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Friday 9 March 2007


Interesting debate going on on a Board which local gov web people like moi use.

These people

have produced this

Neighbourhood Fix-It (no logo yet)

which aims to:

help people report, view, or discuss local problems they’ve found to their local council by simply locating them on a map. It launched in beta early February 2007.
MySociety are the people responsible for the Number Ten online petitions. Their early win was when they forced Hansard to let them scrape parliament information for TheyWorkForYou. Thereby allowing all of us to keep tabs on what our elected representatives are up to.

So what was the reaction when the founder of MySociety,
Tom Steinberg, popped up on the Board to ask for feedback @ soft-launch on the Beta?
There does seem to be something of a theme running through some of these responses. 'could you people please stop making our life more difficult?' does that sum it up?
Was my summation. (I'm not posting the words of others as it's a board for us only).

But I can see why. This was summed up in a more generalised moan about the job. All true. "Another thing we have to consider!"

However the particular complaints do represent a - how to put this delicately - disconnect from the reality of the web.

this is one of the main things holding back eGov.

the reality is that neighbourhoodfixit is both fabulous (+ usable) and of great benefit to eGov and local councils in particular.

One of the moans related to misfiring emails. Well, you could take advantage of that by, for example, using email auto-responders, to:
  1. promote the website and what people can do on it, including directing them to forms, which greatly smoothes back-end processes (+ you could identify that neighbourhoodfixit sent you these people)
  2. use some of thesort tools now available to filter the email and then deal with the email.
If you also explain that email which isn't sent by the preferred route will be dealt with more slowly because they're doing it the non-standard way, customers will be far, far more likely to:
  1. be impressed by this swift and precise answer
  2. use local government web services
  3. use the web to report neighbourhood issues
Most people accept acceptable delays from us and from business if they're properly explained. n'est ce pas?

They're sending us new customers, basically. Costs very little. Big potential gain.


In discussing neighbourhoodfixit a site set up by a cycling organisation to report potholes in the road was mentioned. This was very good (it said) in directing you to the right person.

Great. Trouble is that potholes are already covered elsewhere on the web, and not always benignly.

Type "report pothole" into Google and an ad for comes up. This is run by Warranty Direct ( - a quite astonishing site) and has 'How to claim' as a prominent option.

This isn't all:

We have competition.

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