Birmingham Post - 060214 - Putting Digital Birmingham on the map

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Here's a call to action. I've created a Digital Birmingham group at Frappr! Just go to http://www.frappr.com/digitalbirmingham, put yourself on the map, take a look at your digital neighbours, and demonstrate your commitment to a truly digital Birmingham. And don't forget to tell your friends.....

Digital Birmingham launches today in Chamberlain Square. Kids and half-term willing I might head down there to find out what all the fuss is about. My Digital Birmingham guide tells me that Birmingham is leading the digital revolution and that the city will be “embracing the latest technology .. to ensure our city and its workforce are ahead of the game”.

Needless to say that got me thinking. What would be on my shopping list for a Digital Birmingham?

Digital Birmingham launches today in Chamberlain Square. Kids and half-term willing I might head down there to find out what all the fuss is about. My Digital Birmingham guide tells me that Birmingham is leading the digital revolution and that the city will be “embracing the latest technology .. to ensure our city and its workforce are ahead of the game”.

Needless to say that got me thinking. What would be on my shopping list for a Digital Birmingham?

Thankfully it looks like the existing birmingham.gov.uk web site is going to get an overhaul. It's a good site, in terms of the range of services and information, but looks horrendous and is a nightmare to navigate around. My pet peeve is that the main library page links to leisure and tourism not library services!

But being a digital city should reach far beyond the web site. Unfortunately a lot of the most obvious improvements are actually about playing catch-up. Things like city wide WiFi, real time bus data to my mobile so I know how fast to run down the road, widespread access to CCTV cameras to help with journey planning, and RSS feeds of events and information so that I don't have to visit the web site to find out what is on. Many cities have already been there, done that.

So what could we also do that would help push us to the forefront of the digital revolution? First we could embrace the rise of personal and citizen media. Just go to feedmap.net to see all the bloggers that are based in the city. Take a look at www.frappr.com to find groups and places active in Birmingham, or www.flickr.com to view thousands of photos of the city. Or hunt down some Brum based podcasts. Why not build a site that not only merges community content such as this with official content, but also points people to the tools which will let them take part and create their own content. Very quickly we could show the world how vibrant the digital scene already is in the city – and make it even stronger.

Why stop at mapping activity? The next step could be to build a truly virtual digital Birmingham. In the US Google Earth is already sprouting 3D buildings in many major cities. Amazon is busying photographing almost every major US shopping street to create virtual drive-throughs. I'm sure there's enough talent in the youth of Birmingham to move the whole city into a Doom or Half-Life based virtual environment.

If moving the real into the virtual is one option, why not also do the reverse, and move the digital into the real world? It's great to see the BBC's big screen in Chamberlain Square being used to display Valentine's day videos, but a longer term strategy of embedding digital art throughout the city would help to build the bridge between the two worlds – and show every visitor how digital the city is.

As the Forward supplement says, Birmingham is a city with a history of innovation, vision and entrepreneurial spirit. If we want to truly “love digital” then we need to make sure that we do indeed move forward, creative innovative services and embrace all the people of the city who are already building Birmingham in cyberspace.

So here's a call to action. I've created a Digital Birmingham group at Frappr! Just go to http://www.frappr.com/digitalbirmingham, put yourself on the map, take a look at your digital neighbours, and demonstrate your commitment to a truly digital Birmingham. And don't forget to tell your friends.....

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This page contains a single entry by David published on February 14, 2006 11:07 AM.

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