Brewcamp Birmingham Jan 13


The first Brewcamp of 2013 saw the crew visit the 6/8 Kafe in Birmingham on Thursday 31st January 2013. There was a good turnout of attendees, and a great mix of discussions from the evening’s speakers. Dan Slee has pulled together a lovely Storify which you should have a read of.

Claire Turner from the Environment Agency came along to talk to us about their use of social media during the flooding. Key points from Claire’s session included:

  • Traditional media is not usually around at the weekends, so social media is vital when it comes to getting the messages out
  • Follow the police, major news and journalist accounts and include them on tweets. This can help get the message re-tweeted to a much wider audience
  • It can become quite resource intensive, so needs to be part of media on call
  • Their early morning tweet with a summary of flood alerts has proved popular
  • Have at least 3 or 4 people managing the account, but ensure everyone understands the need for high quality information
  • Images are really valuable, some of the operations teams have iPads so they can send images back. They also use Flickr to share their images
  • They have a list of trusted partners and media, they tend not to re-tweet info unless it can be verified. This can be tricky if an area has been cut off
  • However it hasn’t reached everyone yet – some still say they are too busy

Following Claire, Ed Cook talked all about the recent HealthCampWM that was held back in December in Birmingham:


  • Having attended a number of camps aimed at local government, Ed felt there was a need to do something similar for the NHS, and he was the man to do it!
  • There is no longer a budget for the traditional glossy magazines the NHS loves to produce.  We need to communicate and engage – the NHS cannot afford to broadcast any more
  • With a little bit of support from others, and a small budget, Ed was able to pull off HealthCampWM with only a night or two of sleepless nights
  • The range of sessions on the day was exactly what Ed had hoped for. Some were predictable (open data), others weren’t (digital skills for carers). Either way, they got people talking and everyone felt the event was a huge success
  • After the first event, Ed is now looking at ways to build on this. The term HealthCamp is too broad, and it would seem sensible to start “themed” health events, such as CommissioningCamp, SocialCareCamp…
  • Don’t forget to support great initiatives, like John Popham’s Free WiFi for Hospital Patients

Finally, Kate Sahota and Dan Slee kicked off a conversation about the new LGA project “localgov digital” and how we are going to help local government become “digital by default”. Although we didn’t come to any significant conclusions, there are many questions…

  • Why do people feel they can’t *trust* transacting online with government?
  • Vicky Sargent mentioned the evidence of the significantly higher % of transactions for buying insurance online (which can be very complicated) to renewing car tax (which is very simple)
  • Should we be doing “digital by default” or “digital by choice” (Kate referenced Phil Rumen’s blog post)
  • How are we going to bridge the digital divide? What does Assisted Digital really mean, and how are we going to do it?
  • There is a huge scope for collaboration across Local Government to achieve this. An advantage we have over large corporates, such as Amazon. However, should we trade in some of our localism in order to achieve savings through designing digital services to meet the needs across local government?

And there we have it. Another packed evening of interesting topics and people over tea, coffee and cake. The next Brewcamp will be taking place during March/April – watch this space.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brewcamp Oldbury

Last week Brewcamp visited the Court of Requests in Oldbury. Many thanks to the pub for giving us the space and letting us rearrange their furniture.

As usual we had three speakers. Firstly, there was Jason Davies who spoke about the Community Payback project that Staffs & West Mids Probabation Service are embarking on following their success in winning funding through Ordnance Survey’s Geovation competition.

Their aim is to create a mobile app for members of the public to report an area or problem that would be suitable for improvement through Community Payback. Community Payback is the name for what used to be referred to as Community Service. It is a sentence that courts can pass instead of a custodial one. It gives people a chance to turn their lives around while returning something to the community where they have committed crimes. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Mama, we’re all Brewcamp Walsall

We’re really extra super pleased to be staging the first Brewcamp of 2012 in Walsall.
It’s the home of Noddy Holder, the Leather industry and a whole lot more besides.
Thanks to some sponsorship from More Open there’s a chance of a free cup of coffee to tempt you further.
What is a Brewcamp?
Basically, it’s a chance for people in and around local government to come together to chat, plot, eat cake, drink a brew and help the world become a little better. One cup at a time. It stems from the Hyper WM unconferences.
What format will it be?

It’s informal, there will be three speakers and an opportunity to ask questions as well as to chat to the others who come along.
SESSION 1: Countryside 2.0 – Morgan Bowers from Walsall Council’s countryside service to talk about how she uses Twitter, Facebook and Flickr as part of her everyday job. She’ll talk about how this has affected her job. She’s @walsallwildlife on Twitter.
SESSION 2: News Aggregating And The Media Landscape – Mark Blackstock launched The Yam Yam more than two years ago and now aggregates more than 100 blogs across Walsall as well as public sector and old media websites in the one place. He has a similar aproach in Birmingham with 400 blogs at The Brummie. He’ll talk about how this has affected the landscape
SESSION 3: What Does Social Media Purdah look like? In the run-up to elections restrictions known as ‘purdah’ are introduced on how official channels can be used to quote elected members. Dave Musson of Solihill Council leads a discussion.

Where will it be?

Starbucks, Crown Wharf, You can find them here.
Where can I park?

Crown Wharf has its own pay and display car park.
How about the train?

Walsall Railway Station is four minutes away.

Register for Walsall Brewcamp in Walsall, United Kingdom  on Eventbrite

Special thanks to Jon from @walsalltown, Starbucks Walsall and More Open’s Dave and Steph.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Brewcamp IV

We are heading back to Birmingham for Brewcamp IV and our friends at Cafe Blend.

