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Friday, February 10, 2012

Which grade would you give to your local government (2.0)?

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I’m taking a break from Education (2.0) to spend some time trying to understand how we might transform local government with information technology, especially via social media. Gartner defines “Government 2.0” as the use of information technology to socialize and commoditize government services, processes and data.

A few months ago, I blogged about “Getting all A’s in school” to motivate the use of social media in education. For this post, I’ll “play” with a similar theme to motivate the use of social media in local government to facilitate:

  • Accountability and Advocacy
  • Business (public)
  • Communication
  • Democracy
  • Emergency preparedness and Engagement

We don’t want to give any F’s and in any case, this is just a gimmick to get some ideas flowing!

Accountability and Advocacy

As in my education post, government can do a much better job of advocacy by being more accountable as a result of transparency in its interaction with the citizens it serves. In a manner similar to what I described for education, social media between government and citizens could document government’s value to its citizens.

Business (public)

In conducting the people’s “business” government can deliver services more effectively and efficiently via information technology.

Communication

As a result, communication between government and its citizens would be vastly improved!

Democracy

Citizens would have greater opportunity to be heard!

Emergency preparedness/public safety and Engagement

It’s time to get practical…especially since I now live in Florida where severe hurricanes can disrupt the lives of millions of people! Due to our ability to forecast their potential severity, many lives can be saved by emergency preparedness. Especially since my county’s early social media efforts are being led by Seminole County Emergency Management, this is the best place to do more. Furthermore, my faith-based friends back in central Indiana where I lived previously are experimenting with Twitter to promote readiness. Even more is possible as efforts such as CrisisCommons suggest. I am especially intrigued by the application of the Ushahidi product Crowdmap to handle information coming out of a crisis. What is most encouraging is the pending FEMA certification of a course titled “Social Media for Natural Disaster Response and Recovery” offered by the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC).

Perhaps, public safety is another likely area to try with service providers such as Nixle which publishes alerts via text messaging as well as experiments with Twitter by neighboring Orlando Police.

No matter which grade you give your local government, it could get a better grade by using information technology and social media to engage its citizens!

Where do we go from here?

Perhaps, it’s time to convene a CityCamp, an international unconference series and online community focused on innovation for municipal governments and community organizations.

I’m going to share this with my County Manager…what will you do for your community?

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