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How The Knowledge Hub (Online community platform) helps local government professionals to connect and learn from each other.

Real stories from the members

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The benefits of sharing online

  1. 1. _________________________________________ How Knowledge Hub helps local government professionals to connect and learn from each other The benefits of sharing online
  2. 2. _________________________________________ Page 2 of 17 “Knowledge Hub is thought- provoking and creates new ideas by sharing with different people, with different thoughts”. Introduction Knowledge Hub is the Local Government Association's professional network which helps people in local government connect and share online in a secure environment. This is a collection of stories from a variety of regular Knowledge Hub users who work in councils. It describes their experiences of using Knowledge Hub and how their membership has led to a number of benefits to their work and their organisation. Host to more than 1,700 community groups covering a vast range of local government topics, Knowledge Hub connects thousands of councils, police authorities, fire authorities, central government, NHS, voluntary sector and private sector colleagues in sharing what they know to improve local government. Knowledge Hub uses professional networking tools to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and expertise across local government to support councils in learning from each other. By becoming a member of relevant groups and making personal connections with peers, Knowledge Hub helps its members to find, share and discuss information that is relevant to them and their work.
  3. 3. _________________________________________ Page 3 of 17 Contents 1. Directly representing the views of the sector Alistair Townsend, Milton Keynes Council 2. A richer knowledge sharing conversation Heidi de Wolf, Lincolnshire County Council 3. Connecting troubled families coordinators nationally James Hill, Portsmouth County Council 4. Seeking professional opinions Kate Holme, Hampshire County Council 5. Saving time and money Kieran Fitzsimmons, Bassetlaw District Council 6. It helps to talk Michael Gray, Royal Borough Kensington and Chelsea 7. Knowledge is power – when it’s shared by experts Nicola Underdown, Leicestershire County Council 8. A problem shared is a problem halved Paul Ambrose, Bournemouth Council 9. Finding the right people is easier now Peter Hall, Southend-On-Sea Borough Council 10. Building expertise through sharing specialist knowledge Riley Marsden, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council 11. Creating a brand through professional e-networking Sarah Coupe, Charnwood Borough Council 12. An instant resource to pool our resources Sue Dickinson, Bury Council 13. Smarter and faster working John Scott, Three Rivers District Council
  4. 4. _________________________________________ Page 4 of 17 “It saves considerable amounts of resource as it stops others in the public sector having to reinvent the wheel without realising”. “LACEF and the Knowledge Hub allows for the benefits of a local service with the advantages of much wider expertise available”. 1. Directly representing the views of the sector Alistair Townsend, Milton Keynes Council Revenue and Benefits Service Delivery Manager at Milton Keynes Council, Alistair Townsend, is a member of the Local Authority Civil Enforcement Forum (LACEF) group on Knowledge Hub. He finds the forum and library most useful. “It is a great way to share knowledge and to understand whether colleagues in other authorities are experiencing the same issues. It saves considerable amounts of resource as it stops others in the public sector having to reinvent the wheel without realising. Someone, somewhere in a similar position will have faced the same issue at some time and the emails ask everyone the question at the same time”. Alistair describes Knowledge Hub as “a platform to share best practice” and says “very often I find that even if I haven’t got involved in a discussion at the time, the information exchange is useful at a later date”. Alistair has benefitted most from making connections, exchanging ideas and sharing information. “There are over 300 billing authorities individually administering and collecting council tax and business rates and other debts. LACEF and the Knowledge Hub allows for the benefits of a local service with the advantages of much wider expertise available”. For Alistair, there are many areas where information from LACEF has led to work problems being solved. “The field within which we all work is heavily based in legislation and case law. There are numerous examples where members have been able to supply case details which assist in legislative determinations. Equally, there are many new initiatives that have been considered and being able to ask the community whether they have tried it before and what the issues to guard against could be”. “A real example of how the Knowledge Hub has assisted would be in relation to the Ministry of Justice’s review of bailiff law. LACEF is represented on a Working Group established by the MOJ to assist in the creation of the legislation. Being able to accurately reflect the views of the widest number of billing authorities in this process is very important and the Knowledge Hub has enabled us to directly consult with members, meaning that we have been able to be far more directly representative than we would otherwise have been”. LACEF is mainly aimed at promoting good practice in local authority enforcement. “Over the years, many practices have been changed as a result of discussions on the forum and considerable costs saved by receiving advice”.
