This post is, in some ways, an extension of another from last week called “The Three Dimensions of Open Government“.
“Open government” is a term that’s getting a reasonable amount of use these past few years. It’s overtaken an earlier term “Gov 2.0”. That doesn’t surprise me. “Gov 2.0” seems a little dated (as, in fact, does anything “2.0”). That’s the danger with these numbers, be it “2.0” or “2000”, they date quickly and people are ready to move on to the next. But I think we lost something when we moved on from Gov 2.0 to Open Government.
Open government is a fine term for capturing how government interaction with citizens is changing (or could change), especially as a result of some emerging technologies and the changes that they are bringing. But what it doesn’t capture is the changes that these technologies are (or could) bring entirely within government. Tools like Intellipedia can change the way we work in government, enabling improved collaboration and breaking down cultural silos. I think these opportunities are significant and was looking for a way to include them. Here’s what I came up with.
Just like last time, this is early, unfinished thinking. Contributions to help improve and refine are welcome. Last time I drew a Venn diagram. This looks something like that, but I’m really thinking of two cycles of activity: one in society, one in government, where society drives government action and government meets societal needs. An interlocking gear diagram might work just as well, if not better.
Here’s what I am trying to convey.
1. Technology drives social expectations.
Emerging technologies interact with our society and culture. Many of the most successful sites/products/companies are built on the content we contribute (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia, Instragram, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.). Heck, even Google achieved greatness by analyzing and leveraging the links we built into our websites. We are moving from a society where we expect to sit back and be fed by others to where we expect to contribute with our intellectual capital.
2. Social expectations drive demands on government
This social change from consumer to participant is affecting how citizens want to interact with their government. We’re seeing greater demands for involvement, manifested as the call for “open government” discussed in the previous post. But let’s not forget that civil servants are citizens, too. These cultural changes (especially but not exclusively in our younger cohort) drive changes in our expectations of government as an employer. Employees are looking to connect and coordinate with colleagues at work the same way that they do with friends at home.
3. New demands on government, combined with the efficiency opportunities in the new technologies, drive government technology adoption.
They spark our initial forays into social media (although it may be out of our comfort zone, bringing issues of information management, accessibility and privacy, loss of control over the discussion, etc.). They prompt the adoption of internal collaboration platforms, like the Intellipedia platform already discussed along with the rest of the Intellink tools, GCpedia and GC Connex in our Canadian federal government or OPSpedia (wiki, blogging platform and professional network in my own government).
4. Technology adoption drives efficiency/innovation.
These new tools enable us to try new ways of doing things. They break down barriers between silos in government, opening us up to different perspectives and different potential solutions to our problems. They enable us to connect with others who are facing (or have faced) our problems before so that sometimes we can avoid reinventing the wheel. In a multitude of ways they increase efficiency and promote innovation.
5. Efficiency/innovation drives improved services.
These changes enable us to deliver existing services better. Here in Ontario, we’ve seen incredible improvements in the delivery of services like birth registration leading to “money-back guarantees” for quick turn around. Or look at the changes, driven by innovation and technology adoption, that are coming to GOV.UK. They also enable us to deliver new services, like the BeADonor.ca organ donor registry we built here. I should mention that I’m using the word “services” broadly here, to include anything that meets citizen needs – including needs for improved engagement. So government presence on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. would also fit this, if that’s what citizens are looking for, as would open data prorgams.
6. Improved services meet citizen needs.
That’s the goal and ideal, right? If we’ve got the other parts right – understanding what citizens are asking from us and using innovation and efficiency to deliver, this should be the result.