Several acquaintances/friends of mine and I have had the opportunity to speak to a few City of London councilors and employees at various local events over the last year like AgendaCamp and SMarts London. We’re also encouraging them to attend this year’s PodCamp. I find myself usually running into Nancy Branscombe; while I don’t always agree with her (mostly about the cartoons), I know that I and several others appreciate the effort she makes to get involved in community/grassroots events.
People like Shawn Adamsson, Bill Deys, Titus Ferguson and I have all taken those opportunities to speak to Nancy, voicing our concerns for the city; some of these concerns have to do with the lack of an open data initiative for London, how the city’s engaging citizens (or rather, how it’s not), and more recently Bill Wittur has been talking about making London a “digital destination.” It looks like our concerns have been heard, because Nancy decided it would be a good idea to let engaged folks speak to some City councilors and staff. Last week we had a 90 minute meeting with several higher-ups from the City.
Those in attendance at this initial meeting included Adam Caplan, Bill Deys, Bill Wittur, Jodi Simpson, Shawn Adamsson, Titus Ferguson, Keith Tomasek, Jeff Fielding (City of London CAO), Joseph Edward (City of London CTO), Nancy, Judy Bryant (councilor), Elaine Gamble and several staffers. The “normal” citizens had a chance to explain open data (as opposed to open source), making London more attractive to digital businesses (like TVWorks, NDS and Digital Extremes), and how the City can engage citizens more effectively.
Some of the outcomes of the meeting included some breakout meetings happening between people currently involved and those we think should be involved (e.g. Mike Schmalz of Digital Extremes), setting up an online presence (which I’m taking care of right now over at ChangeLondon.ca), along with sending Gavin Newsom’s (Mayor of San Francisco) guest blog entries from TechCruch.com to City employees/councilors in order to give them a politician’s perspective on open data.
So what’s next? Well, more meetings will certainly be taking place. We’re all busy people, so the online presence is crucial to fleshing out our ideas, letting anyone in and around London comment and get engaged, and for setting up future face-to-face meetings and discussions. We hope that everyone in the London area will find something interesting to get involved in, or at least comment on, and start driving London and Middlesex County to be even better than they are in several ways.
When ChangeLondon.ca is ready for public consumption, you can bet you’ll hear about it here and elsewhere! What other areas do you think Change London should focus on?