November 22, 2023

Weak Signals Of Local Civic Democracy

Sharing this life hack* after a random lunchtime conversation with Zarino (who works for mySociety) made me realise it's not necessarily obvious behaviour but might be useful for others.

The What do they know website is an excellent tool to help people submit Freedom of Information requests to public bodies. The fact that the requests and responses are all shared on the web means that the information is shared more widely than it would have been if just shared with the original requester.

On the site there's a page for all requests for each public body. For example, this is the What Do They Know page for Liverpool City Council. More importantly, there's also an RSS feed (strictly speaking an Atom feed, but what do you think this is, 2004?!? ;-) for each body. Sadly it doesn't seem to be linked in the main text on the body's page, but it is in the metadata for the page so your RSS reader's autodiscovery should (hopefully) find it. I use the Want My RSS add-on for Firefox so it just shows up in the address bar on my browser.

That means I can add the feeds for the local council, the local enterprise partnership, universities and NHS trusts and the like to my RSS reader and then have a background source of information about what my fellow citizens care about and see when items I'm interested in float past.

And if you're RSS-curious, check out About Feeds for more details on what RSS is and how to get a reader (I use Thunderbird myself, but that's mostly because I also use that as my email client).

* It's obviously not a "life hack" but I don't have a useful term to describe it :-)

Posted by Adrian at November 22, 2023 01:44 PM | TrackBack

This blog post is on the personal blog of Adrian McEwen. If you want to explore the site a bit further, it might be worth having a look at the most recent entries or look through the archives or categories over on the left.

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