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Electronic members vital to vibrant e-government ...
Electronic members vital to vibrant e-government

Is enough being done to engage councillors in e-government? After all, they are the ones who will vote through the budgets.

Many councillors remain, at best, unconvinced about e-government and, at worst, downright hostile. Councillors want real evidence to show any investments are improving communications and service delivery.

So the approach many councils are taking of piloting initiatives and analysing their impact seems absolutely right, as does the focus on reshaping back-office processes and front-office contact points.

Research by the Foundation for IT in Local Government suggests we need to think more about how technology can be used to support councillors' own work.

This goes beyond just giving councillors PCs. We need a better understanding of how councillors interact with their constituents and the range of information and back-up they require.

The development of the e-government infrastructure may help. Call centres, for instance, are usually seen largely in terms of incoming traffic. But could we use their capabilities to poll constituents on key issues? Would a ward-by-ward analysis of the sorts of calls the council is receiving give councillors information about their voters' concerns?

In short, supporting councillors should be at the heart of the e- government programme. We need to put as much effort into marketing e-government internally as externally.

David Hunter

Programme director,

Foundation for IT in Local Government

Swansea's youth do it for themselves

A consultation campaign has been run over the summer to help guide the development of the Young Swansea web site.

City & County of Swansea Council is committed to hosting and supporting the ongoing development of a web site designed by young people, for young people.

The first section of the site to go on-

line has been developed by two young people from Swansea's Youth Forum. They have created web pages providing information about the Youth Forum and

its members.

There is now a web development team meeting monthly to work on improving the site.

So far this has entailed launching the campaign at Party In The Park. The web development team - a group of young people from the forum -

promoted the site and asked other

young people what they would like to see on it.

The next consultation took place in the Quadrant shopping centre when the web development team undertook more formal interviews with other young people in town.

The final stage of the consultation

is under preparation and will take the form of a poster campaign inviting

young people to go online and leave

their suggestions for the site. This will be sent to schools, clubs and other venues where there are young people. The findings will be used to help develop priorities for the next stage of development of the site.

Bridget Wells, Swansea's research

and information officer, says 'We have carried out over 150 surveys among

young people between the ages of eight and 25. We asked them why they use the internet, where they access it, and what they would like on the website.

'They have asked for a chatroom, what's-on listings for the city and links to relevant sites for youth. The council will also be adding links to its own site and services,' she adds.

'At the moment we're inviting local young people to log on and tell us what they think. They could even win a prize - top prize of£50 vouchers and five runnner-up prizes of£10.

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