Headlines: February 20th, 2007



Bristol City Council has become the first local authority to launch a self-broadcast website to encourage people to air their views on city issues. Users will be able to upload their own videos, audio files images and text messages using the new Viewfinder site, which has been developed with support from the Department for Constitutional Affairs Innovations Fund.

The council is keen that young people especially should make use of the system. It has been designed so that anyone wanting to take advantage of the site will not need expensive equipment. Once someone has registered they will be able to upload short videos or images shot with mobile phone cameras, digital cameras, PC webcams or camcorders to www.askbristol.com/viewfinder

The aim of the site is to study how video might encourage more young people to take part in local democracy by offering them the opportunity to give their views on issues by using technology with which they feel comfortable. Simon Cook, the council’s Executive Member for Health Promotion, Young People and Leisure, said it was an exciting development in public consultation and e-communications. “Viewfinder provides a fantastic opportunity to get Bristol people talking and for our pilot phase we particularly want the views of our young people. They might have opinions on traffic, night safety in the city or recycling and can help us with plans for the South Bristol Pool. We want to hear from them,” Councillor Cook said.

Viewfinder will mean that users can see easily which issues generate the most interest and the largest number of comments because these ‘hot topics’ will be more prominent on the site.

The DCA’s Innovations Fund was created to provide seed funding for the building, testing and evaluation of new tools that might facilitate engagement between government and the public, or between members of the public.