This morning I’ve announced, on behalf of LocalGov Digital, that the network will be organising this year’s LocalGovCamp.

For those not familiar, LocalGovCamp is an unconference for local government people, by local government people.

LocalGovCamp 2014 – the details

LocalGovCamp 2014 will be a two day event held in Birmingham on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st June. The unconference (or ‘camp’) will be held on the Saturday with Friday being a number of smaller events run by LocalGov Digital.┬áMore details on these soon but we’ve already announced one part will be a LocalGov Digital Makers event to support the practical, collaborative ethos of the network.

Follow LocalGovCamp on Twitter for more information as it’s announced.

Why are LocalGov Digital getting involved?

The whole idea of the LocalGov Digital network was born at GovCamp in 2012 as Carl Haggerty and I were thinking about content strategy for the sector and what the emergence of the Government Digital Service may mean local government. That question (should there be a local GDS?) is still being discussed and we feel the network we’ve worked to form in the last 12 months goes someway to answering.

LocalGov Digital is part of DCLG’s Digital Alliance and is made up of, and represents, practitioners from across the sector. It fosters collaborative working for practical outputs all can benefit from (the first of these was the digital Content Standard by many more are to come); seeks to influence leaders and thinking; and challenge the idea that local gov needs digital to be done *to* it rather than having expertise that can already be tapped into.

An unconference – where all contributions are needed and of value – fits perfectly with that ethos. As LocalGovCamp didn’t happen in 2013 we thought the obvious solution was to reboot the format and get those conversations and collaborations happening.

What’s so great about an unconference?

For me, my career and thinking reached a pivotal moment in June 2009 when I attended the first LocalGovCamp (organised by Dave Briggs). I’d always known there was a special sort of relationship made from meeting in person people you’d got to know online but suddenly the benefit of this in a professional capacity was made abundantly clear.

At the time I felt I was a bit of a lone wolf in the organisation I then worked for, in moving digital away from the archaic eGov principles toward conversations and collaboration in the online space. When I hit LocalGovCamp I suddenly had a pack to run with – people who felt the same in their own orgs but that knew once we collaborated together we could make great things. Developmentally, motivationally and socially that camp was a keystone for things I’ve done since.

I’ve been to many other camps and unconferences since 2009 and each one has led to something useful – a development in my thinking, an opportunity to collaborate, a motivational or supportive word from another participant.

But, just like LocalGov Digital, the thing I personally find more vital about camps and unconferences is that they make me feel I’m an active part in knowledge exchange rather than a passive receiver; I feel my expertise or experience is as valid as any other participants and that my voice can add value to the discussion; and I feel as if they move on, in a very practical way, the work I do when back in my own part of local government.

How can you get involved?

We’re looking for sponsors to help us make LocalGovCamp happen – if you think you can help get in touch with me or via @localgovdigital or @localgovcamp.

We’ll also be looking for support on the organising team in the run up to and during the event to make sure that everything goes off without a hitch. If you’d like to give some time and/or advice you can get in touch with me or via @localgovdigital or @localgovcamp.

And, of course, we need people to come along to the event and get collaborating on ideas and tools. It’s been mentioned that not many local government folk attended GovCamp this year (happening today, follow #ukgc14) but we hope we’ll see many more (as well as experienced people working around local government, public sector, third sector or in an individual capacity) at LocalGovCamp in June.

See you there, yeah?

* I’ll be giving an introduction to semantic search at the LGComms ‘Social Media 2014: Everything You Wanted to Know but were Afraid to Ask’ event in Nottingham on 30 January 2014. The event is free for delegates from organisation’s which hold an LGComms membership. If you’d like to come you can find the details here.