Heresay: A new platform for community conversation is a social media monitoring tool for organisations who work with communities. In the commercial sector companies monitor the web to see who mentions their brand names and what they say.

Heresay is the same idea, but for organisations that care about communities. It’s designed to search out what people say about their neighbourhoods and represent that data to interested organisations for maximum utility.

It finds blog posts and forum discussions about local issues – every time a relevant discussion is found we determine the geographic location under discussion and tag according to subject matter: crime, planning, history, local politics etc.

We can display data on a map, by category or filter by the demographic affected – children, disabilities, elderly. We can provide alerts against particular keywords or do statistical analysis of hot topics.

Currently finding this material is very difficult – this is the key problem that motivated the project. It came from a City Camp hackday, where community leaders mentioned exactly this issue.

There are so many small sites full of vibrant conversations that are hard to find, and Google search around location is not comprehensive. For example, searching for a park by its name is not effective when people who live near a park will simply refer to it as ‘the park’.

Many citizens use the web to discuss issues from doctors’ waiting times to parking regulations, planning applications to bike theft. The goal of Heresay is to help organisations access these discussions in the simplest way possible.

There are number of projects – such as – which aim to provide new platforms for community conversation. But there are already many sites with established memberships and active debate. It’s this patchwork of overlapping, fragmented blogs and forums that Heresay makes accessible, rather than reinventing the wheel.

While online debate by definition excludes those who do not have internet access, it does capture the views of an increasingly wide section of the community. This includes some demographics of particular interest. For example, those with limited mobility might be more able to participate via the web than they are to attend meetings or answer postal surveys. Heresay also helps lift and promote the conversations happening online to those not yet using the forums. It can help promote the diverse conversations already happening and enhance community cohesion.

Local authorities can use the service to find out how new policies and services are viewed by the public and how widely known they are. We can help discover what services are most valued, and which have problems.

For example, we frequently see council blog posts and press releases echoing across the web – reposted with complaints, criticism, sometimes even praise. This dialogue is a valuable source of information.

At the moment we gather data from London boroughs. We’re seeking partners to help us improve the service, which could include expanding to areas outside London, or deepening our focus on places already covered. You can see some of the data we have at



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