How ICT Strategy is changing the way that WCC works – with mentions for Twitter, YouTube, Ning, Facebook and the iPhone

July 27, 2009 by Jim Morton

It has been a fairly hectic (ie plenty of shouting and throwing things around) couple of months for James and I.

We have started to use the evidence we gained from the applications conceptual R&D work to further our ideas about building a service based architecture for the council, to help deliver all of the clever and futuristic technologies that our citizens will want and need in the coming years.

We’ve also got around to finally making a sign for the office door.

The momentum that the strategic approach has gathered has been helped in no small part by the increasing number of news stories and press releases detailing how the major IT suppliers are now trying to flog us all a Utopian cloud-based approach to personal and enterprise computing.

Added to this there are more examples everyday of how organisations are starting to take advantage of new ways of working via the cloud, web based applications, social networking tools and web services.

Our approach is still to do further R&D to define our architecture and then identify the technologies that we want to employ. However this is going to take us a little while. So in order to keep things moving along we have begun working with interested parties in the council to develop some new and innovative services using the concepts, methods and technologies which we want to introduce.

As these services develop and expand we will be producing more updates, our intent is that these pieces of work will provide us with experience and information to help construct the architecture. However we would also expect that if successful these examples will introduce some major changes in how WCC works, both with the public and internally.

Making use of Twitter

After quite a lot of discussion we will be looking at making use of Twitter in  a couple of ways – firstly as an additional channel for distributing WCC news. We will be interested in whether this is an effective idea and if so how to make best use of it. Also in exciting and breaking news it seems we will be starting to get our Councillors providing twitter updates. More news soon.

WCC on YouTube

Our news and media staff have launched a YouTube channel for the WCC. Strategically we believe that there is no point re-inventing the wheel for the distribution of content such as video – although there may be interesting challenges in terms of how we integrate content in such external stores as part of our overall content estate.

iPhone Application

The near-legendary WCC iPhone application is nearing completion. This is a project that will combine a number of the concepts we want to demonstrate while also providing a foundation for developing similar applications for other popular mobile platforms such as Android and Blackberry

The Future of Warwickshire Libraries

We have started to work with the forward thinking management of our libraries service to understand how they can best make use of emerging standards and technologies to provide innovative methods of delivering both traditional library services and also take advantage of social media to explore new types of services for their members. Platforms such as Facebook, Netvibes and Twitter will all be under consideration.

Social Networking and WCC communications

In addition to testing out twitter our news team has also set up a Netvibes page collating Warwickshire related news and information, you can check it out at: http://www.netvibes.com/wccmedia – this helps to show that there is already a wealth of information available via web service feeds.

Collaborative  working for local communities

In order to rapidly provide a platform to enable the work of WCC’s community forums we have adopted the use of the Ning platform to create a social networking platform specifically for this purpose. This was set up by our e-communications team and is now live for all citizens to get involved with. You can visit it here and set up an ID if you want to contribute: http://warwickshirelocalities.ning.com/.

An API for WCC

As part of the iPhone project we are starting to develop an Application Programming Interface for WCC information – so that developers have open and standard methods for interacting with the organisation’s information and services. This is an absolutely key strut of our strategic approach, although the information that will be available initially will be very simple we will no doubt learn some valuable lessons in how such an interface should be constructed, maintained and governed.

Exploiting Cloud/Utility Computing

We are starting to investigate the usage of cloud services for providing live services – in particular the Amazon products for rapidly providing flexible and scalable computing power and electronic storage. More news on this soon.

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