Government 2.0

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General concept and also specific research project promoted by Don Tapscott.


Concept Definition

"Government 2.0 is the term for attempts to apply the social networking and integration advantages of Web 2.0 to the practice of government." (http://www.socialbrite.org/sharing-center/glossary/)

Adriel Hampton:

““Gov 2.0” is the idea that we can do government better through crowdsourcing, through open data standards and through the connectivity of social media. Tech guru Tim O’Reilly calls it “government as a platform". As Facebook and Twitter have allowed thousands of other companies to flourish by building upon their core services, government agencies can provide new services simply by opening important data they collect and curate.” (http://shareable.net/blog/occupy-the-cloud-what-occupy-wall-street-can-take-from-gov-20)

Project Description

From http://www.eu.socialtext.net/wiki-government-and-democracy/index.cgi?:

"For both emerging and established democratic societies, the Wikinomics era holds the promise and the inevitability of new models for delivering the functions of government. Government 2.0: Wikinomics, Government & Democracy is a global research project that will identify and analyze emerging opportunities to harness new models of collaboration to transform the public sector. It builds on a wealth of continuing research by New Paradigm – a renowned think tank led by author and strategist Don Tapscott – and a global faculty of experts.

The investigation will equip subscriber organizations with the insights required to harness new models of Web-based collaboration to reinvent the way they develop policy, partner across institutional boundaries, and engage and serve their constituents. The program will be conducted in partnership with the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners, funded by both governments around the world and private companies seeking to participate in this transformation." (http://www.eu.socialtext.net/wiki-government-and-democracy/index.cgi?)


Principles

Jason Ryan, from New Zealand:

"The five principles are:

  1. Data web
  2. Personalisation
  3. Open source government
  4. Search
  5. Authentication

Progress in each of these strands alone would significantly improve the .govt.nz namespace, deliver more value to both agencies and their publics and, importantly, align user experience in this space with best practice on the rest of the web.


Data web

As I have previously noted, the real issue for Govt 2.0 is around the data: who owns it and how is it managed? Microformats, semantic markup in general, and the approach that agency content is a resource to be shared are critical enablers to moving government web interactions beyond the current limited model.

Imagine you are building a new website for your agency. Do you view the content you are publishing (and/or aggregating) as being your agency’s IP, or do you see it as just a part of the wider mosaic, contributing to the whole namespace? If the latter, then you need to build in interoperability, web standards and some forward thinking about how the web might evolve so that the system benefits from your site.


Personalisation

Users across the web expect to be able to tailor their experience to their own requirements. Government is no different. The use of folksonomies, collabularies and the ability for users to create, for example, their own government homepage – to manage different agency accounts from the one place – would be a good indicator of a move towards Govt 2.0.

Ideally, users would also be able to save particular searches (see below), access records of their email, IMs or telephone calls with agency representatives and choose to release (or not) this information to other agencies. They would also be able to sign up for personalised RSS feeds that notified them when their rates/licenses/consultation documents are due. Essentially, enjoy a one-to-one relationship with government as a single entity.


Open source government

I don’t necessarily mean that government will be running on open source software (not a bad thing, in my view) but that individuals, communities and businesses are able to interact with government web applications in ways that are useful to them. So, we build web applications that allow the people who have funded to them to build, deploy and access their own APIs.


Keeping tabs on NZ Parliament.

Sites like TheyWorkForYou, and MAPLight.org are managing to do this sort of thing almost in spite of the way most government sites are currently built. With a little more imagination, and a lot more structured data, most government content could be accessed in so many more ways: mashed up with maps to provide geographic context/information, syndicated to community built portals to capture information of specific interest to farmers or small business operators, etc. The potential to distill disparate sources down to content interesting and useful to an array of niche interests is just waiting to be tapped.

Where applicable, government could share the APIs with groups to assist them to develop their own. If you want to drive economic transformation, give people the tools to discover information both relevant and useful to them, and give them a way to use that information.


