The benefits of sharing online

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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 governmentprofessionals to connect and learn from each otherThe benefits of sharing online
  2. 2. _________________________________________Page 2 of 17“Knowledge Hub is thought-provoking and creates new ideasby sharing with different people,with different thoughts”.IntroductionKnowledge Hub is the Local Government Associations professional network which helpspeople in local government connect and share online in a secure environment.This is a collection of stories from a variety of regularKnowledge Hub users who work in councils. Itdescribes their experiences of using Knowledge Huband how their membership has led to a number ofbenefits 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, centralgovernment, NHS, voluntary sector and private sector colleagues in sharing what they know toimprove local government.Knowledge Hub uses professional networking tools to facilitate the sharing of knowledge andexpertise across local government to support councils in learning from each other. By becominga member of relevant groups and making personal connections with peers, Knowledge Hubhelps its members to find, share and discuss information that is relevant to them and their work.
  3. 3. _________________________________________Page 3 of 17Contents1. Directly representing the views of the sectorAlistair Townsend, Milton Keynes Council2. A richer knowledge sharing conversationHeidi de Wolf, Lincolnshire County Council3. Connecting troubled families coordinators nationallyJames Hill, Portsmouth County Council4. Seeking professional opinionsKate Holme, Hampshire County Council5. Saving time and moneyKieran Fitzsimmons, Bassetlaw District Council6. It helps to talkMichael Gray, Royal Borough Kensington and Chelsea7. Knowledge is power – when it’s shared by expertsNicola Underdown, Leicestershire County Council8. A problem shared is a problem halvedPaul Ambrose, Bournemouth Council9. Finding the right people is easier nowPeter Hall, Southend-On-Sea Borough Council10. Building expertise through sharing specialist knowledgeRiley Marsden, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council11. Creating a brand through professional e-networkingSarah Coupe, Charnwood Borough Council12. An instant resource to pool our resourcesSue Dickinson, Bury Council13. Smarter and faster workingJohn Scott, Three Rivers District Council
  4. 4. _________________________________________Page 4 of 17“It saves considerable amounts ofresource as it stops others in the publicsector having to reinvent the wheelwithout realising”.“LACEF and the Knowledge Hub allowsfor the benefits of a local service with theadvantages of much wider expertiseavailable”.1. Directly representing the views of the sectorAlistair Townsend, Milton Keynes CouncilRevenue and Benefits Service DeliveryManager at Milton Keynes Council, AlistairTownsend, is a member of the LocalAuthority 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 tounderstand whether colleagues in otherauthorities are experiencing the sameissues. It saves considerable amounts ofresource as it stops others in the publicsector having to reinvent the wheel withoutrealising. Someone, somewhere in a similarposition will have faced the same issue atsome time and the emails ask everyone thequestion at the same time”.Alistair describes Knowledge Hub as “aplatform to share best practice” and says“very often I find that even if I haven’t gotinvolved in a discussion at the time, theinformation exchange is useful at a laterdate”.Alistair has benefitted most from makingconnections, exchanging ideas and sharinginformation. “There are over 300 billingauthorities individually administering andcollecting council tax and business ratesand other debts. LACEF and the KnowledgeHub allows for the benefits of a local servicewith the advantages of much wider expertiseavailable”.For Alistair, there are many areas whereinformation from LACEF has led to workproblems being solved. “The field withinwhich we all work is heavily based inlegislation and case law. There arenumerous examples where members havebeen able to supply case details whichassist in legislative determinations. Equally,there are many new initiatives that havebeen considered and being able to ask thecommunity whether they have tried it beforeand what the issues to guard against couldbe”.“A real example of how the Knowledge Hubhas assisted would be in relation to theMinistry of Justice’s review of bailiff law.LACEF is represented on a Working Groupestablished by the MOJ to assist in thecreation of the legislation. Being able toaccurately reflect the views of the widestnumber of billing authorities in this processis very important and the Knowledge Hubhas enabled us to directly consult withmembers, meaning that we have been ableto be far more directly representative thanwe would otherwise have been”.LACEF is mainly aimed at promoting goodpractice in local authority enforcement.“Over the years, many practices have beenchanged as a result of discussions on theforum and considerable costs saved byreceiving advice”.
