Working from the same
page map means less meetings
There are a lot of things I never knew I needed a map for. Most smartphones can show you a map, and more importantly, show you where you are on the map. This capability has been exploited by a surprising number of smartphone apps. Who knew there was a spatial dimension to restaurant reviews, tracking your fitness, reminders, managing your photos… and stalking your friends and family?
In so many of our personal and social situations we now know how useful understanding our location is. What about your work?
When you need a map, there is no substitute for… a map. When discussing the changes required to a proposed subdivision layout, you need to be looking at the map. When negotiating the alignment of new infrastructure, describing alternative layouts in words doesn’t work. When communicating the design options for a proposed sporting facility for community feedback, there must be a picture.
Can your Council have these spatial conversations online? Or, do you all gather over a paper map in a meeting room to assess that major development application? Do you shuffle design documents back and forward by email with the consulting engineers engaged to design the new arterial connection road? Is the feedback you receive from your community on new facilities and land use planning limited to words?
Spatial collaboration solutions, such as ShareMap are like a sketch pad overlay to your GIS system. Everybody involved in the discussion can explain their ideas visually. As different options are explored, version control provides a time lapse view of how the discussion has progressed and allows you to roll back to an earlier version. With granular access controls, everyone can be involved in the discussion without seeing information they shouldn’t. As an overlay, spatial conversations don’t affect the integrity of your corporate GIS data, but final outcomes can be folded back in without the need for manual capture.
If people can draw their ideas on the map, maybe you could review major projects or assess major development applications without a meeting. I’m all for less meetings!
I am looking to start a discussion about the projects and processes in local government that will benefit from everyone working from the same map. If you have a meeting you could avoid if you could ‘doodle’ your thoughts on a map, please tell me about it.
Image courtesy stock.xchg
Lies, damned lies and inescapable truths
A story today of best intentioned but made up statistics and some common sense wisdom hidden amongst it all.
One of my favourite statistics is that 92.84% of all statistics are made up. At least!
I am sure you’ve all been to a presentation where someone cites the oft quoted statistic that we only recall 10% of what we hear, 20% of what we read…. and 80% of what we do. I’ve always intrinsically mistrusted this assertion because real research is hardly going to produce such round numbers, so elegantly spaced. Agreeing with the sentiment, I’ve always been content to let the ‘white lie’ passed unchallenged. Not Will Thalheimer! He’s got to the bottom of this well accepted falsehood, tracing it all the way back to on the job training in the oil industry as early as the 1940’s in a detailed blog post.
Despite there being no research to back up these too neat numbers, it is hard to argue that doing is the best form of learning. It’s one of the advantages of hosted software that is less talked about; the ability to try before you buy. It is particularly useful in an area I’m working in at the moment - digital signatures. Let’s face it most people don’t really know what a digital signature is let alone have any experience with how they work in practice.
The company I’m working with, Secured Signing, offer a free personal account that lets you sign up to 3 documents each month. For business there is an evaluation account that gives you the chance to sign 25 documents free of charge and obligation. This is a very practical way to both understand how digital signatures can be used in your work and personal life and to assess the ease of use of a particular digital signature service.
Go on! Give it a go! What have you got to lose…
Your reality is determined by your point of view.
When you are inside the organisation, you contribute a detailed understanding to solving the problem. Sometimes though you are too close to the problem to be able to ask impertinent questions.
The value of bringing in a fresh set of eyes is often a broader perspective that can question implicit assumptions and put the problem in a broader context. A different point of view can create a different reality where multiple solutions are possible.
Friday Vid: Femto-photography
The digital camera market is a bit obsessed with megapixels. Ramesh Raskar couldn’t care less about that; he’s into speed.
If you thought a nanosecond was fast, then a picosecond is faster and a femtosecond faster again. So what does the world look like at a trillion frames per second, when you can visibly see the motion of light? Weirder than you expect…
The kicker for me is at the end where Ramesh explains they had to ‘correct’ the image because at this ‘speed’ you start to see the changes in time Einstein predicted when you neared the speed of light!
Is this the best org chart you’ve ever seen?
I know the cool kids are all talking about open data and local gov 2.0 but good communication is good communication even if it is on a boring old website and something as prosaic as an organisation chart.
This presentation of who’s who in Council really struck me because it completely abandons the traditional boxes and lines. Those things always look really terrible. The layout @HoldfastBay have opted for is visually much more pleasing, makes intelligent use of colour while still conveying the relationships and hierarchy in the organisation. 10/10!
Such an elegant presentation of the main points of debate about the tracking of our interactions on the internet.
I’ve been peripherally conscious of the ‘Do Not Track’ issue and debate but not personally engaged. Then this week I watched a TED presentation by Gary Kovacs of the Mozilla Foundation and a few days later had this video brought to my attention by Nancy Duarte.
So what does it all mean? I think the key issue here is permission. Information we might be happy to share with an organisation we trusted, is something we resent being collected without our permission by organisations we don’t know.
While people are right in mostly perceiving this as risk, there is also an opportunity. Commercial organisations actively seek to understand their audience whereas government agencies haven’t seriously considered how things could be better if they understood individuals in their communities better. Uniformity is confused with equity.
Let’s say you want feedback on a new cycle commuting strategy, wouldn’t it be handy to know who in the community already cycles to work? If you need volunteers to support a music festival wouldn’t it help to know who likes the style of music being promoted? In an emergency wouldn’t it be useful to get in touch with people in clubs and associations who can get a message to all their members? You get the idea…
I think the creepiness factor of the current tracking models make them completely unsuitable for government. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking for better ways to understand our community. Methods that are automated, cost effective and don’t require people to fill in endless surveys. Methods that are open, honest and rely on people’s explicit permission.
Fear of Flying
The undocumented advantage of the cloud: taking out the leap of faith
You’ve probably seen the videos of Jeb Corliss practicing the form of controlled falling he calls terrain flying. He zips along just metres away from cliffs and mountain sides at hundreds of kilometres an hour.
This is an activity that has no low risk learning curve. You either jump and get started, or you don’t.
This all or nothing approach has traditionally been the way with enterprise software. You jumped off a big capital expenditure cliff and made the bet your organisation and your people would adopt the system and derive value from it.
One of the less discussed advantages of hosted software is the way it lends itself to smaller, low risk starts. You can use it in a single work group or for a single process as hands on, very practical evaluation. Once you have some success on a small scale, you can rollout the solution to other processes, other workgroups. That scaling up is easy to do with hosted software.
Many hosted solutions will even offer a free evaluation period.
Hosted solutions are the ideal way to get a practical understanding of new tools and the ways they can improve your work without having to bet the farm up front. If you can’t think of a hosted solution to try this for yourself, let me make a suggestion.
Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up