Search

This should really have been higher up in the list in terms of priority, but as part of the narrative it sort of sits beneath the other three. The information must be discoverable. And once it has been discovered, it has to be able to be repackaged according to user interests. So, if I search newzealand.govt.nz for, say, information on a driver license, I should not only see the top returns, but the most followed links, feedback from other users in which pages were the most useful, recommendations from LTNZ about which pages may be of help and perhaps some contextual links to related searches.

Once this is in place, it becomes quite easy to create portals based on vertical or horizontal search. Government won’t need to keep putting up taxpayer dollars for sector or issue related websites, it will all just run off search.govt.nz. Authentication

All of this, of course, will be pointless unless we can move high-value transactions online. Being able to share my tax returns with a new accountant, or medical records with my GP, stuff that is dependent upon me establishing my identity with the agency and being sure that the party I am about to release my information to is who they claim to be.

We already have a government logon service where you can manage your usernames and passwords for government accounts (or credentials for higher level authentication, such as two-factor). This year will see the pilot of the Identity Verification Service, which will

- provide government agencies with a high level of confidence regarding the identity of the online user, while placing people in control of the transaction and protecting their privacy. This is the online approximation of a person presenting a passport or other proof of identity document in-person to an agency.

In many ways authentication is both the culmination of this story and the starting point. If we really want to deliver transformed government to New Zealanders, then adding an identity layer to the Internet here is the first step.


Conclusion

Whether or not I am right about these five principles, what remains abundantly clear is the fact that for government to be responsive, to engage effectively and to deliver value to New Zealanders in the age of Web 2.0 will require a reinvention of the way we think and work.

And, to be clear, this is not about technology: it is about developing solutions for social and governance challenges. The fact that it is happening on the web is just a reflection of the way that our culture is changing. In ten years time, most Kiwis will regard the Internet with the same sense of awe that they regard the television. The question we need to ask is, do we have to wait that long to deliver Govt 2.0?" (http://psnetwork.org.nz/blog/2007/04/29/5-principles-govt20/)


Typology

David Osimo reviews the interpretations of what Government 2.0 means and opts for Augmented Government:

“Here are 4 different visions I came across:

- no government scenario: Andrea Di Maio argues that government should give up building interfaces, and concentrating on releasing public data and web services. Private sector will take care of interfaces and identity management. On the same line, Robinson argues that government “rather than struggling, as it currently does, to design sites that meet end-user needs, it should focus on creating a simple, reliable and publicly accessible infrastructure that «exposes» the underlying data”. Similarly, Sunlight Foundation argues that government should not visualize but only expose the data.

- government websites as public goods: Tom Steinberg argues that citizens should be able to use public websites to connect to each other

- Tao government: with my colleague Cristiano Codagnone we proposed the metaphor of the chinese symbol “Tao”. We recognize that private – community initiative is not a substitute of government: government has a subsidiary role to play to ensure that all citizens benefit from public services. On top of that, these are not alternative, it’s not a zero sum game. Just like the Yin and the Yang are necessary to each other, and permanently changing, government and civil society should both invest in providing services and continuously collaborating to innovate and provide better services and to address the complex societal challenges of our times. The idea has been taken up by the European Commission in its Orientation paper

- Government as a platform: the metaphor of Tim O’Reilly suggests that government should imitate what Facebook, Google Android, and the iPhone AppStore are doing: to become a platform for value-added initiatives by developers. This is a powerful metaphor: it is appealing to government as it refers to similar initiative in the private sector where a mutual gain is realized (for the platform and the developer). Secondly, it reminds me strongly to a classical theoretical notion that sees private/nonprofit initiative as the “extension ladder” of the public welfare state, which was first proposed in 1912 by the Webbs." (http://techpresident.com/user-blog/it%E2%80%99s-not-about-small-or-large-government-gov20-augmented-government-0)


Discussion

Govt. 2.0 as a 'pseudo-public' space

Che Tibby:

"you could characterise web2.0 for governments as being like an arcade, or promenade.


