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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

97. Councillor question and answer pages

This is something I picked up at the recent Nesta Digital Democracy Day (I wrote about the day here).  The idea was one of many included in a rich presentation from super cool Taiwan ‘Digital’ Minister without Portfolio, Audrey Tang.

Upon taking office earlier this year Audrey set up a question and answer page for public and media enquiries on Wiselike (although I'm sure other solutions are available...).

Anyone can submit a question although it will only get published once the answer is published.  This gives complete content control and allows the page owner to curate their media responses in public.

As Audrey explained at the Nesta event, this is her single channel for dealing with the press.  So, if anyone wants her official line on something, or is simply looking for a story, this is the only place to go.

I think this idea has bags of potential for local democracy in the UK.

It would be great if councillors in their ward roles, but also as cabinet members and chairs of committees, could set up pages like this.

It would be a step towards making the process of local democracy more human by giving people and media direct contact with real people rather than the more traditional more corporate PR approach.

It is also something that councillors could (and should) manage for themselves – a ‘self-serve’ benefit of digital.

No doubt a degree of support and training behind the scenes will be required but the key point, I think, is that the councillors’ role as the face of local democracy is reinforced as is the principle of working openly in public.

What's not to like?

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