  5. 5. _________________________________________ Page 5 of 17 “Having the opportunity to ask someone something outside of your organisation is powerful.” “Without Knowledge Hub we wouldn’t have the luxury of people’s knowledge behind the data. It provides context…” 2. A richer knowledge sharing conversation Heidi de Wolf, Lincolnshire County Council Heidi de Wolf, Senior Organisational Development Manager at Lincolnshire County Council has experienced many benefits as a Knowledge Hub user. Of key importance for her is networking with different people. She finds making connections with them very useful, and says “having the opportunity to ask someone something outside your organisation is powerful. It allows people to collaborate on issues that can change the world”. For example, when Heidi’s colleague connected with another user in Edinburgh around talent management, discussions led to an email exchange and then a telephone call, which made it a “richer knowledge sharing conversation”. Heidi herself connected with a user in Aberdeen and commented on a blog post they had written. Now they regularly connect on topics of interest. “You can connect with people who share your views or challenge them”. They now connect on LinkedIn too. Heidi likes to filter useful information and regularly amends her notification settings according to her current work priorities. “Not all of it will be relevant at the time, but you can always access it later. When you see something you like, you can share or comment straight away and search for more details later on. It’s on demand – access it as and when you need it.” She also enjoys how Knowledge Hub is “thought-provoking and creates new ideas by sharing with different people, with different thoughts”. Heidi often uses Knowledge Hub to access government papers others have published, “People find things in other areas and pull them together for you. People curate stuff for you so it’s easier to find things relevant to your job area”. Heidi believes Knowledge Hub presents a number of opportunities, such as increased networking, diversity of thought, and learning from other people’s strengths and lessons learnt. She says interest is “virally growing” at Lincolnshire. Heidi welcomes the fact that Knowledge Hub is open to everyone, but appreciates some people’s nervousness can be a barrier to sharing online. “What makes it powerful is people can contribute freely.” She likes the self-monitoring aspect, “your name and photo is displayed next to all materials you contribute”. “Without Knowledge Hub we wouldn’t have the luxury of people’s knowledge behind the data. It provides context to the topics of interest”.
  6. 6. _________________________________________ Page 6 of 17 “…a dynamic way of staying in touch with wider thinking and practice nationally.” “I have been steered in the right direction rather than reinventing the wheel.” 3. Connecting troubled families coordinators nationally James Hill, Portsmouth County Council James Hill, Troubled Families Coordinator at Portsmouth County Council is a member of the Supporting Troubled Families group. DCLG promoted this group as a tool for council officers working on the troubled families programme to share information. James uses the forum regularly to join in discussions and receives the email notifications which he finds very helpful and says, “I can quickly glance at new updates and what I need to focus on”. What James finds most beneficial is how he can use Knowledge Hub as a networking tool. “I now have access to all the troubled families coordinators nationally. It’s brilliant!” He found it particularly helpful when he was new in post around the same time as the programme started. “Everyone was experiencing the same challenges and having a forum to ask questions is really good. DCLG who sponsor the programme also use the group to signpost information and guidance. They post presentations and useful documents from meetings with coordinators.” There are a number of examples where Knowledge Hub has helped James in his role. Saving time is a recurring theme. “On a few occasions where I have posted a question and people have answered it, I have been steered in the right direction rather than reinventing the wheel.” James’ role is a focussed one with a specialist piece of work and sharing knowledge and information has provided him with real efficiencies. He says he finds it helpful when he “notices someone else has posted good nuggets of practice”. James describes how his membership of the troubled families group has helped him in his role, saying “it has improved my knowledge of the agenda I’m working on”. James is one of 152 troubled families coordinators nationally. He says his membership has “improved my contacts with the wider peer groups. It’s good when you come together and meet people you’ve been conversing with through Knowledge Hub”. James values his membership to the troubled families group and recognises how useful Knowledge Hub can be for other areas of work too. “Now I know it exists and how useful it’s been for me in this role, I may use it more expansively in my substantive role and explore it in more detail in the future”. James says Knowledge Hub is “extremely useful for sharing information and resolving problems across the wider community”. For him it “continues to be a really dynamic way of staying in touch with wider thinking and practice nationally”.
