Archive for the Previous Doings.. Category

Empowering the Largest Superpower on the Planet

Hi .. I’ve recently been inspired by Satich Kumar (Resurgence Magazine) saying, “Public opinion is the largest superpower on the planet but as of yet it is largely uncoordinated” and many other leading speaker who say that the solution to many of our problems lie in direct democracy, starting at the most local level.

Be Counted

Be Counted

In the UK, if we look at who is responsible for democracy within communities, we find 9764 parish/community councils, most of which have little or no dialogue with residents and to quote their own words, “most of our decisions are based on guesswork!”

What an incredible paradox that is considering we have so many methods of communication available to us and more on the way including digital TV arriving imminently.

And then we’re seeing literally millions of people voting each week for the purpose of entertainment on X Factor and similar shows. So we know people want to vote and enjoy voting as long as they feel engaged and empowered by the process.

So it seems the hard work is already done… that of getting a voting device into almost everybody on the planet’s pocket in the form of a mobile phone. All we need now is some authentic empowerment or democratically focused software to run on our existing communications infrastructure (that we have almost destroyed the earth to create) that we all buy into as a human species. Then we can get down to the real business of engaging conveniently in sustainable collective coordinated action and setting “trigger levels” (or tipping points) for all the actions we want to see.

This is what we at “LocalEyes” http://www.localeyes.org (a comprehensive local social network) have been working on for 6 years now and it’s called The Voice. The Voice is a nationwide infrastructure for any social or geographic group to engage their members/residents/students/staff/customers etc. in decision making processes.

The process goes a bit like this:
1. creating themes for the consultation, 2. calling for ideas under the themes, 3. debating the ideas in text, image and video format, 4. rating the ideas 5. taking the best ideas through to voting and determining the necessary commitment, 6. publishing results, 7, logging action points materialising.

Public events can be held where people engage using laptops, a projector, video, and mobile. Its “Ask the Audience” grounded into the local village hall.

We’re piloting The Voice with funding from the Ministry of Justice under a project called “Building Democracy” so please, if you think you might be able to run a pilot in your social group, council, business, community, school, environmental network, WI, church etc … please get in touch. peter.a@localeyes.org or call 07971 219 848.

All the best to all you democratic advocates

Imagine ..

Imagine...

Imagine...

… the voting technology seen on X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing grounded into the community enabling the residents or members of social groups to vote on local topics, involving them in the decision making processes and facilitating consultation with governing bodies.

… the voting technology seen on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, working in our local village/town halls, where people gather on a regular basis (i.e. quarterly) to discuss, debate and then vote on local issues in a collective space

… the social networking abilities of Facebook or MySpace grounded into the community to enable local people to make local connections with like- minded people, then go out the door and meet those people face to face.

… Yellow Pages for social groups instead of just businesses, connecting & engaging people with the activities & events happening in the local area.

… having the tools to help reduce your community’s carbon footprint – be it car share, how to go plastic bag free or sourcing local produce.

… a local version of eBay combined with FreeCycle & SwapShop, that creates a local marketplace for people to buy or sell local products, fresh produce, arts & crafts, FreeCycle or swap items.

… a summary of all this information coming to your inbox on a weekly/fortnightly basis, showing exactly how diverse, active & engaging our communities really are.

… now you should have a fairly good idea about what we’re trying to achieve.

What was the inspiration behind LocalEyes?

I  used to be the MD of Buzinet Solutions, a fairly large IT firm based in SW Wales. It was while running this company that many social groups approached us wanting to use technology and the web more effectively.

At this point I created a project that was to deliver the latest technologies to social groups, where these internet tools would be delivered to the groups by unemployed people on IT training programmes. So not only did the groups receive the technology, but also additional capacity and man power to good make use of them.

This project was funded by the WCVA (10k) and was successful in its aims but I realised that before the model could be rolled out on a nationwide basis we needed to create a comprehensive groups directory (the social equivalent of yell.co.uk) for the UK first.

This led me to the realisation that there is a huge amount of information about our own communities that is almost impossible to access easily. This is where the concept of a “Comprehensive Community Resource” for all 9763 communities and the UK’s “No.1 local social network” was born.

LocalEyes

LocalEyes

The next realisation was that we could not comprehensively capacity build with social groups until there was first a UK wide directory, (similar to yell.co.uk but for our social needs), so this became our primary objective.

Following on from this came the ideas for a local marketplace, local car sharing, local social networking, community carbon footprinting tools etc.

The most recent development has been “VocalEyes” in response to the lack of communication & dialogue between governing councils and the citizens they represent.

What problems is LocalEyes addressing?

Presently there is little communication between the key decision makers in a community and the majority of the residents, and consequently many people feel unempowered. It is our aim to radically improve this, thus engaging & empowering individuals while improving social interaction and local democracy.“Public opinion is undoubtedly the largest superpower on the planet but is still largely uncoordinated.”

Many people do not know enough about the people, groups and businesses in their own communities and are still relatively socially isolated as a result. Also, the process of reducing the cost of living, our carbon footprints and dependency on oil, leading us towards a sustainable and resilient future, largely revolves around connecting to everything that is local.

Many social groups are not making the best use of the web technologies available and consequently struggle to promote their activities, engage existing members and attract new members.

There is a lack of funds that are easily accessible for local community initiatives.
It is very difficult to gauge our progress in relation to climate change without being able to calculate community carbon footprints.