The Future of Gov 2.0: iGov2s?

John Sheridan - CIO & CISO
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Last week, I spoke at CeBIT's annual Gov 2 conference, held here in Canberra. The conference was opened by Senator Kate Lundy and featured an international key note address from NASA's Nicholas Skytland. Nicholas' presentation contained details of NASA's impressive efforts in the social media sphere. His stories of tweeting astronauts, citizen science and other innovations certainly made for interesting listening. I recommend a visit to or to see what this level of investment can drive.

My mission was to talk about the Future of Gov 2.0 in the Australian Government context. My slides are available at the end of this post. I began by discussing how we in the APS are implementing the Government's Declaration of Open Government and its imperatives to inform, engage and participate. In particular, I noted the introduction of Open PSI Principles, as demonstrated on our Department's Information Publication Scheme site and changes to the FOI regime and deployments of social networking tools and sites by government (including 53 blogs, 52 Facebook accounts, 102 Twitter accounts, 369 RSS Feeds and 15,149 tweets just on #gov2au).

I also addressed the lessons learnt from our experiences in Gov 2.0 to date, such as going where the audience is, avoiding confusing open data with information, the ability to start small and try new approaches easily, the need to avoid just broadcasting, and the danger of falling prey to so-called social media experts.

I identified four risks in the use of social media by government:

  1. Snarkiness and Trolls: argumentative, abusive and other inappropriate and usually anonymous comments and options for managing them.
  2. The Curse of Second Life: the challenges of keeping up with changing technology and the necessity to avoid tightly coupling to a particular technology.
  3. Sometimes when you build it, they don’t come: the need to plan for social media activities just as one would any other activity that requires interaction with the public.
  4. Crowdsourcing is more about trees than forests: successful crowdsourcing is more about contacting many individuals than it is about taking a quasi opinion poll or counting 'likes' on websites.

Managing these risks requires a range of approaches including developing an understanding of what will work on Gov 2.0 and what won't, managing the expectations of both executives and citizens, and using a try before you buy approach.

I concluded by looking at the emerging trends in social media use: mobility, personalisation, geolocation, and the use of small, specialised applications. Together, I think these will significantly drive the manner in which government both delivers services and interacts with citizens. As I see it, these trends are likely to materialise before we see practical implementations of Web 3.0.

Consequently, I described the future of Gov 2.0 as iGov2s: mobile, personal, and aware applications interacting with citizens to deliver services when and where they are needed. And, who knows, they might even talk back! I'd welcome you to talk back too.

If you'd like to, please comment below.

Presentation Slides


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Comments (7)

Hi John,

I thought this job description may be of some use to you.

The Brussels bubble is not much different than the Canberra one so you might be interested in some cultural differences. The main one is the use of "share" rather than "deliver" when describing services i.e. shared both between agencies (like govdex), and agencies and citizens Like govspace). The concept of "managing the expectations of both executives and citizens" seems to be quite a peculiar concept. ie. conflating management with governance.

You'd appreciate that governmental habits follow those of their educational institutions, and they're trying to change their habits for much the same reasons as .gov.

So for what agimo might be quest for a useful consultation vehicle is a VLE (virtual Learning Environment) for most unis in distance education.

We do seem to be firming up on the govdex and govspace domains as the place to put the interactive spaces in the federal arena. This cyberwhitepaper shows how a department will link the old submission-in-a-domain approach to an interactive space with a similar name (and forget to deposit the doc). And not point to it on the departments front page.

Ain't going back to school fun?

Thanks John.

Does anyone know of any other examples of interactive online policy consultation?

Regards, Di

As long as iGov2s has room for people who want to use desktops/laptops - which will often provide better a service than smartphones/smarttablets.

Hi John

Very nice indeed. iGov2s hot on the heals of iPhone4s.

I think that we need to do a bit of work on the 'talking back' element. That's very much about setting an example and making sure people know they can make a difference.

Thanks for sharing, John, that's a nice overview of recent history. I suspect most of the AGIMO blog audience is already converted to this Gov2 type of thinking, but there is still a long long journey for the majority of the public sector. Keep up the blogging, communication and transperancy!

Hi John,

Good presentation.

I still witness enormous gaps in knowledge and expertise between the Gov 2.0 and social media 'cans' and 'cannots' within the public sector and even within different divisions and sections of individual agencies.

This internal 'digital divide' poses additional risks for agencies as the lack of online qualified staff, or staff able to assess online qualified staff, lengthens learning curves, reduces effectiveness and increases reinvention. This means many agencies and parts of agencies are taking risks they need not, are not positioned to learn and extend successful approaches and that there are wide differentials in the online engagement citizens can expect from different agencies and their individual parts.

The gap is caused by factors such as;
- cultural and demographic differences regarding relevant communication and engagement processes that should or may be used by agencies,
- personal beliefs in the efficacy or lack of efficacy of online channels due to limited awareness and access to (or potentially belief in) relevant evidence,
- uneven access to online tools and channels due to IT budget or policy decisions,
- limited access to relevant training or support tools,
- limited agency-level integration of online channel specific policies in overall operational procedures and processes, and
- limited intra and inter-agency knowledge sharing outside of formal (paid) conference participation.

As the public sector addresses the causes of this gap, through policy, procedural, leadership and engagement, it will be more uniformly equipped to engage in high quality, highly effective online initiatives, respond to external initiatives and react to environmental changes in a timely and appropriate manner.

Is any Commonwealth Government department using interactive online methods for policy consultation, as recommended by Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0?

Last updated: 01 August 2016