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Coventry crowdsources opinion on public service reform

Jenny Williams

Coventry has become the first UK city to hold a web-based public crowdsourcing event, inviting ideas from residents on reform of council services.

The interactive public consultation, called CovJam, was based on a three-tier web application developed by IBM. Throughout the three-day event, Coventry's residents spent an average of 2.5 hours logged in to the site and generated more than 2,000 posts on topics ranging from investment and employment to security and general improvements.

IBM has been hosting "jams" since 2001 as a way of crowdsourcing community areas, such as security topics for Nato. Liam Cleaver, IBM's global program director for jams and collaborative innovation, said, "This was the first time we had done a jam for a particular city. The whole experience is one of trying to build shared experiences and perspectives.

"We are seeing increasing interest from the public sector about how to engage citizens directly in a meaningful and constructive way. Jams are a very important way of bringing people together who may not have had time to meet to discuss issues."

The data collected from the interactive forum will be analysed by IBM's Cobra software to identify the themes of participant conversation and match these to the areas of the community discussing them, helping to inform Coventry County Council's development policies.


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