early last week I met with two people from Brent Council Environment & Culture Department to discuss the Civic Reporter ideas and application framework that Comwifinet have been working on. A great opportunity to discuss how open accessible data could further develop participation in the up keep of the Borough. Brent Council considering working with a Made In Brent technology organisation and mobile technologies. Brent Council entertaining the public publishing daily status and performance information online. I was also keen to know more about the current use of mobile technologies by Brent and also about the techie stuff that pins their operations together.
Brent receive problem reports by several means and log them all into a central application. Incoming emails, texts and phone calls are entered into the application which dispatches messages to contractors for them to deal with the report. I understood from our meeting that some of what Civic Report does the Council is either about to deliver or is working towards delivering.
After a few mildly insulting comments about the status and stature of the comwifinet organsiation and a few about the council representatives own department and employer, I felt that the meeting was beginning to go somewhere. I talked about the positive opportunities that could be seized by publishing data and creating a interactive map thing for people to use. But before we looked at the application I knew that the meeting was a waste of time; mine and theirs. They talked about their perceived negative stumbling blocks that would prevent them for using something like Civic Reporter. In short it came down to status and money. The person meeting with me thought the comwifinet organisation was of low status and was therefore unwilling to recommend to his managers that Brent Council commit public money to us, this unknown quantity. Yet other very large public organisations spend with us – we just choose not to shout about it on our website.
A few days I got an email by a round-about way that let me know that Brent were not interested in pursuing Civic Reporter with Comwifinet. Shame that the people I met with were unable to get back to me directly. But I figure they are busy people.