  7. 7. _________________________________________ Page 7 of 17 “It’s easier to put something on Knowledge Hub than having to think about who to email.” 4. Seeking professional opinions Kate Holme, Hampshire County Council Kate Holme, Trading Standards Officer at Hampshire County Council joined Knowledge Hub through some LGA Regulation work she was involved in, and describes Knowledge Hub as a “secure website to seek professional opinions”. Kate uses it for guidance and information, but mainly because it allows her to get different opinions on a various topics. “I use it because when someone asks me a specific labelling question, I know what I think, but it’s better to get a wider view. I’ll ask others for their opinion before getting back to the person with the question. One opinion is good but it’s nice to have it confirmed.” Kate tends to use the forums mostly and finds the activity here most helpful. As a member of a few groups related to her role, there can be a number of discussions of interest at any one time. Kate gains most benefit from the way Knowledge Hub provides responses at speed and with ease. “It’s easier to put something on Knowledge Hub than having to think about who to email. The people who tend to respond are usually people I know, but it’s easier and quicker this way.” Kate also values the occasions when she receives responses from people she doesn’t know. “I can get views from people I don’t know and the average person in the street’s view as well. Your opinion can hold more weight if you have asked other people their opinions too. It’s useful to get a second opinion on legislation.” An example of how being a member of a Knowledge Hub group has helped Kate is when a local business asked her a question relating to the recent horsemeat scandal and labelling rules. They were querying whether a product from Northern Ireland could be described as British on its food label. “I received quite a few responses including a view from a trading standards officer in North Yorkshire who had asked the same question and had an answer from a DEFRA lawyer. The responses also included links to additional information and guidance notes.” Knowledge Hub has really helped Kate in getting others to share their opinions. “Sometimes it’s difficult to get answers from government departments.” Kate describes an example when a contact of hers at the Department of Health posted an answer to a question which she had previously asked them, when someone else had asked the same question. Kate was pleased that they had read it too and that it helped to get “background opinion from a department”. Kate feels Knowledge Hub would be even more useful if more people contributed to it. “It’s only as good as the people who contribute to it.”
  8. 8. _________________________________________ Page 8 of 17 “Where in the past a supplier might have charged half a day’s consultancy, the Knowledge Hub can generate substantial savings.” “I added a question in the forum and within 15 minutes five people responded.” 5. Saving time and money Kieran Fitzsimmons, Bassetlaw District Council Kieran Fitzsimmons, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Development Officer at Bassetlaw District Council joined Knowledge Hub primarily to share knowledge and experiences with others doing in a similar role as him in other councils. Kieran uses certain software in his role and knows that colleagues in other councils do too, which means they are likely to face similar support issues. Kieran says, “With public sector budgets so stretched, the Knowledge Hub delivers invaluable support from other users. Where in the past a supplier might have charged half a day’s consultancy, the Knowledge Hub can generate substantial savings”. For Kieran, the forums are important because he can get answers quickly. A lot of the information he works with is operational, so rather than going through a manual if he has a GIS query, “someone in the community group might have done it before or know how to do it”. One example is when Kieran had a query about extracting data from a software product. “I added a question in the forum and within 15 minutes five people responded. In less than a day the matter was resolved.” Another example of where Kieran has been able to tap into the knowledge and expertise of others through Knowledge Hub is when he faced a coding problem with a system they use. “After speaking to people who have done it before, with their detailed guidance we can now do it in our council. Lots of people sent screen shots of how they did it and I talked to them on the phone. This was an innovation for our organisation.” Kieran appreciates the value of knowledge sharing and says “there is no point in spending days trying to figure something out myself. It’s about sharing knowledge to improve service delivery”. Open data is a big topic in local government now and Kieran says he “can see Knowledge Hub as a conduit for that”. As a small council, they are agile to change and can see many opportunities for the future. Kieran is keen to see where the opportunities are for open data and compliance. Kieran says “Knowledge Hub is an informative, collaborative, innovative, knowledgeable and crucial resource” and goes on to say, “As councils have less and less money, a data knowledge portal is invaluable”.
