A Call to Collaboration Part 1.

As part of my work for http://www.LocalEyes.org, I have identified that an issue faced collectively by Social Enterprises is reaching the “Community”.

Many groups already exist that “engage with the community”, ie. they get together and they do stuff. The organisers of such groups, are exactly the kind of people, we should be helping, and that our various tools can help.

But who are they, and where are they located?

Their information exists online, in a variety of greatly dispersed databases, held by libraries, Councils, and other NGO’s and public bodies.

This information is dispersed and no one can see the whole picture. We are therefore not able to join and connect these groups, and help them help themselves (and help us achieve our goals) as effectively as is desirable.

But what if all these organisations shared this data? What if there were one “shared data pool”? That if you contributed to it, you derived benefit of access to data far beyond your own means? Nb. even if you have no data to begin with, provided use for the community good, access can be granted.

I am not the only one to have this idea – http://www.buildingdemocracy.co.uk/fund/2008/09/communicosm.html, likewise when I discussed this with the Young Foundation also voiced it was looking at something similar. Great minds think alike. Now it’s been thought at least 3 times, let’s build it.

Below is a clear summary of what this project is about, I have also mapped what we have, and what we need on an open mind map. Please see editing guidelines if you wish to help us build this resource.

Collate and agreggate data on existing community groups, and share it with socially beneficial organisations

Why?

Existing community groups are platforms for engagement, they are already proactively engaging the community, be it for purposes of pleasure or social change. If your social enterprise/organisation is of relevance to them, then you should both be made aware of each others presence. Allowing these groups to share knowledge and collaborate will actively improve their activities. Unless we have access to this information about where these groups are and how to contact them, we cannot begin these activities.

Why collaborate?

Benefit to you
The value of your site to the community is only as valuable as the amount of information available. You put in your data, you get access to a far greater amount of data than you put in. Everybody wins.

Benefit to user
Regardless of access point and type of service, they get access to full information not just a small piece of the puzzle.

Challenges

Groups data is public information, however individual user data is a different matter and will likely require user opt in to migrate. However benefit to user (especially if socially minded (which is likely as a social enterprise participant), is to allow them to access a range of social tools without having to sign up all over again. We will need to take care to ensure data protection laws are adhered to. For the time being we are going to leave this specific area well alone.

Do begin with if we can agree on the benefits of such a project and are willing to commit, then we will be off to a good start.

So far, the following groups/organisations/social enterprises have agreed to assist us. Thanks to these pioneers, may there be many more.

Pledged Data

EcoMotion – Student Groups database, awaiting details (note that LocalEyes and Ecomotion are both presently building community access points, some may say we’re in competition, yet we recognise the benefits of collaboration)
LocalEyes – Pembrokeshire groups database – 410 groups and societies, Somerset, 300 green groups
Knowledge Integration – Sheffield Groups Database – 5000+ Groups and Societies
justfortheloveofit.org – 6901 members database (nb. as private members this will come under phase 2 permission based migration and sharing)

Pledged help

Knowledge Integration – Hosting of datbase, access protocalls
Schoolofeverything -Support + Office Space

Other Data Sources- MySociety and Groups Near You

If you’d like to pledge data to the cause, then drop me an email on thatcousinsboy@googlemail.com, or you can find out what other jobs/work needs doing on this project on the project map (please read the “how to edit, add and work from this map” thread first).


2 thoughts on “A Call to Collaboration Part 1.

  1. Hi Chris

    Semantic web, when it happens may well make it easier for users to access this information. However this relies on the introduction of the semantic web, which is an even greater challenge.

    We need to take steps to link community groups now, and create our own social solutions using the technology that we have available at present rather than waiting for the technology to provide the solutions we dream of.

    Cheers

    J

    Like

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