Posts Tagged ‘government 2.0’

“Government 2.0” means many things to many people. Here’s a list of a few variants, with some (slightly) tongue in cheek observations. :+)

  • social media focus: using social media for government communications/marketing/outreach. This is about the outward face of government, mostly the domain of government communicators and marketers of the digital persuasion. Oh and” social media experts.” Looking into using Twitter, Facebook or blogging to replace , er, complement more traditional forms of government communications activities. Worried about user-generated content and approval processes. Convinced that the press release is dead.
  • web 2.0 tools focus: using web 2.0 tools for improving work processes in government. This is the most inward looking “stream” within government 2.0. Concerned with improving efficiency and effectiveness in the daily work of a wide range of public servants. Looking into collaboration tools such as i.e. wikis. Worried about workplace silos and restrictive rules. Convinced that technology is the answer.
  • transparency focus: releasing more government data online in usable/re-usable forms. This is a strain that’s perhaps more common from the outside looking in, as various activists and stakeholders want to get their hands on, er, aim to improve public access to  government information. Worried about a healthy democracy. Convinced that there’s a hidden agenda.
  • mashup focus: government as a platform that citizens can customize or build from. This is also a common approach outside of government, overlapping with the transparency folks. Looking into new service delivery models where end users benefit from an intermediary layer of tech-savvy entrepreneurs or philanthropists who repackage government services for citizens online. Worried about — actually I’m not sure what these folks are worried about, because they’re … Convinced that they know better.

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wiC_fblogoAbout a year ago, I blogged about the Working in Canada initiative as a great example of the Government of Canada doing government 2.0 — it’s a mashup that pulls together info trapped in widely spread out databases and delivers it in a way that helps prospective or new Canadians make informed decisions about where to live and work within the country.

Well since that time, the Working in Canada gang has also jumped into social media, with presences on Twitter (in the usual English and French, but also Mandarin) and Facebook.

One of the coolest things about their Facebook presence? They are interacting rather than just broadcasting. Here’s a screencap:

Example of interaction on Facebook

Example of interaction on Facebook

From what I see, the Working in Canada Facebook page is developing into a hub where people are asking questions not just about the Working in Canada tool, but wider questions about coming to Canada as well. And they are getting answers — the Working in Canada folks are pointing these people to relevant information sources, regardless of whether they specifically pertain to the Working in Canada program or not. Nice work!

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This morning, David Eaves plotted where he thinks various GoC 2.0 initiatives fall against Gartner’s hype cycle. I very much agree with his overall impression that in terms of adoption of “Government 2.0,” the Canadian federal government is at a very early point.

This got me thinking about how other federal governments are doing. Here’s my highly unscientific impression:

Government of Canada lags in terms of Government 2.0

Highly unscientific impression - Government of Canada lags in terms of Government 2.0

So why did I put the US government at the peak of inflated expectations? Well, that’s how Gartner analyst’s Andrea Dimaio sees it, and I can’t quibble with that.

And as for the UK? Well, they’ve had their big 2.0 taskforce and are well into implementation on a number of fronts. They are comfortable with bureaucrats participating online. They are integrating 2.0 aspects into many of their core web presences (random examples: DFID, BIS, No. 10). And last but not least – they base their official tweeting on actual strategy. ;+)

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From the Wikipedia article on Gartners Hype Cycle

From the Wikipedia article on Gartner's Hype Cycle

From Andrea Dimaio at Gartner:

Government 2.0 is rapidly reaching what we at Gartner call the peak of inflated expectations. This is the highest point in the diagram called “hype cycle”, which constitutes one of our most famous branded deliverables to our clients and that often feature on the press.

Almost all technologies and technology-driven phenomena go through this point, at variable speed. A few die before getting there, but many  stay there for a while and then head down toward what we call the “trough of disillusionment”, i.e. the lowest point in that diagram, to then climb back (but never as high as at the peak) toward the so-called “plateau of productivity”, where they deliver measurable value.

If one looks at what is going on around government 2.0 these days, there are all the symptoms of a slightly (or probably massively) overhyped phenomenon. Those that were just early pilots one or two years ago, are becoming the norm. New ideas and strategies that were been developed by few innovators in government are now being copied pretty much everywhere.