  9. 9. _________________________________________ Page 9 of 17 “I got useful feedback, which I would not have been able to source elsewhere.” 6. It helps to talk Michael Gray, Royal Borough Kensington and Chelsea Michael Gray, National Management Trainee at Royal Borough Kensington and Chelsea, joined Knowledge Hub on the advice of colleagues through the National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP). Michael joined his NGDP cohort group and took it upon himself to become a facilitator, learning the “nuts and bolts to develop a practical and more technical skill of online facilitation”. The main benefit Michael has found is “hearing about different people’s experiences”. He adds that it provides him with “candid information about what’s going well and what’s not going well”. He describes his group as a “helpful and supportive online network”. Michael finds the most useful Knowledge Hub features are the forums, library, and events. He says, “The library is a useful repository and there is a lot of information of real practical use”. An example of how Knowledge Hub has helped Michael’s group was when another member from a different council added a post about the difficulty they were experiencing with their placement. They were feeling quite demoralised and weren’t sure what to do. Michael explains, “The post received lots of responses about what approach to take and who to speak to. Sharing the experience, putting the question out there, and getting the feedback really helped”. Michael found the Knowledge Hub helpful when he was charged with procuring a trainer for a project management course. “As this course was relatively new, there were hardly any reviews, which made it difficult to know which training provider to use. This is where Knowledge Hub proved really helpful. By posting a question about the course and particular training providers in a project management practitioner group, I was able to get some useful feedback, which I would not have been able to source elsewhere.” Michael says, “Knowledge Hub is important to me. We all have a laptop and can go and sit anywhere, but that does not mean we get to speak to the right people. It’s an extra community online. “There are a lot of weird and wonderful groups out there. Sometimes you think you’re on your own in your interests and thoughts, but then you find a group which has lots of people interested and talking about it too. It’s about having that online community to draw upon.” Michael describes Knowledge Hub as a place to “connect online with interesting professionals”. He adds “Knowledge Hub definitely has a social aspect to it, but it isn’t like Facebook or Twitter. People seem to be using it for the right reasons”.
  10. 10. _________________________________________ Page 10 of 17 “…being able to engage with other related groups is essential. We have a voice we would not have had”. “I can’t help, but I know someone who can.” 7. Knowledge is power – when it’s shared by experts Nicola Underdown, Leicestershire County Council Nicola Underdown is the Improving Information Sharing and Management Exemplar Project Officer at Leicestershire County Council. She is a member of several Knowledge Hub groups, which she finds useful for work-related areas and for reflecting on personal views. Nicola describes Knowledge Hub as “Facebook for work!” She goes on to say it is “part of a suite of tools we use to engage with people”. Nicola also facilitates two groups. As part of the role, she checks her groups’ pages and other relevant groups for new content and information and cross-references them. The key things Knowledge Hub has helped Nicola do are “create a group membership for work areas, use tags to pull in relevant blogs for groups, and engage in discussion in forum threads”. Knowledge Hub has made a number of differences to the way Nicola and her team work, and the greatest impact has been the way the team communicates. “As a small team who are geographically dispersed, being able to engage with other related groups is essential. We have a voice we would not have had”. Live online discussions (‘hotseats’) have been another great way for Nicola to get the conversations flowing and pull out information and knowledge. As a facilitator, she might not always know the answers but she says “being able to put people in touch with each other is powerful. I can’t help, but I know someone who can”. Nicola finds the biggest challenges are around quantifying the benefits and impact of Knowledge Hub to others. People don’t understand the amount of time and effort required, or why it’s so important to get right at the start. Knowledge Hub brings a number of opportunities too. The key one for Nicola is connecting with a broad range of people and their expertise. “Being able to tap into experts’ knowledge is powerful”. Often work and projects can be of a political nature, which can mean layers of bureaucracy and hierarchies. Knowledge Hub gives Nicola direct access to a group of people without having to go through these layers and she finds this powerful too. If she comes across a potential project barrier or challenge, Nicola says that it’s good to be able to say she’s already spoken to someone else – an expert – and what their response was.