Thursday, 6 October 2011 from 5:30pm

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and register on the Eventbrite site here!

We’re busy brewing up the sessions right now. At the moment we have one of them confirmed:-

Simon Whitehouse will be talking about the Birmingham Civic Dashboard. This is the soon to be released website from Digital Birmingham and Mudlark which maps the service requests the city receives each day and shows them on a map.

We’ll be announcing the other sessions over the next week or two.

And, we are very pleased to let you know that the teas and coffees at Brewcamp IV will be sponsored by our friends from





Find out more about their work here.

Posted in Events | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

There’s something brewing…

An awesome Brewcamp with most excellent cake ensued Wednesday 27th June at Browns Cafe Bar in Coventry. We are already scheming the next one!

Those amongst others in attendance were..

brewcamp cake

Kaz shows us how it's done

Kate Sahota

Stuart Harrison
Andy Mabbett
Al Smith
Si Whitehouse
Karen Ramsay Smith
Tim Coleman
Tim Wilson
Simon Gray
Jen Bakewell
Vanessa Pearce
Glynis Powell
Chris Ellis
Martin Wright
Chris Jones

Amongst the great discussions on the night..

Bus timetable information

Shropshire team have built an application that takes the data from internal teams, it enables search by where you are coming from/going to/bus number. It generates a timetable for the user. Discussions then progressed to talking about making the data open for other people to use.  A common format would be needed from the bus companies.

You can see the work from the Shropshire team here.

Buses that link boundaries – thought not to be useful for people living on the edge of the boundaries.  There was a general consensus that we need to get everyone to open up the data so we can create something more useful but how do we do this when councils don’t talk to each other? Thoughts around working with the bus operators to get them to open there data. A lot of our data is coming in from elsewhere – need to encourage external companies to help open up the data.

Although there are no location tracking devices on buses – may look at doing a trial for this. Also looking at putting QR on bus stops so people know when the next bus is coming. Still need case studies to prove the case for open data. The Shropshire team are interested in knowing what people want from them that can help others do this in their own

Andy Mabbet suggested that as there are already a lot of initiatives looking at timetable data – perhaps it would benefit to look at who’s doing it already and how they could help/give ideas/advice. e.g Some work is being done on train timetable data.

Simon Gray spoke about the Matisse project – which centers around traffic data – they are hoping to release an XML feed, however this has been held up. This is being picked up however and that data should be coming on stream fairly soon.

Filming/tweeting council meetings

A general discussion began around recent issues highlighted by the media how a blogger had been arrested for filming council meeting and how this came about.  It was mentioned that the BCC have been filming council meetings, which hasn’t gone without problems.

Shropshire live tweet all cabinet meetings. 6 years ago they filmed and broadcast it – but the take up and broadband were both low.

Concerns over filming are :-

  • People with laptops disturbing meetings
  • Things being mis-reported and mis-quoted.
  • Members worried about live filming in case information misinterpreted.
  • No enough demand from the public

Andy Mabbett and & Karen Ramsay-Smith noted that the amount of reach is key – not the number of people watching. It’s the blog posts and news reports that are generated as a result of the filming that are the real benefits here.

Al Smith mentioned that it would be helpful to find out what members are worried about happening as a result of opening the meetings to film and try and alleviate those fears.

If archived videos were used this could perhaps solve disputes over misinterpreted information. It shouldn’t be about what the members want, it should be about what the citizens want. If my councillor is falling asleep during meetings, I want to know about it.
Feeling from most that they are open meetings, so this should be done.

Andy Mabbet concluded by talking about accessibility and the need to ensure videos are properly subtitled.
However! using not being perfect as a reason for not doing something means we’ll never do it! Putting things online, will lead to people doing things offline.

QR Codes

Andy Mabbett introduced the session and spoke about his role as a Wikipedia editor, the GLAM WikiProject (Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums) and how this is creating a link between Wikipedia editors and museums. Volunteers undertook writing articles about the artifacts in the museum. The staff produced lots of background information about the artifacts to help write the articles of particularly notable items. Also did some work to do foreign language articles – 500 were created (including translations) as a result of 12 – 20 people in 1 day. Derby agreed to donate their text from handouts and brochures to save it all being re-written.

Also a project to put QR codes against museum exhibits – encoded url will go to QR-pedia – will transmit default language from phone so that it can return the article in the correct language and it would be served in a mobile friendly format.

Andy is also a Wikipedia Outreach Ambassador – helping ARKive (promotes conservation of threatened species through wildlife imagery) to write articles and open up the information.

Andy explained how there are strict issues around copyright which make it difficult for museums to make photographs available under an open license, even photographs of artifacts. Shropshire and Lichfield are both making a lot of their old photographs available already.

Andy has shared his brewcamp bookmarks here

and here are some of the excellent posts from the evenings events..

Kate Sahota, Warwickshire County Council – “Brewcamp Coventry”

Jan Britton – Chief Executive, Sandwell Council – “Brewcamp & Curry”

Dan Slee, Walsall County Council -“Tea and innovation: Are we, like, getting mainstream, now?”

Posted in Events | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Brewcamp sent to Coventry

Wednesday July 27th 2011 sees the brewcampers on tour and heading to Browns Cafe Bar in Coventry. If would like to secure your ticket, please visit the Eventbrite page and register.

We’ll be starting at 5:30pm, running until about 8pm and then heading off for a curry.

Posted in Events, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment