CivicSurf is a campaign to help inspire councillors and other civic leaders to use the internet to communicate with their constituents, stakeholders and the general public.
Every day public meetings are taking place all around the UK. Conversations about the way neighbourhoods are run; the society we live in; the fabric of our towns and cities. The astonishing thing is that our councillors and senior council officers are not taking part. They are not taking part because the meetings and conversations are taking place online and the skills traditionally possessed by our civic leaders are not suited to leading online.
The project consists of a documentary, booklet and series of events around the country. The 14 minute documentary (you can see a trailer), follows 3 Norfolk County Councillors as they learn to blog. We get to see their transformation from sceptical novices to enthusiastic, successful bloggers and can compare them with the views of some of the most experienced UK civic bloggers such as Cllr Mary Reid, Tom Watson MP, Steve Webb MP, Richard Brunstrom (Chief Constable of North Wales Police) and Andrew North (CEO of Cheltenham Borough Council).
The accompanying 32pp booklet complements the film and informs readers how to start a blog and gives tips on becoming an effective online communicator. A series of events around the country will finish off the inspiration as a Q&A session with a local blogger provides a real world perspective that reinforces the messages from the film and reassures the prospective online civic leaders that the blogosphere is a supportive and welcoming environment.
The project is online at www.civicsurf.org.uk and the site is continually updated and added to. 1,000 DVD’s, and 10,000 booklets (funded by Norfolk County Council through the evoice project) have been produced and will be sent out to local authorities, NHS Trust, and Emergency Services in early September. All materials have been produced under a Creative Commons Licence and will be available online.
The project is being managed by Gallomanor. Norfolk County Council are providing support for their councillors and filming much of their journey. Training and blogging expertise is provided by Wigley and Associates and Andrew Brown. The film is being produced by Napoleon Creative. OpenEye Communications, ICELE and Involve are providing editorial and promotional support. More about the team behind CivicSurf.
The project is funded by the UK Government’s Ministry of Justice Innovations Fund II, Norfolk County Council (with eVoice funding). We are interested in hearing from any organisation wishing to sponsor further events to broaden the reach of our work.