An unwittingly useful insight into the council’s old-fashioned attitudes to management, IT and communications – despite the council’s endless PR initiatives about the internet and a supposed new policy of “openness” – comes courtesy of Jon Rogers on Charlie’s blog.
It’s like they’re still in the 1950s down at the Council House …
“Problems arise when staff in another part of the authority need to know what their colleagues have been up to or are intending to do or what the latest is on services to a particular client or member of the public.
“Accessing information is piecemeal at the moment. That must be a great frustration to council staff.
Mike Popham, Executive Member, Efficiency and Value for Money, March 18 2009
Right. Simple. There’s a communications problem at the council.
THE CITY COUNCIL POLICY
“As you will see Charlie’s blog is hosted within the domain blogspot.com. This domain is categorised by web sense as “Social Networking and Personal Sites”. This category is BLOCKED for normal business users.
Jon Rogers, 15 April 2008
Ahhhhh. Now that harmless sounding term “Social Networking and Personal Sites” in reality refers to just about every innovative piece of web 2.0 software developed over the last five years. Most of which can be used to enhance communications between people and organisations in all kinds of interesting ways.
We’re not talking just blogs here either. “Social Networking and Personal Sites” would include Twitter, Youtube, Flickr, Facebook, message boards. A whole range of sophisticated, free communications tools that are taking the rest of the world by storm.
Not, apparently, Bristol City Council though. Instead they have a policy of depriving “normal business users” – or their staff as they’re usually called – of half the internet because um, er … Dunno … They don’t actually say!
Although I think we can safely assume some faceless someone, somewhere has decided that all this internet stuff is a very bad thing and their lazy-arsed staff must be kept away from it at all costs and deprived of learning any skills about it.
Welcome to the future city council style.
THE CITY COUNCIL SOLUTION
Popham wants to spend several million pounds (ie up to £12m) buying software to access common data and improve communications at the council
The Bristol Blogger, March 15 2009
So let’s get this straight: Bristol City Council has a policy – for no good reason – of deliberately deskilling their staff and depriving them of half of the communication tools available to everyone else on internet and then they complain that they have severe communications problems that will cost us £12m in tailored software systems to resolve.
Surely before the council forks out £12m on a new IT systems it should demonstrate it has already made full use of its existing systems and has tried and experimented with things like popular and innovative free internet-based software and systems?
Indeed, how come just about every other media, PR and progressive business in the world is falling over itself to make use of these “Social Networking and Personal Sites” while the council is banning its staff from even accessing them. Has the rest of the world got it wrong?
For a bunch of supposed business experts they don’t seem much interested in innovation or what’s going on around them do they?
Instead we seem to have a bunch of paranoid, out-of-touch and isolated control freaks on six-figure salaries who are scared shitless of the internet in charge.
But just wait. In about five years time, when Bristol City Council is even more out of touch than it is now, they’ll be talking about spending millions to train their staff for the internet age and the “knowledge economy”.
And all because a few uptight stuffed shirts from the boss class don’t approve of the lower working orders using the internet …