With Bristol facing several significant challenges and opportunities simultaneously, Mayor George Ferguson decided he wanted to make the city a testbed for new ideas.
In particular, he wanted to find new ideas which could help save the city money, compete to win the Bloomberg Challenge and find ways to celebrate Bristol becoming the European Green Capital. And, crucially, he wanted these ideas to come directly from the people of Bristol.
Bristol chose to use Dialogue
Dialogue provides a structured online way to open up a challenge to the ideas and input of the public.
The Council used Dialogue to run 'George's Ideas Lab' – a space for the city's residents to come together and publicly share, discuss and rate one another's ideas.
The Ideas Lab quickly generated widespread public interest (and some encouraging press and social media coverage). Over the course of a few weeks, people submitted 316 different ideas, more than 1,300 comments and some 3,300 ratings for the ideas.
At the end of the process, several of the most promising ideas were taken forward for further discussion, and some even directly informed Bristol's entry to the Bloomberg Mayor's Challenge. The Council made sure to report back to users, explaining what was being done with the ideas received (including stating that some 'are influencing how we are thinking about developing our services'). They also directly gave expert feedback on several of the ideas via the Dialogue site.
Encouraged by the success of the Ideas Lab pilot, the Council went on to use the approach in further developing Bristol’s local services. For example, they used Dialogue again in a consultation on 'Libraries for the Future', collecting ideas and working with citizens to redesign the city's library service.
I am launching my Ideas Lab to gather your most ground-breaking ideas. People will be able to submit ideas as well as rate other people's...
The challenge will be good for Bristol. It will give us the chance to try things out – and see what happens.
George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, UK
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