Opening government

May 25, 2011

Another post on GovLoop leads to a different string of documents, websites and blogs providing practices and information about transparency and communications with citizens.

The various sites are:

Road Map for the Digital City – Achieving New York City’s Digital Future, a 10.8Mb download of 65 pages outlining NYC’s plans for open government following a 90 day exercise of investigation. The NYC use of crowdsourcing was reflected on in April 2011.

Canadian Cloud – similarly  a 2Mb PDF from Canada outlining their plans for government cloud.

A source of some of this information is Neil McEvoy’ open government blog.

A somewhat different approach to open data is proposed in Beth Simone Noveck’s book on ‘wikigovernment‘ – along article by the author appeared in Democracy in 2008.

Add to that the news of the appointment of Mike Bracken as the Executive Director of Digital Efficiency and Reform Group, Cabinet Office, which may prove interesting with his background at the Guardian and MySociety. One thing it really ensures is that conversation at the ERG will be all about football…


Circles within circles

May 22, 2011

A post on GovLoop by Gadi Ben-Yehuda led me to “Using Online Tools to Engage – and be Engaged by – The Public” by Matt Leighninger which is a new report from the IBM Center for the Business of Government. Whilst it’s a glossy, it is also well thought out and laid out, and presents current research into the use of social media in government very succinctly. The report presents a number of scenarios where government practitioners may find themselves requiring public input, and then describe a mix of ten different approaches that may be found useful in attempting to get citizen engagement, along with highlighting a number of real examples from across the world. Some of the solutions offered are, of course, sold by IBM but other suppliers and examples of some free products are also provided.

Scrolling through the PDF of the book, which is available hardcopy too, I fell over a UK example that I initially didn’t recognise, however on Googling it, it all became clear. The example was of Citizenscape, “a web platform that connects existing social websites, such as community forums and sites like Facebook and Twitter, to participatory tools such as ePetitions, webcasts, or consultations. Citizenscape is designed to provide an immediate picture of what online users in a community are talking about.” The developers of Citizenscape are Public-i, who have for some time been providing webcasting of meetings for local authorities in the UK. The chief executive of Public-i is Catherine Howe, who is also a PhD researcher employing a blog entitled “Curious Catherine“, as a research diary. I met Catherine through the webcasting product and have occasionally compared notes on the griefs and joys involved in doing a PhD.

Reading the blog I’m now aware that she’s using action research as the methodology, so she has even more of my sympathy, having used that myself. Hence the circles within circles, having started off at GovLoop and rotated around to the latest blog posts of an acquaintance.

There is plenty going on out there!

The social medium

May 8, 2011

Steve Ressler, founder of GovLoop, might have some self-interest involved when he tries to promote the use of social media in government in a piece in Government Technology, but he’s still very correct in a couple of his five points to avoid.

Blocking use rather than setting guidelines can be a big mistake as “when Goldman Sachs invested $500 million in Facebook stock while its own analysts were blocked from the site and couldn’t do research on the company”.

Another good message from Steve is  “think of it in terms of economic development — a forward-thinking digital government is attractive to growing employers and the creative-class workers they’re trying to recruit”.

There are still lots of councils and government bodies blocking social media and too few with a well thought out policy on using it.

Digital Deca

April 7, 2011

Not sure I like the title, it sounds more like a reggae artist but thanks go Michele Bartram for posting a link on GovLoop to an excellent little e-book. The book entitled “The Digital Deca: 10 Management Truths for the Web Age” is by Lisa Welchman of Welchman Pierpoint web governance consulting.

It points out in a simple manner many of the things we are constantly trying to get across to service and senior managers. Well designed, too!