Hello people! Yes, Saturday was that time of the year again, when I get up at stupid-o-clock in the morning to catch a train from Lincoln to London town just so that I can spend the day in the presence of my peers and luminaries at the annual UKGovCamp. As always, it was a day of vibrant energy, excessive thinking and uber-geekery. Our generous hosts for 2011 were Microsoft, their lush offices on Victoria Street giving us plenty of space to spread out, think and chat about Gov related issues and tech. Kudos to Dave Briggs and Steph Grey for putting the day together, as well as the other sponsors. These do’s just keep getting better and better…

Anyway, I attended a number of sessions as well as hosting one (more on that later once I’ve had a chance to review a vid that Liz Azyan took) and I’ve got a number of notes (taken on my shiny new iPad, a device I was seeing a lot of around the camp) which I will be writing up. So, without further ado, let’s jump into the first of those writeups…

Dan Slee and Andy Mabett talk Flickr, Wikipedia and Open Streetmap
photo by Paul Henderson

The first session I attended was from Dan Slee and Andy Mabbett who put together the Walsall Localgovcamp last year. They were dicsussing the use of Flickr, Wikipedia and Open Streetmap for local authorities. One of the things we featured on the Lincoln website redesign was Flickr, promoting a group of photographers on our homepage with a random image, but I was very interested in their thoughts on the use of Wikipedia and Open Streetmap. I’ve summarised and expanded my notes for each below…


Photos on Flickr can often be reused on other websites, but look out for the license on each shot to figure out whether the photographer is happy with reuse.

As the social aspects of Flickr are very strong, authorities wishing to use it should look to local groups of photographers and approach them. Look to invite the use of their photos in exchange, perhaps, for allowing them access to places and buildings they may otherwise not be able to get into so that they can take photos. You could agree on conditions for reuse, as well as what they can and cannot do.

While using community images should not be considered as an option for replacing freelancers, it could become more valid as purse strings are tightened; it also shows the council as interacting in a positive way.

Flickr groups can also be used corporately, for example to share high quality images with the press. Used wisely this could cut down on the time to supply people with supporting images for stories.


Images appearing on Wikipedia are generally open licenced, possibly with fair use. The Wikimedia Commons repository, however, is a database of freely reusable media including images.

You can use content from Wikipedia with an attribute to the original source, but this content cannot then be copyrighted as your own. Ideally it should be marked using a footnote or block quote to identify content from another source.

Due to the high usage of Wikipedia, authorities should be keeping an eye on content in Wikipedia relating to them and making sure that they accurately represent their organisation. The articles can be edited to be neutral (in that they cannot show the organisation in a positive or negative light) but this must be done from an account which can be traced to an individual, not an organisation. It is suggested that editors should join the discussion on individual articles to talk about changes.

It is also best to ensure links back to main website from Wikipedia are healthy and relevant, supporting content where appropriate.

Open Streetmap

This was particularly interesting and, for me, showed open streetmap in a light I’d not considered.

In its most basic form, Open Streetmap is a wiki map of the world which is editable by anyone. But under the hood, it is not actually a mapping project, rather a project to create a database of geographic information. It is made up of points and paths, each of which contains metadata which is fully searchable and usable in geoapps.

It was suggested that corporate editors should be involved in cleaning up and validating this data as it can be drawn from the system and used; it is more open and less ambiguous than Google Maps as it falls under creative commons licence.

Editors should look to and discuss with the local mapping community, sharing changes as they occur; as with Wikipedia, the internal discussion system can be used for this.

Additionally, maps from Open Streetmap can be used in printed materials with no issue.