The great thing about blogs is that they make you think and the comments have great insights. From a response to a earlier blog post about a transparency contest, came the following idea. The comment asked how Councils could get the public to understand what it is that Council officers do all day. I propose a 24hr video diary chronicling a day in the life a council. The day in the life story is already a staple in Council newspapers see the example from Cumbria. http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/eLibrary/Content/Internet/544/932/3907115318.pdf
What I am interested in whether we could do the following: Have a video diary about an officer, or several officers, or something across the whole council
The idea is that you could film all the activity by the Council in one day and then merge the footage into one story with multiple story lines or just a montage of video clips shot by officers on during their daily work. Alternatively, you could follow several officers across the Council like a Bud Greenspan Olympics Documentary and see how their day starts, finishes and the highlights in between. The idea has been around for a long time, it is just now is a chance to take it to a Council level with less expensive social media devices in abundance.
On previous day in the life documentaries, see http://sheffieldblog.com/2011/05/29/all-in-a-day-bbc4-sheffield-documentary/
What might be interesting, and I wonder if anyone else has done it, is to have a video blog of different council workers for a day. You could shoot footage for a week and then edit over a weekend to show. The fly on the wall type of video documentary would get to see workers daily work interacting with the public and each other. One way to do it would be to have a couple of cameras following a couple of officers or give lots of officers’ cameras and splice the day through.
I think there would be a compelling story for the public to realize the range of issues a large unitary council covers. A council can cover issues ranging from birth to death and everything in between. Perhaps what the public do not realize is that Council often carry out public health funerals. Is there anything lonelier to consider than Councils having to bury people at public expense because there is no one willing or able to claim the body?
In the same day, a Council can be clearing flytipping from a backcountry lane. It could also repair a highway. Then check the food safety at a restaurant. At 5pm, the work does not stop. Overnight, there is work to be done as social care staff are on call for the looked after children or those in secure accommodation. The Council workers may be out dealing with Anti-social behaviour or supporting the police on weekend activities. The elderly in care who may have a 24hr monitoring service have to be looked at. In the morning, the cycle begins again, as breakfasts are prepared for schoolchildren or council employees, and the benefits teams prepare their interviews for claimants.
We could call it “all in a day’s work: your local council” or something like that. I know there are short promotional or corporate films made (see http://vimeo.com/7429177) for a video about the Isle of Wight Council. There is a feature film of youtube videos capture a day: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/06/life-in-a-day-documentary_n_805439.html
The video would be a chance for a Council to tell their story. The public may think of a Council as the Leader or the Chief Executive, but it is hundres of other people with different stories to tell. I wonder if that would be a way to make Council work, transparent and let the public know what work they do for them that is less visible than the bin collection or tax collection.
The National Geographic magazine used to do a day in the life with photos and timelines, and this could be expanded to the video. I suppose there are legal disclaimers and waivers to sign or overcome, but I am sure these could be resolved when needed.
I would be interested in your thoughts. Do you think this would work? Do you think it would add transparency to a Council? Would it help the public understand what a Council does each day? Is this something you would nominate your Council to do?