your scotgovcamp 2013 survival kit

Here’s all you need to know to get the best out of your scotgovcamp experience!

scotgovcamp logo

What happens on the day

Registration will be 0930 – 1000. Please don’t arrive any earlier than 0930, cos you won’t get in!

We’ll be kicking off sharp at 1000. After the domestics and introductions we’ll get on to session pitches and putting the agenda together. If you have something you want to talk about, don’t be shy. Govcampers are a lovely bunch, they’ll be genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say.

Once we have an agenda we’ll go straight into the first sessions. The sessions themselves will be about 45-50 minutes and we’ve got enough space to run 4 or 5 sessions concurrently. So you may have to make some tough choices about which sessions to attend. But, remember, govcamps run on ‘open space’ principles, so you’re free to move in and out of sessions.

We’ll have a break for lunch at some point (exact timings will be confirmed on the day) and we’ll be wrapping up no later than 1630.

Pitching sessions

If you’ve been following the discussions on Twitter (the hashtag is #scotgc13) or on the SPSDG Knowledge Hub, you’ll know that we have an Ideascale site for session suggestions. If you already have an idea for a session pitch, you might want to put it up on there now, so you can gauge likely interest. Or you might find that someone has already suggested something similar. It isn’t compulsory to do this though – we won’t be allocating sessions until the day.

Give it some welly!

What makes a govcamp really swing is the (mostly!) seamless offline/online interaction, so please help spread the conversation. By tweeting. Or blogging. Or Flickring. Or YouTubeing. Or Google+ing. Or all of the above-ing. If you want a little help to get going, there will be plenty of people around who can offer social media advice. [And afterwards, you can add ‘event amplification’ to your LinkedIn profile!]

So, yes, that does mean that you may have your photo taken, you may be filmed, or a comment you make may appear on Twitter. If you’re in any way uncomfortable with that, govcamp may not be the place for you.

If it’s your first time

If you’re an unconference virgin (and that’s nothing to be ashamed of btw ;)), don’t worry, we’ll spend a bit of time first thing explaining how things work. And if you let us know that it’s your first time when you register, we can buddy you up with an…ahem…more experienced camper 😉 .


If you need wifi, you’ll get login details when you register. Other than that we won’t be using the University’s equipment, so if you want to present slides you’ll have to bring your own tech (although we’d like the PowerPoint kept to a minimum anyway…).


Refreshments will be available throughout the day (including some lush homebaking!). If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know asap.


We’ve got Woodland Creatures booked for some pre event drinkies and Mother India for some serious post event curry eating – full details for both on the Ideascale site.

Small people

Yes, you can bring children into the venue. Just to be clear, that’s not the same as saying that scotgovcamp is a child-friendly event! There are a few reasons why it’s probably not a good idea to bring your little darlings unless you have to. For a start, we can’t guarantee that the conversations will be child friendly. And there won’t be much to hold their attention unless they have a very precocious interest in technology in the public sector! And we won’t be the only people in the venue on the day – there are very clever people doing very important, very complicated computer sciencey stuff in Informatics at all hours – so they can’t really run about freely (that applies to all of us, btw!)

If you do need to bring your kiddies please make sure that you bring food and drink for them as we can’t guarantee that the catering will be child friendly.


Remember, Scotgovcamp is only possible because of the generosity of our sponsors: the UKGovcamp guys, Futuregov, O2 and mydex. And of course, the University of Edinburgh, which is hosting us. Please take the time to check them out.

We have just about enough money to run the event, but could be doing with a wee bit more. So if you’re a tech company or similar and have a bit of money for this sort of thing in your budget, please get in touch (no amount too small!). We frown on sales pitches but you’d be very welcome to display banners at the event, bring promotional materials, etc. And, of course, you get the kudos from being associated with a govcamp (and that’s a whole lotta kudos!).

And now a word from our sponsors: innovation, openness and scotgovcamp

This post comes from FutureGov, one of our awesome sponsors (without whom there would be no scotgovcamp!)

Councils in the UK have started to turn to open innovation processes – such as crowdsourcing, collaboration, sharing and transparency – to bring new ideas to bear on tricky problems.

spaghetti and marshmallow challenge photograph

Events like ScotGovCamp play a central part in bringing open innovation to life. They attract a range of people submitting ideas, from council workers and makers through to local residents and social innovators interested in solving some of society’s key problems.