  11. 11. _________________________________________ Page 11 of 17 “It’s a continued resource and if problems come up you can ask questions and there are lots of people who can (and do) contribute to the answer.” “For a small local authority like us we can’t afford to employ lots of people in one area of work. Knowledge Hub is just the job and is fantastic.” 8. A problem shared is a problem halved Paul Ambrose, Bournemouth Council Paul Ambrose, Principal Engineer at Bournemouth Borough Council is interested in topics relating to flooding and drainage. As this is a complex and technical area, he has found the discussion and information in the FlowNet Knowledge Hub Group very valuable. Paul describes Knowledge Hub as a “valuable, friendly and accessible resource”. The features he finds most helpful are the forums and the library. “There are lots of discussions on flooding and drainage, and the library is set up with documents too. If I lose a copy or if a file is too big to email, it will always be on Knowledge Hub”. For Paul the biggest benefit is being able to connect with others who work in the same field as him, particularly because he is the only person working in flooding and drainage in his authority. “Flooding and drainage is an obscure and technical subject and if a question comes up no one else in the council will be able to answer it. Knowledge Hub puts you in contact with others – I don’t have the time and resources to investigate every flooding and drainage issue”. An example of how Knowledge Hub has helped Paul in his work is when he asked a question about water companies wanting to hand back some pipes to councils or land owners as they no longer consider them public sewers. “A lot of other local authorities have a similar problem and what helped me is when people said that they could reference case law and were able to explain it. This has helped to improve my own knowledge. It hasn’t helped me to get the answers yet but I know a lot more about the subject now than when I started”. Paul likes how Knowledge Hub “puts you in touch with people who deal with the same work issues as you. For a small local authority like us we can’t afford to employ lots of people in one area of work. Knowledge Hub is just the job and is fantastic. It’s a continued resource and if problems come up you can ask questions and there are lots of people who can (and do) contribute to the answer”. Paul certainly sees the opportunities of using Knowledge Hub. However, there is also a challenge because of the amount of information available. “There is so much information and knowledge out there and you have to know the right questions to ask to get the right answers. Often you know of a particular problem but you have to put it into simple language for others.”
  12. 12. _________________________________________ Page 12 of 17 “Collaboration is the key to going forward; sharing information and approaches saves costs, time and travel.” “…engaging, simple to use, targeted, informative and current.” 9. Finding the right people is easier now Peter Hall, Southend-On-Sea Borough Council Peter Hall, Senior Advisor for Equalities and Inclusion at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council primarily uses Knowledge Hub for his role as the equalities and inclusion lead. This involves keeping up to date with the latest thinking and current issues on equality and diversity, policy areas, welfare reform, demographics and other related areas. Knowledge Hub helps him “keep in touch in all of these areas”. Peter is a facilitator of the Southend and Essex Equality Network, which helps to promote and share best practice. He says it is “a place people can dip in and out of to access a repository of materials, key guidance and event information”. For Peter, the main benefit of using Knowledge Hub is that it allows him to access areas he is interested in and “find out what the current thinking is”. As a member of various groups he can use his membership to get a “quick touch on what’s going on”. He says, “I can get an overview which keeps me up to date and saves time”. An example is when councils across the country were using the group to share their differing approaches towards meeting the requirements of The Public Sector Equality Duty. “Discussing and agreeing a pragmatic approach to meeting the requirements of the Duty helped to ensure consistency across authorities who took part in the discussion.” Setting up the Southend and Essex Equality Network was an innovative decision for Peter in his work area. He says, “Collaboration is the key to going forward; sharing information and approaches saves costs, time and travel”. Another key benefit for Peter is having the ability to make the links to various individuals. Peter says “finding the right people is easier now and finding the right groups to ask questions to the right people cuts down on time to do that”. Peter describes Knowledge Hub as “engaging, simple to use, targeted, informative and current”. He finds it helpful because “it allows you to share your thoughts across the piece, picking up current thinking and conversations”.