Read the full post: Open Data and Application Contests: Government 2.0 at the Peak of Inflated Expectations.

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Wordle: Wordle From Gov 2.0 Summit Notes

via Wordle – Wordle From Gov 2.0 Summit Notes.

Notes the creator:

Thought it would be interesting to see how my 8 pages of notes from the recent Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington DC turned out in a word cloud.

The words “people” and “data” pop out first. Nice.

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Detail from topo map available in the CanMatrix data set on GeoGratis

Detail from topo map available in the CanMatrix data set on GeoGratis

Last week I lamented the relative lack of GoC participation in the #gov20 trend towards providing government data in an open and reusable matter.

But whither the Government of Canada? Are there any examples of our federal government moving in this direction? Is there an example of a GoC API out there? Some easy-to-use XML feeds? I’m not aware of anything. But then I’m just a lowly digital communicator…

Then on the weekend, a @dbast tweet (I’m sure he saw my post heh) alerted me to the existence of something really neat — the GeoGratis service from Natural Resources Canada:

Geospatial data available online at no cost and without restrictions!

GeoGratis is a portal provided by the Earth Sciences Sector (ESS) of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) which provides geospatial data at no cost and without restrictions via your Web browser.

The data will be useful whether you’re a novice who needs a geographic map for a presentation, or an expert who wants to overlay a vector layer of digital data on a classified multiband image, with a digital elevation model as a backdrop.

Looks like there are 81 data collections available, including base maps used for the Atlas of Canada (available in a couple of formats at a range of scales), various sets of topographic data generated from the RADARSAT-1 satellite, and print-ready versions of those classic topo maps. These last ones are seriously awesome — I’ve been using these maps for years when camping and canoeing, but had no idea I could simply download them for free!

Most of what I saw when jumping around was data or images that can be downloaded. Not sure how much of this stuff is available as a feed or via API, so I don’t know how easily this stuff could be re-purposed online on the fly by machines in that modern mashup style. But regardless, GeoGratis cool example of open and freely available Government of Canada data online.

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ReadWriteWeb – How Tim O’Reilly Aims to Change Government

The “government as a platform” idea is continuing to take root. Tim O’Reilly, Mr. Web 2.0 himself, has this grand vision for the US government:

“What I’ve learned from all these conversations,” O’Reilly says,”is about government as a platform. It’s not just social media use by government, or government using wikis. No, it’s something more profound. How do you think like a platform provider? We’ve moved our government from a lean vehicle for collective action, and over the last 200 years it has become so strong that it’s now 40% of GDP. I want to go back to the original vision of the role of government: a convener of things that we as individuals and companies can’t do alone. Standard setting, pilot programs; government providing enabling technologies for citizens to serve themselves.”

A big vision for sure — one that is sure to resonate with the hackers, developers and the transparency movement (Sunlight Foundation, MySociety, Visible Government etc.)

And he’ll be pushing it next month at the Gov 2.0 Summit in DC. (For those in Ottawa, he’s coming to GTEC in October to spread the same message.)

Drilling down — here’s a hint of how O’Reilly’s vision might look:

“… there’s an opportunity for government to say if people want to build services on this then we need the data we make public to be granular and timely. We should not be publishing updates once a month. Real time, local, responsive to users – those are new thinking for government.”

Indeed. But it’s clear that the US Government is receptive – moving ahead with initiatives like data.gov. The UK is also making strides in this direction.

But whither the Government of Canada? Are there any examples of our federal government moving in this direction? Is there an example of a GoC API out there? Some easy-to-use XML feeds? I’m not aware of anything. But then I’m just a lowly digital communicator…

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Nick is the lead voice of the CPSRenewal blog and an all round good guy. He’s just been interviewed at GovFresh in their Government 2.0 Heroes column. Well done!

Here’s his thoughts on how web 2.0 can be best applied in government:

What area of government offers the biggest opportunity for improvement via Web 2.0 tools?