  5. 5. _________________________________________Page 5 of 17“Having the opportunity to ask someonesomething outside of your organisationis powerful.”“Without Knowledge Hub we wouldn’thave the luxury of people’s knowledgebehind the data. It provides context…”2. A richer knowledge sharing conversationHeidi de Wolf, Lincolnshire County CouncilHeidi de Wolf, Senior OrganisationalDevelopment Manager at LincolnshireCounty Council has experienced manybenefits as a Knowledge Hub user.Of key importance for her is networking withdifferent people. She finds makingconnections with them very useful, and says“having the opportunity to ask someonesomething outside your organisation ispowerful. It allows people to collaborate onissues that can change the world”.For example, when Heidi’s colleagueconnected with another user in Edinburgharound talent management, discussions ledto an email exchange and then a telephonecall, which made it a “richer knowledgesharing conversation”.Heidi herself connected with a user inAberdeen and commented on a blog postthey had written. Now they regularly connecton topics of interest. “You can connect withpeople who share your views or challengethem”. They now connect on LinkedIn too.Heidi likes to filter useful information andregularly amends her notification settingsaccording to her current work priorities. “Notall of it will be relevant at the time, but youcan always access it later. When you seesomething you like, you can share orcomment straight away and search for moredetails later on. It’s on demand – access itas and when you need it.”She also enjoys how Knowledge Hub is“thought-provoking and creates new ideasby sharing with different people, withdifferent thoughts”.Heidi often uses Knowledge Hub to accessgovernment papers others have published,“People find things in other areas and pullthem together for you. People curate stufffor you so it’s easier to find things relevantto your job area”.Heidi believes Knowledge Hub presents anumber of opportunities, such as increasednetworking, diversity of thought, andlearning from other people’s strengths andlessons learnt. She says interest is “virallygrowing” at Lincolnshire.Heidi welcomes the fact that KnowledgeHub is open to everyone, but appreciatessome people’s nervousness can be a barrierto sharing online. “What makes it powerful ispeople can contribute freely.” She likes theself-monitoring aspect, “your name andphoto is displayed next to all materials youcontribute”.“Without Knowledge Hub we wouldn’t havethe luxury of people’s knowledge behind thedata. It provides context to the topics ofinterest”.
  6. 6. _________________________________________Page 6 of 17“…a dynamic way of staying in touch withwider thinking and practice nationally.”“I have been steered in the right directionrather than reinventing the wheel.”3. Connecting troubled families coordinators nationallyJames Hill, Portsmouth County CouncilJames Hill, Troubled Families Coordinator atPortsmouth County Council is a member ofthe Supporting Troubled Families group.DCLG promoted this group as a tool forcouncil officers working on the troubledfamilies programme to share information.James uses the forum regularly to join indiscussions and receives the emailnotifications which he finds very helpful andsays, “I can quickly glance at new updatesand what I need to focus on”.What James finds most beneficial is how hecan use Knowledge Hub as a networkingtool. “I now have access to all the troubledfamilies coordinators nationally. It’s brilliant!”He found it particularly helpful when he wasnew in post around the same time as theprogramme started. “Everyone wasexperiencing the same challenges andhaving a forum to ask questions is reallygood. DCLG who sponsor the programmealso use the group to signpost informationand guidance. They post presentations anduseful documents from meetings withcoordinators.”There are a number of examples whereKnowledge Hub has helped James in hisrole. Saving time is a recurring theme. “On afew occasions where I have posted aquestion and people have answered it, Ihave been steered in the right directionrather than reinventing the wheel.”James’ role is a focussed one with aspecialist piece of work and sharingknowledge and information has providedhim with real efficiencies. He says he finds ithelpful when he “notices someone else hasposted good nuggets of practice”.James describes how his membership of thetroubled families group has helped him inhis role, saying “it has improved myknowledge of the agenda I’m working on”.James is one of 152 troubled familiescoordinators nationally. He says hismembership has “improved my contactswith the wider peer groups. It’s good whenyou come together and meet people you’vebeen conversing with through KnowledgeHub”.James values his membership to thetroubled families group and recognises howuseful Knowledge Hub can be for otherareas of work too. “Now I know it exists andhow useful it’s been for me in this role, I mayuse it more expansively in my substantiverole and explore it in more detail in thefuture”.James says Knowledge Hub is “extremelyuseful for sharing information and resolvingproblems across the wider community”. Forhim it “continues to be a really dynamic wayof staying in touch with wider thinking andpractice nationally”.
