Geeks show government a better way to share information

Sometimes, the government isn't always best, and according to IT Pro, web savvy geeks are showing them a better way to share public information.

Last year, the UK's Cabinet Office ran a competition with a prize of £20,000 to anyone who can develop a new product that can improve public information communication.

Among the many ideas submitted, were a "Loo Finder" – a site accessible by mobile devices to let people find a toilet, and "School Maps", a site created by the Department for Children, Schools and Families allows people to enter their address and look up nearby schools. School Maps was one of the sites that won funding in last year's competition.

Alexis Cleveland, director general of transformational government at the Cabinet Office, said "The site was better than the DCSF could do, and it would cost the government nothing to create. Such achievements show that well-meaning citizens should be given access to data, as they're much better at sharing it than the government."

Some of the winners of the competition according to the Guardian included Location of Postboxes, a site that shows the user where the nearest post box is, UK Cycling, a site that allows people to plan their cycling route, and Can I Recycle It? a site that allows people to put in their post code and find out what their council recycles.

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I work for London local Authority (Waltham Forest, yes one of the Olympic boroughs *sigh*) and when I'm at staff conferences I'm often astounded by the lack of communication and forward thinking.
Not long ago i sat through a meeting where they were discussing what would be the best way to let the public know about the youth support services through-out the borough, not once was it mentioned that a website would be a good idea, when i mentioned it they said maybe they could update the councils website now and again with details...
...i defy anyone to find anything useful on their website!

Let the forward thinking people come up with ideas of what they want to see and what is the best way to do it and i guarantee that local services would be a lot easier and intuitive to use than they are now!

This isn't a bad idea. Getting the public involved in any scheme that the government setup can only be a good thing. I don't think we are going to find the next SharePoint or Meridio, but why not open a website that compiles all the tools given funding and build one big public services communications tool? Maybe that's still to come though, but it seems like the next logical step in the cycle to me.