From running past events like Councillor Camp, CityCamp London and the Camden Challenge, we’ve picked up some knowledge about how the open innovation process can work. We thought we’d share a few examples of our own to show what impact open innovation can make in changing local government for the better and addressing real social problems.

We’ve also seen our own success from following open innovation processes. Two of our most developed projects, Patchwork and Casserole Club, were brought about through open innovation.

The inspiration for Patchwork came out of the Baby P tragedy. In 2009, FutureGov’s founder Dominic Campbell had been watching a documentary about the death two years earlier of Peter Connelly, a toddler who had been on the child protection register in Haringey, north London. Angry and frustrated at how the clumsy, bureaucratic safeguarding systems appeared to have failed Peter, we posted an article on the FutureGov blog asking how child protection might be reimagined in the age of the internet and calling a meeting to thrash out ideas. Twenty five people turned up and the project was built from there. This wasn’t the end of the open innovation process and Patchwork is now a fully fledged app working in the UK and Australia.

Casserole Club began as a serendipitous convergence of ideas between our project lead Murtz and FutureGov. Murtz had been working on his MSc, developing an idea for community led social care, while FutureGov had been pondering concepts for a new type of Meals on Wheels. From that point forward, we have spent our time researching, piloting, building local networks, and developing Casserole into what it is today.

Here at FutureGov, we’ve even created a bespoke platform to drive open innovation for companies interested in developing their own products and services in this way.

Simpl Challenges is a platform designed to improve public services by connecting social innovators to local government and organisations through focused, event-based challenges.

Simpl opens up the policy process for local councils in the UK by seeking ideas from inside and outside the organisations. The platform enables an accountability mechanism through holding idea owners and councils crowdsourcing ideas to account. This openness and transparency means councils have a stronger desire to deliver on ideas generated through Simpl as the ideas submitted to the platform are public, visible and co-owned by the people behind the ideas.

We used Simpl Challenges in our recent FutureGov hack week: three days of hard-core hacking on a range of ideas. Fuelled by mountains of yummy food and pots of the finest freshly-brewed coffee, 24 FutureGovers split up into teams to build the hacks and change the world. You can see the results of the three projects over on the FutureGov blog.

There are just a few examples, but you can see that an approach to Open Innovation at events like ScotGovCamp brings lots of opportunity to bring tangible examples of social change to life. We can’t wait to see the results!

Contact Dominic Campbell ( if you’d like to hear more about FutureGov.

And check out our Ideascale site to get an idea of the sort of things we’ll be talking about at scotgovcamp 2013.

The kids are alright

The kids are alright

Photo Credit: Lubs Mary. via Compfight cc

Have childcare duties? Want to attend ScotGovCamp? Why not bring the kids with you?

We believe the children are our future and all that. Feel free to bring your young ones along to ScotGovCamp but please be aware Campers are not the only people in Informatics on the day of the event- some of our academic colleagues will be working while we are using the building.

Submit your ideas for ScotGovCamp 2013


Photo Credit: Wi2_Photography via Compfight cc

Want to pitch an idea for discussion or project work at ScotGovCamp? Visit our IdeaScale to submit as many ideas as you’d like. Others can vote and comment on your idea and if it seems it’s something people want to take part in you can meet up on the day of the event and get to work.

you want sprinkles with that govcamp?

ice cream cone

By Steven Depolo, via Wikimedia Commons

UKGovcamp supremo, Mr Steph Gray has hung up his govcamp clipboard* and hoodie. Sad, but understandable. It’s quite a lot of work, you know, un- organising unconferences?!

The news has prompted a bit of discussion about how UKGovcamp can be improved for 2014. If, indeed, it can be improved. Lloyd Davis (master of ceremonies at UKGovcamp in recent years) has a brilliant post on his blog. And regular govcamper, Stefan Czerniawski, has also written a great post. The discussion continues on the Google Group set up by James Cattell.

I’ve been watching with interest – not least to see if we can pinch any of the good ideas they come up with ;). One of the great things about unconferences is that you can tinker with the format right up to the last minute. Another great thing about unconferences is that no-one ‘owns’ them, so everyone can help improve them! Scotgovcamp 2013 is still very ‘tinkerable’.

Personally – and I want to emphasise that this is very much a personal view – I like plain old vanilla govcamp. You turn up with stuff you want to discuss, if other people want to dicuss that stuff too, then you discuss that stuff. The discussions are enough for me. As far as I’m concerned, we don’t get enough opportunities in the public sector to talk about the stuff** that we want to talk about, rather than someone else’s agenda.