  7. 7. _________________________________________Page 7 of 17“It’s easier to put something onKnowledge Hub than having to thinkabout who to email.”4. Seeking professional opinionsKate Holme, Hampshire County CouncilKate Holme, Trading Standards Officer atHampshire County Council joinedKnowledge Hub through some LGARegulation work she was involved in, anddescribes Knowledge Hub as a “securewebsite to seek professional opinions”.Kate uses it for guidance and information,but mainly because it allows her to getdifferent opinions on a various topics. “I useit because when someone asks me aspecific labelling question, I know what Ithink, but it’s better to get a wider view. I’llask others for their opinion before gettingback to the person with the question. Oneopinion is good but it’s nice to have itconfirmed.”Kate tends to use the forums mostly andfinds the activity here most helpful. As amember of a few groups related to her role,there can be a number of discussions ofinterest at any one time.Kate gains most benefit from the wayKnowledge Hub provides responses atspeed and with ease. “It’s easier to putsomething on Knowledge Hub than havingto think about who to email. The people whotend to respond are usually people I know,but it’s easier and quicker this way.”Kate also values the occasions when shereceives responses from people she doesn’tknow. “I can get views from people I don’tknow and the average person in the street’sview as well. Your opinion can hold moreweight if you have asked other people theiropinions too. It’s useful to get a secondopinion on legislation.”An example of how being a member of aKnowledge Hub group has helped Kate iswhen a local business asked her a questionrelating to the recent horsemeat scandaland labelling rules. They were queryingwhether a product from Northern Irelandcould be described as British on its foodlabel. “I received quite a few responsesincluding a view from a trading standardsofficer in North Yorkshire who had asked thesame question and had an answer from aDEFRA lawyer. The responses alsoincluded links to additional information andguidance notes.”Knowledge Hub has really helped Kate ingetting others to share their opinions.“Sometimes it’s difficult to get answers fromgovernment departments.” Kate describesan example when a contact of hers at theDepartment of Health posted an answer to aquestion which she had previously askedthem, when someone else had asked thesame question. Kate was pleased that theyhad read it too and that it helped to get“background opinion from a department”.Kate feels Knowledge Hub would be evenmore useful if more people contributed to it.“It’s only as good as the people whocontribute to it.”
  8. 8. _________________________________________Page 8 of 17“Where in the past a supplier might havecharged half a day’s consultancy, theKnowledge Hub can generate substantialsavings.”“I added a question in the forum andwithin 15 minutes five peopleresponded.”5. Saving time and moneyKieran Fitzsimmons, Bassetlaw District CouncilKieran Fitzsimmons, GeographicInformation Systems (GIS) DevelopmentOfficer at Bassetlaw District Council joinedKnowledge Hub primarily to shareknowledge and experiences with othersdoing in a similar role as him in othercouncils.Kieran uses certain software in his role andknows that colleagues in other councils dotoo, which means they are likely to facesimilar support issues. Kieran says, “Withpublic sector budgets so stretched, theKnowledge Hub delivers invaluable supportfrom other users. Where in the past asupplier might have charged half a day’sconsultancy, the Knowledge Hub cangenerate substantial savings”.For Kieran, the forums are importantbecause he can get answers quickly. A lot ofthe information he works with is operational,so rather than going through a manual if hehas a GIS query, “someone in thecommunity group might have done it beforeor know how to do it”.One example is when Kieran had a queryabout extracting data from a softwareproduct. “I added a question in the forumand within 15 minutes five peopleresponded. In less than a day the matterwas resolved.”Another example of where Kieran has beenable to tap into the knowledge and expertiseof others through Knowledge Hub is whenhe faced a coding problem with a systemthey use. “After speaking to people whohave done it before, with their detailedguidance we can now do it in our council.Lots of people sent screen shots of howthey did it and I talked to them on the phone.This was an innovation for our organisation.”Kieran appreciates the value of knowledgesharing and says “there is no point inspending days trying to figure something outmyself. It’s about sharing knowledge toimprove service delivery”.Open data is a big topic in local governmentnow and Kieran says he “can seeKnowledge Hub as a conduit for that”. As asmall council, they are agile to change andcan see many opportunities for the future.Kieran is keen to see where theopportunities are for open data andcompliance.Kieran says “Knowledge Hub is aninformative, collaborative, innovative,knowledgeable and crucial resource” andgoes on to say, “As councils have less andless money, a data knowledge portal isinvaluable”.
