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April 2022

A zoom call (out of focus in the background) with a pot plant in the foreground.

We won't go back to how things were

A decision from mySociety: we're making a commitment that, when in-person events are practical again, we'll be keeping them hybrid — that means you'll be able to choose whether to attend offline or online.

Why? A whole load of reasons, which we've listed here. We think it's a no-brainer, and, if you're also thinking about returning to real-life events, we hope you'll agree.


Civic tech needs good quality data

The TICTeC logoThat's the issue that our discussants chewed over at the most recent TICTeC Civic Tech Surgery, where we heard from practitioners around the world on the many and varied barriers to obtaining the data that's needed to provide good civic tech.

From election data that isn't available until well after the election, to the hurdles you need to jump before authorities understand their duties under FOI, there were some vivid examples of where data provision just isn't everything we need it to be. 

You can catch up on that discussion here — watch the video, read the in-depth minutes or just skim the summary blog post.

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mySociety news

New funding from The National Lottery Community Fund

We're delighted to say that our Climate programme is receiving generous support from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activities in the UK.

Find out more about how this is helping us connect citizens and communities across the UK in this blog post.

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.

Global callout: are you working on tech for climate? 

Two mugs of coffee with 'coffe chat?' 'yeah' written on them in chocolate

Here's an invitation for our civic tech friends and associates outside the UK: if you're making tech for climate, anywhere in the world, we'd love to hear about it, and we'll show you our projects as well.

If you're not working on climate, but think you might find this useful, you're welcome too, of course!

Sign up here for our informal Zoom chat on April 12.

Hand gestures as someone speaks in front of a laptop

UK callout: tell us how you're using our climate tools!

Have you, or the organisation/campaign you're part of, used CAPE, the Climate Action Plan Explorer or the Council Climate Scorecards website? Perhaps these sites have informed some campaigning, opened up a conversation with your councillors, fed into a wider piece of research... or something else entirely.

We really want to understand the impacts of these, the first of our Climate Programme services, and especially the unexpected outcomes. Even better if your group or organisation doesn't have a primary focus around climate, but found the tools useful to support your main agenda. Please reply to this email to let us know if that's you, or if you know of anyone who fits the bill.


Courts on WhatDoTheyKnow: what's the verdict?

Statue of Liberty, blindfolded and holding scales

We've been talking over the pros and cons of adding courts to WhatDoTheyKnow, so that users could send them Freedom of Information requests easily and in public. Follow along with both sides of the argument, and see what our final decision was, in the blog post here.

An unusual challenge

One thing you can say about running WhatDoTheyKnow is that it's always surprising. The team worked through a puzzling set of circumstances last month, which you can read about here


Are you interested?

MPs' financial interests were in the news again recently. Our parliamentary website TheyWorkForYou makes them really easy to see on a per-MP basis, and, unlike the official source, also lets you see changes to the record over time.

But publishing this data is tricky, and has recently become trickier.

Charts and stats on a tablet, with someone's pen jabbing at them

What we're reading (and listening to)

And finally…

  • We were so sorry to hear that Richard, the Heavy Metal Handcyclist, has passed away. We wrote about his use of FOI in a blog post last August and were impressed by his spirit and dedication to making public paths more accessible for all.

    As a fitting tribute, a GoFundMe has been set up in his memory. Funds raised will go to three charities that are aligned to Richard's campaigns: should you wish, you can donate here.

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