As we approach the one year mark for the Green administration’s term in office, I’d like to reflect on where we are with advancing the cause of openness and transparency in everything Brighton & Hove City Council does as it’s one of my Cabinet responsibilities.
Here’s the run down:
- The Council has adopted the Open Government Licence as its default license for all publications. This means our work can be re-used by others around the world without cost or permission being needed. It is a licence compatible with Creative Commons and Open Data Commons licenses.
- By default the Council is now publishing information in more detail than before. This is an ongoing process of changes in internal culture and practices. With the 2012/13 budget setting process far greater detail on every aspect of the proposals was published, earlier than ever before.
- We are in process of procuring a new Public Sector Network jointly with partner public sector bodies. This network will be platform agnostic and will link with the networks of other councils in the South East region to allow us to jointly procure and run IT services.
- We are working with MySociety to adapt their WhatDoTheyKnow system to support a better workflow for Freedom of Information requests, and proactive publishing of everything we release.
- We are publishing increasing amounts of open data, in open formats, including map data for councils services and assets.
- Council rules and protocols have been significantly amended to now allow re-use of meeting webcasts, to allow use of mobile devices in meetings and to permit audio recordings of meetings.
- The Council is now using open source software in some areas, for example OpenOffice for some teams. We are seeking to phase out the current blanket, long term Microsoft licensing arrangements we inherited in favour of more cost effective, open and service appropriate packages.
- This May we will deliver on our manifesto commitment to move to a committee system of decision making. This will involve councillors of all parties and provide a more open way for decisions to be debated and voted on.
There’s still plenty more to do, much more data to open and we could be more systematic in how we do that. There’s lots to do with our software and in progressing cultural change. We’re also working with our webcasting provider to move to a more cross-platform video solution that enables people to access meeting webcasts on a greater array of devices.
Let me know your thoughts on progress so far and what more we could be doing next.