  9. 9. _________________________________________Page 9 of 17“I got useful feedback, which I would nothave been able to source elsewhere.”6. It helps to talkMichael Gray, Royal Borough Kensington and ChelseaMichael Gray, National ManagementTrainee at Royal Borough Kensington andChelsea, joined Knowledge Hub on theadvice of colleagues through the NationalGraduate Development Programme(NGDP).Michael joined his NGDP cohort group andtook it upon himself to become a facilitator,learning the “nuts and bolts to develop apractical and more technical skill of onlinefacilitation”.The main benefit Michael has found is“hearing about different people’sexperiences”. He adds that it provides himwith “candid information about what’s goingwell and what’s not going well”. Hedescribes his group as a “helpful andsupportive online network”.Michael finds the most useful KnowledgeHub features are the forums, library, andevents. He says, “The library is a usefulrepository and there is a lot of information ofreal practical use”.An example of how Knowledge Hub hashelped Michael’s group was when anothermember from a different council added apost about the difficulty they wereexperiencing with their placement. Theywere feeling quite demoralised and weren’tsure what to do. Michael explains, “The postreceived lots of responses about whatapproach to take and who to speak to.Sharing the experience, putting the questionout there, and getting the feedback reallyhelped”.Michael found the Knowledge Hub helpfulwhen he was charged with procuring atrainer for a project management course.“As this course was relatively new, therewere hardly any reviews, which made itdifficult to know which training provider touse. This is where Knowledge Hub provedreally helpful. By posting a question aboutthe course and particular training providersin a project management practitioner group,I was able to get some useful feedback,which I would not have been able to sourceelsewhere.”Michael says, “Knowledge Hub is importantto me. We all have a laptop and can go andsit anywhere, but that does not mean we getto speak to the right people. It’s an extracommunity online.“There are a lot of weird and wonderfulgroups out there. Sometimes you thinkyou’re on your own in your interests andthoughts, but then you find a group whichhas lots of people interested and talkingabout it too. It’s about having that onlinecommunity to draw upon.”Michael describes Knowledge Hub as aplace to “connect online with interestingprofessionals”. He adds “Knowledge Hubdefinitely has a social aspect to it, but it isn’tlike Facebook or Twitter. People seem to beusing it for the right reasons”.
  10. 10. _________________________________________Page 10 of 17“…being able to engage with otherrelated groups is essential. We have avoice we would not have had”.“I can’t help, but I know someone whocan.”7. Knowledge is power – when it’s shared by expertsNicola Underdown, Leicestershire County CouncilNicola Underdown is the ImprovingInformation Sharing and ManagementExemplar Project Officer at LeicestershireCounty Council. She is a member of severalKnowledge Hub groups, which she findsuseful for work-related areas and forreflecting on personal views.Nicola describes Knowledge Hub as“Facebook for work!” She goes on to say itis “part of a suite of tools we use to engagewith people”.Nicola also facilitates two groups. As part ofthe role, she checks her groups’ pages andother relevant groups for new content andinformation and cross-references them.The key things Knowledge Hub has helpedNicola do are “create a group membershipfor work areas, use tags to pull in relevantblogs for groups, and engage in discussionin forum threads”.Knowledge Hub has made a number ofdifferences to the way Nicola and her teamwork, and the greatest impact has been theway the team communicates. “As a smallteam who are geographically dispersed,being able to engage with other relatedgroups is essential. We have a voice wewould not have had”.Live online discussions (‘hotseats’) havebeen another great way for Nicola to get theconversations flowing and pull outinformation and knowledge. As a facilitator,she might not always know the answers butshe says “being able to put people in touchwith each other is powerful. I can’t help, but Iknow someone who can”.Nicola finds the biggest challenges arearound quantifying the benefits and impactof Knowledge Hub to others. People don’tunderstand the amount of time and effortrequired, or why it’s so important to get rightat the start.Knowledge Hub brings a number ofopportunities too. The key one for Nicola isconnecting with a broad range of people andtheir expertise. “Being able to tap intoexperts’ knowledge is powerful”.Often work and projects can be of a politicalnature, which can mean layers ofbureaucracy and hierarchies. KnowledgeHub gives Nicola direct access to a group ofpeople without having to go through theselayers and she finds this powerful too. If shecomes across a potential project barrier orchallenge, Nicola says that it’s good to beable to say she’s already spoken tosomeone else – an expert – and what theirresponse was.