  13. 13. _________________________________________ Page 13 of 17 “I have learnt a great deal about my job through the discussions I’ve had, and it’s helped me to keep up to date with news in my industry.” “Generally, I’d be lost without it.” 10. Learning specialist knowledge to build expertise Riley Marsden, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council Riley Marsden, Geographic Information Officer at Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council says Knowledge Hub is a “really useful resource and adds to best practice sharing”. Due to the nature of his unique role (this tends to be the case at other councils too), Riley says, “Knowledge Hub is ideal for me to access peers, knowledge and support from others in councils”. Knowledge Hub provides Riley with three key benefits:  making connections  sharing best practice  accessing specialist knowledge. “I have learnt a great deal about my job through the discussions I’ve had, and it’s helped me to keep up to date with news in my industry. It’s a wonderful way to put information out there for others to see.” Faced with a technical issue to integrate Local Land Property Gazetteer data and council tax data, Riley says, “I asked a question in the forum and explained the problem I was having. I asked if anyone had experienced the same thing and if anyone had overcome it. About four or five people in 24 hours said that they too had tried to do the same thing, had the same problem, and what they were doing about it. “The conversation continued outside of Knowledge Hub and with this collective knowledge I was able to get technical advice, help others, and in turn help my work.” Due to the niche area, in which Riley works, he says, “The case study material on Knowledge Hub gives me lots of new ideas to take away and implement here in my own council”. Riley also likes to pass on his knowledge to the groups he is a member of, “If there is something I think is useful I will share the work we have done here at Barnsley”. Riley believes that “if more people use it there will be more opportunities”. The Geoplace group Riley is a member of is well used and that is why it’s useful to him. People are using the tools there and are joining up”. Using Knowledge Hub has meant that Riley is less reliant on attending face-to-face events. “They are costly and sometimes hard to get to”. Although he values face-to- face opportunities, Riley compares attending one or two events per year and says, “You can get the same level of detail as looking at a year’s worth of posts on Knowledge Hub, where you can keep up-to-date in your field. You can’t compare the two. Generally, I’d be lost without it”.
  14. 14. _________________________________________ Page 14 of 17 “It’s good value time-wise, because you don’t have to leave your desk to take part.” 11. Creating a brand through professional e-networking Sarah Coupe, Charnwood Borough Council Sarah Coupe, Children and Young People’s Strategic Coordinator at Charnwood Borough Council joined Knowledge Hub as part of a project which involved running a network. She describes Knowledge Hub as “a professional e-networking site”. She spends 90 per cent of her time at work communicating, and says her network is an “extension of how we do what we do, where tools are available for the whole group to use”. During the network’s face-to-face meetings, a discussion will be taking place and someone will always say “put it on Knowledge Hub and start a forum”. This happens regularly now and Sarah happily admits that “it’s become almost like a competition to see who says it first!” To encourage the network to use Knowledge Hub, Sarah has stopped sending some things via email. She makes things available on Knowledge Hub only, knowing the network will want to access it. Since using Knowledge Hub Sarah says, “It has given us a brand as a network. It’s allowed us to progress what the network does in the face-to-face meetings and now there’s an interim place to go to. “It’s about building a brand for our network and making sure momentum carries on”. Over the course of the year the network is able to maintain its identity and there’s a base to support their quarterly face-to-face meetings. Knowledge Hub has helped motivate members and encourage communications between meetings. Sarah says it is “good value time wise because you don’t have to leave your desk to take part. It’s a quick way to get information and give information”. She likes find out what others are sharing and what they find most interesting. “It enhances your knowledge about what other services can provide, and you can signpost people to more information. People are working cooperatively and are not duplicating things”. Sarah intends to use the wiki feature to present some work on statistically profiling several community areas. These discussions will help illustrate the “stories behind the statistics”. An example of how Sarah’s network has helped others learn and share is with a group of teachers and other colleagues who were made redundant. “This group of people could have been isolated, but instead they are a part of the network and can find out what’s going on.” People of interest are now involved instead of going off doing their own thing and possibly wasting time and effort. “Being able to share information like this in a professional environment creates opportunities to start conversations and discuss new ideas”
