Beyond Transparency & Engagement

By: Nik Garkusha, April 4, 2011

A great article this morning from Michael Schaefer -  one of the leading social media marketing experts – outlines  Five Mega-trends: How Social Media is Transforming Government

Citing a number of examples of Gov 2.0 initiatives around the world, Schaefer articulates 5 significant trends that are transforming the way governments communicate & engage citizens:

  1. The cry for transparency
  2. Beyond transparency – citizen engagement
  3. Humanizing government
  4. Crisis management
  5. Real-time response

The first two trends: Transparency and Citizen Engagement are already changing the face of Open Government initiatives, particularly when they are powered by a concrete Open Data strategy. In my own talk “I Sing The Data Open”, I describe the progression of today’s Open Gov initiatives from transparency, to participation, to engagement. But, there is a more advanced phase of Open Gov / Gov 2.0 initiatives, which up-and-coming, a “sixths” mega trend: collaboration.

Beyond Transparency, beyond Engagement – is Collaboration, where Citizens actively contribute back cleaned, improved & optimized data, as well as new meta-data built on top of original datasets. Rufus Pollock’s recent post on the Open Knowledge Foundation blog discusses this need for a “feedback loop”, a way to share the data, metadata & resulting knowledge back to the publishers.

Open Gov Collaboration: this is where Gov 2.0 comes full circle to realize its fullest potential. It’s a new model of citizen-centric government-to-citizen engagement, characterized by collaboration and enabled by:

  1. Open Data as a pillar of government business, at the core of government’s operations, powered by an Open Government Cloud platform
  2. Data publishing mechanisms exposing Open Data “feeds” to power catalogues, data APIs & web services and citizen-ready applications
  3. Effective re-capture mechanisms, powered by data- and meta-data merge frameworks, with workflows to review, approve & integrate the newfound knowledge.

These are the pre-requisites of an Open Government Platform that not only provides vehicles to drive better transparency and engagement with citizens, but also has an effective “listening and learning” mechanism to wrangle the knowledge of the masses, ensuring the loop is closed and citizens are not just being engaged with, but are integral part of Gov 2.0 initiatives.

The building blocks to support Gov Collaboration Initiatives exist today. However, it is the evolution toward one integrated end-to-end Open Gov Platform of tomorrow, at the core of government processes, that will transform the way governments implement their open data mandates, giving citizens the lead role in the Open Gov process.

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