  11. 11. _________________________________________Page 11 of 17“It’s a continued resource and ifproblems come up you can ask questionsand there are lots of people who can(and do) contribute to the answer.”“For a small local authority like us wecan’t afford to employ lots of people inone area of work. Knowledge Hub is justthe job and is fantastic.”8. A problem shared is a problem halvedPaul Ambrose, Bournemouth CouncilPaul Ambrose, Principal Engineer atBournemouth Borough Council is interestedin topics relating to flooding and drainage.As this is a complex and technical area, hehas found the discussion and information inthe FlowNet Knowledge Hub Group veryvaluable.Paul describes Knowledge Hub as a“valuable, friendly and accessible resource”.The features he finds most helpful are theforums and the library. “There are lots ofdiscussions on flooding and drainage, andthe library is set up with documents too. If Ilose a copy or if a file is too big to email, itwill always be on Knowledge Hub”.For Paul the biggest benefit is being able toconnect with others who work in the samefield as him, particularly because he is theonly person working in flooding anddrainage in his authority.“Flooding and drainage is an obscure andtechnical subject and if a question comes upno one else in the council will be able toanswer it. Knowledge Hub puts you incontact with others – I don’t have the timeand resources to investigate every floodingand drainage issue”.An example of how Knowledge Hub hashelped Paul in his work is when he asked aquestion about water companies wanting tohand back some pipes to councils or landowners as they no longer consider thempublic sewers. “A lot of other localauthorities have a similar problem and whathelped me is when people said that theycould reference case law and were able toexplain it. This has helped to improve myown knowledge. It hasn’t helped me to getthe answers yet but I know a lot more aboutthe subject now than when I started”.Paul likes how Knowledge Hub “puts you intouch with people who deal with the samework issues as you. For a small localauthority like us we can’t afford to employlots of people in one area of work.Knowledge Hub is just the job and isfantastic. It’s a continued resource and ifproblems come up you can ask questionsand there are lots of people who can (anddo) contribute to the answer”.Paul certainly sees the opportunities ofusing Knowledge Hub. However, there isalso a challenge because of the amount ofinformation available. “There is so muchinformation and knowledge out there andyou have to know the right questions to askto get the right answers. Often you know ofa particular problem but you have to put itinto simple language for others.”
  12. 12. _________________________________________Page 12 of 17“Collaboration is the key to goingforward; sharing information andapproaches saves costs, time andtravel.”“…engaging, simple to use, targeted,informative and current.”9. Finding the right people is easier nowPeter Hall, Southend-On-Sea Borough CouncilPeter Hall, Senior Advisor for Equalities andInclusion at Southend-on-Sea BoroughCouncil primarily uses Knowledge Hub forhis role as the equalities and inclusion lead.This involves keeping up to date with thelatest thinking and current issues on equalityand diversity, policy areas, welfare reform,demographics and other related areas.Knowledge Hub helps him “keep in touch inall of these areas”.Peter is a facilitator of the Southend andEssex Equality Network, which helps topromote and share best practice. He says itis “a place people can dip in and out of toaccess a repository of materials, keyguidance and event information”.For Peter, the main benefit of usingKnowledge Hub is that it allows him toaccess areas he is interested in and “findout what the current thinking is”. As amember of various groups he can use hismembership to get a “quick touch on what’sgoing on”. He says, “I can get an overviewwhich keeps me up to date and saves time”.An example is when councils across thecountry were using the group to share theirdiffering approaches towards meeting therequirements of The Public Sector EqualityDuty. “Discussing and agreeing a pragmaticapproach to meeting the requirements of theDuty helped to ensure consistency acrossauthorities who took part in the discussion.”Setting up the Southend and Essex EqualityNetwork was an innovative decision forPeter in his work area. He says,“Collaboration is the key to going forward;sharing information and approaches savescosts, time and travel”.Another key benefit for Peter is having theability to make the links to variousindividuals. Peter says “finding the rightpeople is easier now and finding the rightgroups to ask questions to the right peoplecuts down on time to do that”.Peter describes Knowledge Hub as“engaging, simple to use, targeted,informative and current”. He finds it helpfulbecause “it allows you to share yourthoughts across the piece, picking upcurrent thinking and conversations”.
