I mentioned, last week, that I was going to experiment with Microsoft’s Photosynth. Well, my first try was in photographing the sleeping-out on Byte Night. You can see the results below.


However, two files have to be downloaded before the Synth can be viewed, which is unlikely to be allowed on corporate networks, and certainly not on Newham’s.

Due to a calendar mix-up, I had the wrong location recorded in my calendar for a meeting of the Better Connected Team to discuss the test surveys they have undertaken.

I drove into London, before realising I was supposed to be at the Novotel in the centre of Reading, so arrived an hour late! I specifically asked to attend this meeting, as I’m keen to understand the evaluation process.

The test surveys, with comments, and other documents including an “Improvement Plan” were circulated ahead of the meeting. There were ten assessors in the meeting with Martin Greenwood, and I was quickly impressed at their knowledge and experience.

More than ever, ‘though, I was struck at what a fast-changing environment we are dealing with. As well as Local Area Agreements, we now have Multi-Area Agreements and Comprehensive Area Assessments.

There’s Local Government reorganisation, proliferation of web-sites, Identity Management and Authentication are on the horizon, and content is increasingly multimedia, not to mention Web 2.0 and digital convergence.

As I previously reported, the Socitm Insight Team plans to evolve the Better Connected product, which will be signalled by the changing strap-lines.

My thoughts, now, are that the first really significant change may be in switching from assessment of Local Authority sites, to assessing the delivery of public services in boroughs and districts, recognising that service delivery is increasingly multi-agency.

As a citizen, I would want to easily find and use services available in my area, but not too concerned who delivered them. It seems unlikely that switch of assessment focus can be accommodated this year, but the survey is clearly being developed with the changing requirements in-mind.

My trips to Socitm’s sister Society conferences, to date, have confirmed that the Better Connected survey is by far the most comprehensive undertaken in the public sector, and widely recognised as such.

It’s an ambitious programme with a very high profile and always, therefore, likely to attract critics.

But through the commitment and professionalism of the Insight Team, working closely with Socitm Futures to ensure that Better Connected continues to effectively represent the strategy and policies established by the Socitm membership, I’m certain it will continue to represent the Gold Standard in surveying public sector web services.

A complaints, comments and plaudits form is now available on the Socitm “ Contact Us” page on the website.