THE HEDON BLOG is an example of a 'hyperlocal' news-gathering website. Along with others in the area such as Beverley's HU17.net, hyperlocals try to bring together news and information about an area in one online place so that it can be found easily by local residents.
However, local councils are beginning to realise the benefits that hyperlocals might bring to them. A conference was held recently on the Government's localism agenda which prompted an article on Learning Pool by Breda Doherty that asked the question: Why local government should be hyper about hyperlocal websites.
- Elected members can more accurately shape their political promises by listening online to what residents actually see as important. They can use these websites to get to better know the people who make up their wards/districts.
- Councils can use them as a free research tool to find out how the public rate their services, what their concerns are and better determine where restricted budgets should be spent.
- Councils can also increase the distribution of their traditional communications such as press releases by providing hyperlocal websites with this information to publish.
- Show that they are not scared of public criticism by taking part in open, online coversations.
- Look to hyperlocal websites for ideas on how to improve their own websites. Hyperlocal websites are popular as their content is interactive rather than static and discussion is encouraged rather than directed to a minefield of contact us sections or FAQ’s pages only to find out a generic response to their individual community issues.