An arcade is a big private space that has the appearance of being public. The bit where people walk about is ostensibly public, as are the shops in the arcade, but in point of fact they’re actually operating in a private space. The shop is owned by someone, but gives the shop the appearance of a public space to make it welcoming. It is actually a pseudo-public space.


My opinion is that web2.0 for government is a pseudo-public space, or at least should be to make it work effectively. Why? Because tapping the power of web2.0 is all about establishing communities, and especially communities of interest. If you have extreme control exercised by government over what is a social medium, then community will be stifled, or not appear at all. A limited amount of rules are OK (who goes into a shop and makes themselves at home? No one. You know you’re welcome, you chat, check out the goods, maybe buy something, and leave. It’s a structured public space). But too many rules are unhelpful and counterproductive.


By keeping in mind that pseudo-public spaces are the objective to make web2.0 work for government, agencies are more likely to experience successful evolution of beneficial and vibrant communities of interest. And communities of interest will allow nifty things like wikis and blogs to be used and applied by agencies." (http://objectdart.wordpress.com/2007/04/26/free-on-the-range/)

How the Movement Created a Persistent Presence

Adriel Hampton:

Persistence. In 2009, social media junkies wanted everything now. Government, where contracting disputes regularly drag on for years, was radically foreign to techies used to full corporate life cycles less protracted. GovLoop, a community for government innovators, was just getting started with several hundred members. Three years later, the organizers, advocates and entrepreneurs who persisted have created measurable change, passing open data laws in municipalities around the world and birthing thousands of applications from governments’ big data. These include the peer-to-peer climate protection challenges created during British Columbia’s “Apps 4 Climate Action,” and the new open innovation platform at Challenge.gov, where individual and institutional entrepreneurs use federal data to create new solutions for public health and more. GovLoop just hit 50,000 members. To succeed in rolling back societal inequality, crony capitalism and the invasive police state, Occupy must persist. That means organizing, it means pacing and it means evolution. It will take years. Platform. O’Reilly’s mantra for government and its genesis in the software world works for Occupy. Protest memes and tactics are infinitely extendable in a networked world. If a new slogan or method of action falls flat, it is quickly abandoned; if it is worthwhile, it spreads easily and quickly through email and social networks and can be adapted upon for new uses. +

Cloud. Gov 2.0’s embrace of software-as-a-service and on-demand computing has meant more, better, and faster civic technology. Whether it’s Socrata’s open data applications, Utah’s data center consolidation (which reduced 35 data center sites into two for an annual $4 million savings) or SeeClickFix’s mobile non-emergency-service reporting mobile app, scalable architecture and outsourced management has meant more flexibility and increased focus on information and services. The cloud paradigm means that computing resources can easily scale up and down to meet demand, and server maintenance and upgrades are handled by a dedicated team at a remote data center while technologists focus on applications instead of the infrastructure.

Media. Gov 2.0 and its elevation of social media as an accepted channel for official communications have given Occupy and its tech-savvy supporters a valuable weapon. Three years ago, we couldn’t find 200 government officials on Twitter. Today, thanks in large part to hundreds of communicators within government and scores of outside companies, social media use is ubiquitous among officials and widely followed by the mainstream media. This phenomenon helped facilitate instances like Andy Carvin’s coverages the Arab Spring via Twitter and late-night newsdesks adopting livestreamed social media eyewitnesses as sources. Occupy didn’t need to be taught to use livesteaming and Twitter hashtags, they were already there.” (http://shareable.net/blog/occupy-the-cloud-what-occupy-wall-street-can-take-from-gov-20)

More Information

  1. Public Services 2.0
  2. Government 2.0 best practices wiki at http://government20bestpractices.pbwiki.com/