Democracy, Transparency, Community

News from every corner of mySociety


Political polarisation, fake news and civil unrest

Citizens across many countries share similar concerns: can we believe the news we read? Why are we so politically divided? Will we ever find common ground again?

These are shaping up to be some of the dominant themes of TICTeC, our conference on the Impacts of Civic Technology.

Of course, Civic Tech hasn't got all the answers, but it might have some: come to TICTeC and hear how automated fact-checking, machine learning, citizen councils, research and activism are tackling today's ills from many fronts. See the full schedule here.


You may have followed along with our progress as we develop Keep It In The Community (KIITC) into a database of the places and spaces across England that are of value to local people and communities.

We’ve reached a new phase in its evolution: individuals and councils can now add their own data: see how that works here.


Understanding the full picture, with FOI

The Bureau Local used WhatDoTheyKnow Pro for a UK-wide investigation released this week. They've gathered information on the public spaces such as libraries, community centres and playgrounds sold by councils across the country as they deal with severe budget cuts under austerity.

WhatDoTheyKnow Pro's batch functionality allows you to make requests to multiple authorities, so you can build up a full picture of information which may previously only have been seen in isolation.

See their findings — and search to see what's been lost from your own local area — here.

Looking at FOI from the authority side

Thanks to the Local Digital Fund, we're currently building on the work we did last year with Hackney council.

With the help of Hackney and four more authorities across the UK, we're exploring how to improve the workflow of council staff who manage and respond to FOI and Subject Access requests. Read more here.

The ICO wants your views

The Information Commissioner's Office — which upholds rights to information in the UK — is seeking views on its new strategy. But you'll have to hurry; the consultation closes tomorrow.

Did you know that you can subscribe to our special interest newsletters too? Get an extra monthly bulletin on Democracy & Campaigning, Freedom of Information, Better Cities & Councils, or Research. Pick and choose your mySociety newsletters here.


How to add new politicians to Wikidata

Adding political data to Wikidata can be a daunting process for those who are new to the whole concept — and yet having this data in place is a massive help to anyone wanting to run a digital parliamentary project like our own TheyWorkForYou.

As part of our ongoing EveryPolitician project, we've been helping to lower the barriers.

And because it's always easiest to learn by watching someone else, Georgie and Alex have made a series of videos that take you through the process step by step. See them all in a playlist here.

Your questions answered

Some questions appear in our User Support inbox again and again.

It seemed like a good idea to create some in-depth responses — then we can we can link to them whenever those issues come up:

And finally...

Good with Perl? Fancy occasional work with mySociety? Look no further.

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Image credits: Restaurant - Adrien Olichon. Sold from uder you: Hannah Eachus, via Bureau Local

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