A brief chat with Microsoft about Government 2.0

Kristin Bockius, the SLG Relationship Marketing Manager in Microsoft’s Public Sector group was nice enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about Microsoft’s Gov2Social platform and other Government 2.0 initiatives taking place at Microsoft.

Q. Microsoft has taken many positive steps on the Government 2.0 front, what is Microsoft’s view on Government 2.0?
A. The next generation of government—Gov 2.0—has a unique opportunity to embrace these engaging social media technologies, which are already proving their business value in the private sector as well as their social value to individuals. However, to make Web 2.0 practical for government, enterprise strategies are required—that is, an information technology (IT) platform that provides appropriate security, scalability, and interoperability. For more information about our view on Gov 2.0, check out our recent whitepaper

Q. How is Microsoft approaching this effort and what solutions is it providing at the local government level? At the Federal Government level?
A. We want to help government customers take an enterprise approach to Gov 2.0 and provide them with all of the resources they need to get there. In addition to Gov2Social, a great example of this is our Gov 2.0 Ready Kit. You can also learn more about our Microsoft approach to Gov 2.0 at Bright Side of Government, our blog that offers insight into the technology trends and issues that impact State and Local government and FutureFed, our federal blog that serves as a valuable source of information for federal employees.

Q. Is Microsoft primarily focused on Government 2.0 efforts in the US or are there other key markets?
A. For the purposes of Gov2Social specifically, we are primarily focused on US state and local government. As we grow, however, we may also add data on social media usage to the website for the federal government and worldwide governments. And I can tell you that our worldwide government team hosts Gov 2.0 Camps all over the world and they are also looking at bringing Gov2Social to other countries. More info on that as we get into our next fiscal year.

Q. What is your view of Open 311 standards and what, if anything, is Microsoft doing to help this and related data “standards” become a reality?
A. I think the biggest data challenge for governments is to make the raw data relevant to constituents and meaningful for decision making. One of best examples of Open 311 standards I’ve recently seen is probably Miami 311, the City of Miami’s implementation of the Open 311 API through HeyGov! Built on the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud platform, HeyGov! is an open system that can help developers bridge communication between citizens and governments through a common web interface which also encourages developers to build additional solutions with other non-Microsoft platforms and technology. Stuart McKee, Microsoft’s State and Local Government National Technology Officer, recently wrote a blog post about Open 311 standards on Bright Side of Government, and he has a lot of insight into this topic.

Q. What is Gov2Social? I know it’s a directory of sorts, why is it important?
A. Gov2Social is a standalone Web site which serves as a resource to state and local governments across the United States while demonstrating the adoption of social media as a way to connect with citizens and create open and transparent government. Because it serves as a centralized social media directory and is organized by city/town, county, and state, the site will also be a key resource for citizens who wish to follow the actions, activities, and announcements of their governments and elected officials on social media. In the next few weeks, we will be adding best practices and podcasts highlighting government 2.0 at work in state and local government, and we will be inviting state and local governments to add to those resources with links to more best practice content.

Q. Location based services like GoWalla and Foursquare are still immature but have real potential. Do these types of solutions fit into MIcrosoft vision of Government 2.0 technologies? If yes, how so?
A. At this point, I don’t know of plans to include features like that in our Gov 2.0 technologies. I have looked into these tools myself and have wondered how I could use them to connect with Government. I personally feel that they have more commercial use, unless they were integrated into a 311 solution.

Q. A big need at the local government level is education but budgets are tighter than ever. How is this effort or others Microsoft is putting forward, addressing this need?
A. Have you heard of Elevate America – Microsoft is working with states & the VA to help educate their citizens on Microsoft technologies in order to help with jobs.

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