansims for beta products. @paulclarke and @kcorrick are among the contributors. [JJ's comment: YAY! Hi guys!]

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