Case Studies/Mosman Municipal Council
Make information resources, wherever possible, available under an open content licence, specifically a Creative Commons Australia licence, to promote the use and dissemination of Council’s materials while retaining Council’s rights of authorship. — Mosman Municipal Council Community Engagement Strategy
Mosman Municipal Council is the local government authority for the northern shores of Sydney Harbour in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. On 7 April 2009 the Council adopted its new Community Engagement Strategy with an intention to "inform", "consult", and "involve" their residence. The Strategies stated agenda is:
- '... to achieve a broader range of views to assist Council in planning services better to meet community needs and aspirations and to provide residents greater opportunities to contribute to and influence outcomes which directly affect their lives.'
The Council has committed to providing open data, utilising social media and networking, and licensing under Creative Commons licences to help them deliver on this Strategy.
True to their word, the Council engages with a number of social networking and social media spaces to help them deliver on their Strategy. For starters, they provide RSS feeds for key parts of the Council's website. The Council itself has a Twitter account, YouTube account and numerous blogs and pages with associated RSS feeds and it filters these through its FriendFeed account.
The Mosman Library also has a Flickr account, a blog (as well as a blog specifically for young people) and it posts videos of Library events on Vimeo. It even runs it's Mosman Reader program through Ning.
Another key part of their delivery on their Strategy going forward will be to run events at the Library around the internet and social media called Social Media Mob – Mosman (they're even using a hashtag for it! #smmm). This is modeled on the Social Media Surgeries events held in Birmingham in the United Kingdom (which have spun off a number of other localised events).
The Council also identifies the need to use open formats and open licences (in particular Creative Commons) to "to promote the use and dissemination of Council’s materials while retaining Council’s rights of authorship." In tandem, the Council prioritises "open data formats to allow cost-effective and efficient use of that information by other Council systems as well as external applications and users."
Using these techniques, the Council hopes to achieve its commitment to transparency and accountability.
The Strategy itself is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Australia licence. Both Flickr accounts use the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Genric licence.
Although they are certainly not abandoning more traditional and/or 'real-world' techniques for engaging citizens, they strategy demonstrates a strive to be best-practice in their use of new technologies. Part 3 of the Strategy, 'Involve', sums up the Council's motivations for engaging with Web 2.0 and Creative Commons. Some key priorities in the strategy include:
- Use of blogs, wikis and other social network and social media platforms "where two-way communication between Council and the community is encouraged and nurtured";
- Developing appropriate guidelines for the use of these technologies by the Council "to ensure on-line discussions are appropriate, intelligent and lawful";
- Encourage community contribution of local knowledge to collaborative spaces including Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap;
- Releasing Council materials, where possible, under a Creative Commons licence "to promote the use and dissemination of Council’s materials while retaining Council’s rights of authorship";
- Releasing Council materials, where possible, in open formats and as open data; and
- Building of an application programming interface (API) to that information.
To support these commitments, the Strategy also outlines intentions to train local Councillors to encourage their use of the internet in their official capacity. They also aim to support and mentor community members who are active online or who wish to be and to provide training and support for less digitally-engaged citizens (using their social media champions to provide peer-led training). Likewise, senior staff, managers and key professional officers will be kept abreast of the outcomes of online community engagement strategies.