Saturday morning starts with breakfast at TDC rather than McDonalds, although they are rather close to each other. This is one of about fifteen orientation briefings over the coming two months which are now in my diary.
Among the subjects I have to catch-up on are customer services, scrutiny, licensing, housing and development and thankfully, most are being arranged outside the normal working day, at weekends or in the evenings, recognising that even local councillors have day jobs too.
Staying with the subject of the day job, I’ve an interesting assignment next week, when I have to deliver a new technologies briefing to the board of Yell.Com. Yell is a huge company on both sides of the Atlantic and there’s some speculation this week in the press that they may be a Google acquisition target. All these companies, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Yell included are attempting to come to grips with the Web 2.0 model and the fundamental, almost Marxist change in commercial business models that comes with it. Think of YouTube, Joost, MySpace, Bebo, Facebook and Flickr to name but a few of the more successful models.
One question I have been asking myself, is how the local government online presence in an area like Thanet, might leverage some of the Web 2.0 tools to deliver richer information and services without incurring any increased costs in the process. Tourism information is an excellent example of how services like Google maps and Flickr can give a much more detailed impression of the area to potential visitors.
Back in Westgate today, I had another look at the trench being dug along St Mildred’s road and another chat with the works supervisor and several of the shops affected by the pipe-laying. The worst case scenario now appears to be three weeks to finish the job and the best estimate, two weeks but either way, the disruption will be painful and is bound to cost the adjacent businesses money. Parking in the village during the day is now next to impossible but as I may have mentioned previously, there’s nothing that can be done to hurry the work along.