  13. 13. _________________________________________Page 13 of 17“I have learnt a great deal about my jobthrough the discussions I’ve had, and it’shelped me to keep up to date with newsin my industry.”“Generally, I’d be lost without it.”10. Learning specialist knowledge to build expertiseRiley Marsden, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough CouncilRiley Marsden, Geographic InformationOfficer at Barnsley Metropolitan BoroughCouncil says Knowledge Hub is a “reallyuseful resource and adds to best practicesharing”.Due to the nature of his unique role (thistends to be the case at other councils too),Riley says, “Knowledge Hub is ideal for meto access peers, knowledge and supportfrom others in councils”.Knowledge Hub provides Riley with threekey benefits: making connections sharing best practice accessing specialist knowledge.“I have learnt a great deal about my jobthrough the discussions I’ve had, and it’shelped me to keep up to date with news inmy industry. It’s a wonderful way to putinformation out there for others to see.”Faced with a technical issue to integrateLocal Land Property Gazetteer data andcouncil tax data, Riley says, “I asked aquestion in the forum and explained theproblem I was having. I asked if anyone hadexperienced the same thing and if anyonehad overcome it. About four or five people in24 hours said that they too had tried to dothe same thing, had the same problem, andwhat they were doing about it.“The conversation continued outside ofKnowledge Hub and with this collectiveknowledge I was able to get technicaladvice, help others, and in turn help mywork.”Due to the niche area, in which Riley works,he says, “The case study material onKnowledge Hub gives me lots of new ideasto take away and implement here in my owncouncil”. Riley also likes to pass on hisknowledge to the groups he is a member of,“If there is something I think is useful I willshare the work we have done here atBarnsley”.Riley believes that “if more people use itthere will be more opportunities”. TheGeoplace group Riley is a member of is wellused and that is why it’s useful to him.People are using the tools there and arejoining up”.Using Knowledge Hub has meant that Rileyis less reliant on attending face-to-faceevents. “They are costly and sometimeshard to get to”. Although he values face-to-face opportunities, Riley compares attendingone or two events per year and says, “Youcan get the same level of detail as looking ata 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 belost without it”.
  14. 14. _________________________________________Page 14 of 17“It’s good value time-wise, because youdon’t have to leave your desk to takepart.”11. Creating a brand through professional e-networkingSarah Coupe, Charnwood Borough CouncilSarah Coupe, Children and Young People’sStrategic Coordinator at CharnwoodBorough Council joined Knowledge Hub aspart of a project which involved running anetwork. She describes Knowledge Hub as“a professional e-networking site”. Shespends 90 per cent of her time at workcommunicating, and says her network is an“extension of how we do what we do, wheretools are available for the whole group touse”.During the network’s face-to-face meetings,a discussion will be taking place andsomeone will always say “put it onKnowledge Hub and start a forum”. Thishappens regularly now and Sarah happilyadmits that “it’s become almost like acompetition to see who says it first!”To encourage the network to useKnowledge Hub, Sarah has stoppedsending some things via email. She makesthings available on Knowledge Hub only,knowing the network will want to access it.Since using Knowledge Hub Sarah says, “Ithas given us a brand as a network. It’sallowed us to progress what the networkdoes in the face-to-face meetings and nowthere’s an interim place to go to.“It’s about building a brand for our networkand making sure momentum carries on”.Over the course of the year the network isable to maintain its identity and there’s abase to support their quarterly face-to-facemeetings. Knowledge Hub has helpedmotivate members and encouragecommunications between meetings. Sarahsays it is “good value time wise because youdon’t have to leave your desk to take part.It’s a quick way to get information and giveinformation”.She likes find out what others are sharingand what they find most interesting. “Itenhances your knowledge about what otherservices can provide, and you can signpostpeople to more information. People areworking cooperatively and are notduplicating things”.Sarah intends to use the wiki feature topresent some work on statistically profilingseveral community areas. Thesediscussions will help illustrate the “storiesbehind the statistics”.An example of how Sarah’s network hashelped others learn and share is with agroup of teachers and other colleagues whowere made redundant. “This group of peoplecould have been isolated, but instead theyare a part of the network and can find outwhat’s going on.” People of interest are nowinvolved instead of going off doing their ownthing and possibly wasting time and effort.“Being able to share information like this in aprofessional environment createsopportunities to start conversations anddiscuss new ideas”