  15. 15. _________________________________________ Page 15 of 17 “It’s great because I enjoy networking with people, and it means I don’t have to go on a long journey to speak to them – it can be instant”. “It’s a useful and valuable part of the support package.” 12. An instant resource to pool our resources Sue Dickinson, Bury Council Sue Dickinson, Childcare Sufficiency Manager at Bury Council joined Knowledge Hub through the Achieving Two Year Olds project she was project managing at Bury Council. A Knowledge Hub group was set up for those working on this project across all councils. What Sue finds most beneficial about using Knowledge Hub is being able to connect with people. She says, “It’s great because I enjoy networking with people, and it means I don’t have to go on a long journey to speak to them – it can be instant. If you’ve got a question or query you can put it out to a lot of people”. There are several examples where Knowledge Hub has helped Sue save time and effort. “When we first started looking at marketing for the project we managed to pull out a flyer which another local authority had done and use it to create our own”. Sue’s team were also able to gain more marketing ideas to promote the project’s outcomes to those who were eligible, and through the group membership she says “we got some cheap and cost-effective ideas which we could use here at Bury”. Sue goes on to explain how being a member of this Knowledge Hub group has been vital to the project, particularly in the development stage when things were hanging all the time. She says, “I could keep an eye on what other local authorities are doing, and Knowledge Hub is one way of communicating and picking up best practice. It’s a useful and valuable part of the support package”. Knowledge Hub provides a number of opportunities for Sue. She says, “It’s instant. You get reminders when new information has been added and you can click on the links you find useful”. For Knowledge Hub to be more useful more local authorities should be using it. Sue says, “More marketing should be done to promote and encourage local authorities to use it. It’s very different because it’s real sharing, not like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. It’s more about information sharing”. She believes Knowledge Hub is straightforward to use, “Once you get into it the system is easy to navigate. It’s cracking! And it works well for me. It is really useful”. Sue says Knowledge Hub is a “brilliant instant online network” and describes it as “an instant resource for sharing information”.
  16. 16. _________________________________________ Page 16 of 17 “A good way of learning what other people are doing.” “You can’t always do it on your own and you need other people to network with.” 13. Smarter and faster working John Scott, Three Rivers District Council John Scott, Environmental Health Manager at Three Rivers District Council uses Knowledge Hub regularly for part of his role as secretary for a working group. He organises meetings and distributes minutes, notes and agendas, and finds the library and notifications most helpful to him. Knowledge Hub provides John with “a good way of learning what other people are doing”. He says “picking up practice” in this way is helpful and adds, “I can distribute information as I use it”. Knowledge Hub also helps John keep up to date with what is going on in his area of work and on occasion has saved him time. Through his membership of the Food Hygiene Forum, John was able to access a list of disinfectants which comply with British Standards. “The problem was that many of the disinfectants lacked the correct labelling and you couldn’t tell if they complied with the standards. Someone in the Food Hygiene Forum compiled a central list of the products which did comply for us all to see”. Prior to joining Knowledge Hub, John relied on MS Outlook to send and receive emails to help him keep in touch with people. What John likes about Knowledge Hub is that “it’s smarter and faster working. You can’t always do it on your own and you need other people to network with”. However, as with any concept of change or innovation to improve working practices there are some people who will use Knowledge Hub and some who will not. John admits to having to continue to send emails to the ones who don’t use it, but says “more people need to embrace it for it to work better”. John recognises a “certain level of reluctance” from some people who have used Knowledge Hub and may have a “technophobe attitude”. John says Knowledge Hub is “good once you get used to it” and although there is a range of help materials available, he thinks “an interactive tutorial or virtual helper” would encourage some people. He says, “An online tutorial that appears as soon as you have joined which explains how to post a question and how to add a file would help”. John also feels that a mobile version of Knowledge Hub in the future would encourage more people to embrace it.
  17. 17. _________________________________________ Page 17 of 17 For more information please contact Knowledge Team Digital Communications and Knowledge Local Government Association Local Government House Smith Square London SW1P 3HZ Email: kmteam@local.gov.uk Telephone: 020 7664 3166 Contact the Local Government Association Telephone: 020 7664 3000 Email: info@lga.gov.uk Website: www.local.gov.uk © Local Government Association, October 2011 For a copy in Braille, larger print or audio, please contact us on 020 7664 3000. We consider all requests on an individual basis.

How The Knowledge Hub (Online community platform) helps local government professionals to connect and learn from each other. Real stories from the members

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