The Future of Gov 2.0: iGov2s?
Last week, I spoke at CeBIT’s annual Gov 2 conference, held here in Canberra. The conference was opened by Senator Kate Lundy and featured an international key note address from NASA’s Nicholas Skytland. Nicholas’ presentation contained details of NASA’s impressive efforts in the social media sphere. His stories of tweeting astronauts, citizen science and other innovations certainly made for interesting listening. I recommend a visit to www.open.nasa.gov or www.data.nasa.gov to see what this level of investment can drive.
My mission was to talk about the Future of Gov 2.0 in the Australian Government context. My slides are available at the end of this post. I began by discussing how we in the APS are implementing the Government’s Declaration of Open Government and its imperatives to inform, engage and participate. In particular, I noted the introduction of Open PSI Principles, as demonstrated on our Department’s Information Publication Scheme site and changes to the FOI regime and deployments of social networking tools and sites by government (including 53 blogs, 52 Facebook accounts, 102 Twitter accounts, 369 RSS Feeds and 15,149 tweets just on #gov2au).
I also addressed the lessons learnt from our experiences in Gov 2.0 to date, such as going where the audience is, avoiding confusing open data with information, the ability to start small and try new approaches easily, the need to avoid just broadcasting, and the danger of falling prey to so-called social media experts.
I identified four risks in the use of social media by government:
- Snarkiness and Trolls: argumentative, abusive and other inappropriate and usually anonymous comments and options for managing them.
- The Curse of Second Life: the challenges of keeping up with changing technology and the necessity to avoid tightly coupling to a particular technology.
- Sometimes when you build it, they don’t come: the need to plan for social media activities just as one would any other activity that requires interaction with the public.
- Crowdsourcing is more about trees than forests: successful crowdsourcing is more about contacting many individuals than it is about taking a quasi opinion poll or counting ‘likes’ on websites.
Managing these risks requires a range of approaches including developing an understanding of what will work on Gov 2.0 and what won’t, managing the expectations of both executives and citizens, and using a try before you buy approach.
I concluding by looking at the emerging trends in social media use: mobility, personalisation, geolocation, and the use of small, specialised applications. Together, I think these will significantly drive the manner in which government both delivers services and interacts with citizens. As I see it, these trends are likely to materialise before we see practical implementations of Web 3.0.
Consequently, I described the future of Gov 2.0 as iGov2s: mobile, personal, and aware applications interacting with citizens to deliver services when and where they are needed. And, who knows, they might even talk back!
I’d welcome you to talk back too. If you’d like to, please comment below.