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No government is an island

I live on a small island off the coast of British Columbia, across from Vancouver.

The Road status tool was built by volunteers, during the bad weather. It’s not a big deal in itself, but is a proof of concept at the very least.
Our next step, after completing the geo-tagging of roads, is to enable ad hoc loading of photos as well as text to the map. By anyone. Recently, one of the snow plow drivers and a fire dept employee added updates to segments, as private citizens. Although it facilitates transparency, this is not an us-them tool.

There are other next steps.

Implementation of simple new tools and initiatives such as these can only accelerate in the next few years. It is all about fulfilling the emergent expectations of participation among people within and without the enterprise – in this case, the government. It is not about waiting for governments to kindly open up their data stores, although that is a goal too.

Enterprise 2.0, defined by Harvard Business School’s Andrew McCaffee as “The use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers” helps fulfill the organization (in this case, the govt administration)’s strategic objectives, with limited overhead. It also potentiates people on the margins – in this case citizens. In old corporatespeak terms, this is win-win.

Issues of ownership and liability have to be ironed out along the way; one role of the organization is to trade off sole responsibility and ownership for the involvement of many. This give and take has to be negotiated with awareness and some grace, and in fact negotiating the changing relationship is a large part of the communications exercise. The humanizing notion that lubricates this change is the growing notion that we are in it together.

What is emergent is not a new socialism, but a new recognition of, and ability to deliver on, the nature of group behavior. Along the way, the nature of the org and the constituency changes; we need to measure this change to maximize benefit.

On BOWEGOV ( see delicious and twitter tagged materials with this name) very interesting work so far, and I am pleased to be part of it. Not just a means to an end, we’re finding some fascinating & rewarding group/personal interactions all along this road. Interested in hearing from others with similar experience.

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