Obama campaign chief scientist speaks at Digital Leaders event

Rayid Ghani spoke about using data in the public sector.

At the Digital Leaders Annual Lecture, part of the Digital Leaders Programme, Chief Scientist for the Obama for America presidential campaign Rayid Ghani spoke about using data in the public sector.

At the Portcullis House in London Tuesday night, Ghani spoke of the importance of syncing both on- and off-line data and campaign activity to drive offline action, adding his prediction that by the next elections there would be no need for a separate new media department, as new media would be completely integrated into the campaigning process.

Ghani, who is also a leader in the use of data and social media, told the 150 public sector leaders in attendance the importance of Facebook and Twitter for campaigning, especially to target those aged between 18-35 who are less likely to use landlines and so are harder to get in touch with through traditional campaign techniques. The Facebook application used by the Obama campaigners did not merely ask users to broadcast a status update  but let them remind certain friends to register or to vote, depending on analysis of other publicly available information. He also said that US citizens were more likely to be convinced to vote after seeing their Facebook friends do so than by watching TV advertisements about voting.

The lecture was followed by a Q&A session with a panel that consisted of Andrew Miller MP, Adam Afriyie MP and Adam Conner, Manager for Public Policy, Facebook. Discussion included the relevance of these ideas in the UK, as well as how comfortable citizens would be to knowing that such information about them was public.

The final word was by Afriyie who spoke of his desire for the government to open data sets, thereby empowering citizens.

According to Nigel Muirhead, Strategic Partnerships Managing Director at Agilisys, one of the sponsors of the event, “We are delighted to be part of the Digital Leaders Programme, and found tonight’s discussion very thought-provoking. The whole event was especially relevant to our local government clients, as we work together to use customer insights to deliver citizen-centric services through our Agilisys Digital platform. I’m already looking forward to Channel Shift Live next month – a further opportunity to discuss and share knowledge with others in this space.”

The Digital Leaders Programme aims to ‘bring together influential leaders from all backgrounds to get to grips with the role digital can play as a key enabler for the delivery of transparent, efficient, and citizen centric services in a new age of Digital Government’.


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