If something more tangible follows on from those discussions (a project, development of an app, a new network, whatever), then great. But I don’t think we need to be setting objectives or defining desired outcomes.

Having said that, there may be scope for building in opportunities to do a bit more than just talk. I’m not adverse to some sprinkles on my cone, or even a flake. Leah, I know, is really keen to ensure that we’re not ‘all talk and no consequence’ and that we facilitate ongoing activity where we can.

If you have views on this – whether you are coming to Scotgovcamp or not – please do share them here. Or add them to the planning wiki on the Scottish Public Sector Digital Group Knowledge Hub.

* I may have imagined the clipboard

** too much ‘stuff’? 😉

Ticket update

Early bird tickets have all gone, folks. More will be available in the coming weeks, so if you’e not get managed to bag a golden ticket yet, get yourself on the waiting list!


Back and better than ever

And we’re back. ScotGovCamp 2013 is set to knock your socks off with involvement from people in more disciplines and discussions happening in a climate of real excitement about developing digital public services.

Save the date and book your ticket: Saturday September 14th at Informatics, University of Edinburgh. Keep your eyes on this blog for all the updates and news.


2 weeks to go…

Blimey, where does the time go… just 2 weeks ’till the big day!?

Ideas needed!

In the meantime, I’m setting you a wee bit of homework 🙂 As you know, we’re building stuff as well as talking this year. And, so we can get the day off to a flying start, we need to be able to focus on a particular/issue problem. So, get voting (or add your own ideas). Preferably by teatime on Monday (12th). That’ll give us time to look out some relevant data sources to use on the day.


While I’m on, I’d just like to thank Aberdeen University for hosting the event and also our very generous sponsors moreopen and Learning Pool. Check out their websites – we couldn’t do ScotGovCamp without them!

Getting there

Remember to check out our Google Map for travel sharing opportunities.

Mini-ScotGovCamp in Glasgow

Sorry if you were holding out for the promised Glasgow event during Social Media Week, but we’ve not been able to make this happen. There are still a few tickets available for the main shindig though.

Barcamp with a twist of hacking

This year’s ScotGovCamp (Aberdeen on 24 September) builds on the success of our 2010 event by adding a hackday strand. [TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE – JUST!]

Traditional hackdays are free-form events where developers and others, such as enthusiasts, campaigners or journalists, come together and discuss potential projects to work on. The discussion can take up most of the morning as ideas are explored and data sources are investigated.  Only once that discussion has taken place do groups form and the work begin.

We thought that we’d try something different for ScotGovCamp. If we can move the idea bit forward, ahead of the hackday, we can use the day itself more efficiently – building something all day rather than discussing options.  So…we have a forum where you can suggest ideas for the hackday and vote on them up to 10 September.  Once we have a ‘winner’ that gives us two weeks to identify data sources, leaving the day clear to work on building stuff.

BTW, feel free to move between the two strands – the hackday and the govcamp – on the day. We hope that the hackday will produce applications of relevance to the barcamp discussions, and that the winning topic for the hackday will generate discussion at the barcamp. All we ask is that when booking tickets you choose the strand where you anticipate most of your time will be spent.

Get two fabulous events for the price of one!

ScotGovCamp 2011 will be held in the MacRobert Building at the University of Aberdeen on Saturday 24 September. [TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW!]

So what’s this GovCamp thing all about then?

GovCamps are self organised unconferences for people that work in and around government. They’re free; have no set, pre-defined agenda; focus on attendee participation; integrate with online stuff and are relentlessly positive, constructive and creative. GovCamps enable folk interested in developing innovation and technology in government to come together in an informal setting to share their ideas. And eat pizza.

What’s on the agenda

Nothing yet! (see above). Last year we talked about:

open data
G cloud
Digital Scotland
Big Society
linked data
law and computers
barriers to engagement
lots of other stuff


This year, we’re trying something a wee bit different. Alongside the more ‘traditional’ discussion/presentation sessions there will be parallel hacking sessions – during which we can actually make some stuff! You can get involved in one or t’other, or dip in and out of both. (But just so we get an idea of the numbers for who wants to do what – it’d be helpful if you could choose the appropriate ticket type!)

Getting there

Add yourself to our Google Map to see if anyone else is going in your direction. There may be opportunities for car sharing, etc.

Keep in touch!

Stake out these places for updates before, during and after:


Grab your ticket now – they sold out pretty quick last year!