  15. 15. _________________________________________Page 15 of 17“It’s great because I enjoy networkingwith people, and it means I don’t have togo on a long journey to speak to them –it can be instant”.“It’s a useful and valuable part of thesupport package.”12. An instant resource to pool our resourcesSue Dickinson, Bury CouncilSue Dickinson, Childcare SufficiencyManager at Bury Council joined KnowledgeHub through the Achieving Two Year Oldsproject she was project managing at BuryCouncil. A Knowledge Hub group was setup for those working on this project acrossall councils.What Sue finds most beneficial about usingKnowledge Hub is being able to connectwith people. She says, “It’s great because Ienjoy networking with people, and it means Idon’t have to go on a long journey to speakto them – it can be instant. If you’ve got aquestion or query you can put it out to a lotof people”.There are several examples whereKnowledge Hub has helped Sue save timeand effort. “When we first started looking atmarketing for the project we managed to pullout a flyer which another local authority haddone and use it to create our own”.Sue’s team were also able to gain moremarketing ideas to promote the project’soutcomes to those who were eligible, andthrough the group membership she says“we got some cheap and cost-effectiveideas which we could use here at Bury”.Sue goes on to explain how being amember of this Knowledge Hub group hasbeen vital to the project, particularly in thedevelopment stage when things werehanging all the time. She says, “I could keepan eye on what other local authorities aredoing, and Knowledge Hub is one way ofcommunicating and picking up best practice.It’s a useful and valuable part of the supportpackage”.Knowledge Hub provides a number ofopportunities for Sue. She says, “It’s instant.You get reminders when new informationhas been added and you can click on thelinks you find useful”.For Knowledge Hub to be more useful morelocal authorities should be using it. Suesays, “More marketing should be done topromote and encourage local authorities touse it. It’s very different because it’s realsharing, not like LinkedIn, Facebook andTwitter. It’s more about information sharing”.She believes Knowledge Hub isstraightforward to use, “Once you get into itthe system is easy to navigate. It’s cracking!And it works well for me. It is really useful”.Sue says Knowledge Hub is a “brilliantinstant online network” and describes it as“an instant resource for sharing information”.
  16. 16. _________________________________________Page 16 of 17“A good way of learning what otherpeople are doing.”“You can’t always do it on your own andyou need other people to network with.”13. Smarter and faster workingJohn Scott, Three Rivers District CouncilJohn Scott, Environmental Health Managerat Three Rivers District Council usesKnowledge Hub regularly for part of his roleas secretary for a working group. Heorganises meetings and distributes minutes,notes and agendas, and finds the library andnotifications most helpful to him.Knowledge Hub provides John with “a goodway of learning what other people aredoing”. He says “picking up practice” in thisway is helpful and adds, “I can distributeinformation as I use it”.Knowledge Hub also helps John keep up todate with what is going on in his area ofwork and on occasion has saved him time.Through his membership of the FoodHygiene Forum, John was able to access alist of disinfectants which comply with BritishStandards. “The problem was that many ofthe disinfectants lacked the correct labellingand you couldn’t tell if they complied withthe standards. Someone in the FoodHygiene Forum compiled a central list of theproducts which did comply for us all to see”.Prior to joining Knowledge Hub, John reliedon MS Outlook to send and receive emailsto help him keep in touch with people. WhatJohn likes about Knowledge Hub is that “it’ssmarter and faster working. You can’talways do it on your own and you needother people to network with”.However, as with any concept of change orinnovation to improve working practicesthere are some people who will useKnowledge Hub and some who will not.John admits to having to continue to sendemails to the ones who don’t use it, but says“more people need to embrace it for it towork better”. John recognises a “certainlevel of reluctance” from some people whohave used Knowledge Hub and may have a“technophobe attitude”.John says Knowledge Hub is “good onceyou get used to it” and although there is arange 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 asyou have joined which explains how to posta question and how to add a file wouldhelp”.John also feels that a mobile version ofKnowledge Hub in the future wouldencourage more people to embrace it.
  17. 17. _________________________________________Page 17 of 17For more information please contactKnowledge TeamDigital Communications and KnowledgeLocal Government AssociationLocal Government HouseSmith SquareLondon SW1P 3HZEmail: kmteam@local.gov.ukTelephone: 020 7664 3166Contact the Local Government AssociationTelephone: 020 7664 3000Email: info@lga.gov.ukWebsite: www.local.gov.uk© Local Government Association, October 2011For a copy in Braille, larger print or audio, please contact us on 020 7664 3000.We consider all requests on an individual basis.

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