My background is in conflict studies and organizational management, so it’s no surprise that the largest opportunity I see is better internal collaboration enabled by Web 2.0. For example, since the adoption of GCPEDIA (the Government of Canada’s official government-wide wiki) I have seen innovation through collaboration that would have been otherwise unattainable, and we are only at the tip of the iceberg.

I agree, my experience with GCpedia (sorry, link internal to GoC) has been really good so far – much better then I would have expected in fact. This wiki and other platforms (especially Twitter) have allowed me to connect with other public servants who’ve got similar interests and are dealing with similar issues. So, government 2.0 as public servants using collaborative technology to work more effectively. Fair enough; and an obvious first step.

But I would think that the greatest opportunities for government 2.0 are those with external focus – using the web to improve our relationship with citizens and stakeholders. After all, public service is ultimately what us bureaucrats are here for.

So what exactly? Just adding blog-style commenting functionality to government web content would be a huge improvement. But here’s some more evolved forms of externally focused web 2.0 use by government:

  • policy consultations: I’m thinking true online consultations here, where discussion can occur in a visible way, rather than the more usual way of asking for input online via an email address for making submissions. Recent examples bookmarked in my delicious account.
  • service delivery: many opportunities here, from providing data online (the idea behind data.gov) to web-based updates of more traditional forms of customer service, such as help desks – I could see use of Twitter in this light.
  • marketing and promotion: various marketing activities are a natural for web 2.0 use by government: social marketing (for example, lookit this cool thing from getprepared.gc.ca – complete with a Common Craft video!) and recruitment campaigns spring instantly to mind.
  • media/public/stakeholder relations: the rise of the participatory web means that if government wants to get the story out about issue X or program Y, it needs to be present in the social media space – both listening and storytelling. So being in touch with key bloggers, being present on social networks, the list goes on.

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At the end of March, the US federal government’s General Services Administration (GSA) signed memoranda of understanding with four well known social sites: YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo and blip.tv.

Well, as seen in this list of the Terms of Service Agreements from the US government’s Web Content Managers Forum, there are now many more sites and services included:

Click through the links above to get to PDFs of the agreements that have been negotiated.

I really like the fact that a service like AddThis has been cleared for US government agencies to work with. Empowering your site visitors to easily and quickly share your content is really important if you want your digital communications to remain relevant. Also shows a willingness to use what’s out there rather than reinventing the wheel — often the temptation is to develop a “government” version of something successful like this, which is pretty darned inefficient.

By the way, Twitter is not actually on the list. Here’s what it says at the other end of that link above:

Regarding Twitter, several federal agency attorneys (including attorneys at GSA and The White House) have determined that there are no issues with Twitter’s standard Terms of Service that would present legal problems for their agencies. For this reason, we are not negotiating any special Terms of Service with Twitter, and are simply “checking the box” for the standard Terms of Service when setting up a Twitter account.

This is what had been originally reported back in March as well.

I will also revise what I said when I originally blogged about these agreements:

I see this as a really positive step. It’s something that US public servants can point to in their efforts to reassure their managers and executives that it’s OK  for government to be on these major platforms. This will make it easier to go to where online audiences actually are.

We need the same kind of thing here — PWGSC and other central agencies are you listening? (Time to get on the phone to your counterparts in the GSA and ask them to share their templates!) [Time to start downloading those agreements and using them as a base for GoC use!]

(found via the Government Information Division blog)

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Here’s a great little thingamabob — Web Tech Guy and Angry Staff Person.

It was put together by Michael Edson, Director of Web and New Media Strategy for the Smithsonian. It’s  a dramatization of common forms of resistance to innovating the organization’s web presence.

"You people are just following a fad..."

"You people are just following a fad..."

It documents a common problem – online innovation being impeded by “an endless, fruitless debate about authority and trust.” More than that though, it proposes solutions, or in Michael’s words, this animation aims to counter the “traditional arguments against letting go of content.” It comes from an organization that’s in a very different business than mine, but I could easily recognize the behaviours represented. And I appreciate the suggestions for dealing with them!

Originally created as an animation – since WordPress.com won’t let me embed or upload it here, hop on over to the Smithosonian 2.0 to watch it.

And here’s a slideware-ized version (no audio, so much less fun):

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