Heading into the second decade of the 21st century, we constantly hear about how social media, geolocation, mobile apps and similar technological innovations are changing the way we interact with each other. But how are they changing the way we interact with our governments (particularly local governments)? Are they offering new opportunities for civic engagement? Are they changing the way residents view their role in local government, creating new opportunities for citizen involvement? Or are they cementing old ideas of citizens as customers by facilitating the delivery of government services?
These questions are of particular interest to those of us at the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership as we seek to help solve public problems by promoting citizen's participation in governance. We have created this blog to provide up-to-date information relating to what is being called "Government 2.0." We hope what you find here will help local governments and their residents make the most of the technology available for genuine citizen engagement.
New to Gov 2.0? Check out our foundational documents »
The following comes from an article written by a social media consultant about why outsourcing social media work is a bad idea. The author is writing to small businesses, but the advice is also sound for governments:
Don’t get me wrong: you can get lots of valuable help from social strategy consultants, SEO experts, marketing and branding professionals, writers and content curators. Just don’t think for a minute that they will be able to do your social networking and build engagement for you or as well as you and your team can do it with the right training and support.
The article goes on to list five excellent reasons for keeping social media in-house. You can read more here.
In a study by Accenture, the United States came in 8th out of 10 countries surveyed to determin citizen satisfaction with digital government services:
The ranking trails the top-rated United Arab Emirates as well as Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Norway, the United Kingdom, India and Germany.
The U.S. topped the list, however, in the maturity of its digital services and in researchers’ experience using those services.
Americans’ low satisfaction levels may be partly due to a sense that digital government services are aimed more at cutting costs than on providing better services for citizens, the researchers speculate.
You can read more here and access the full study here.
How do you improve a functioning, but chaotic traffic system? Consultants from the University of Nairobi, MIT, and Columbia made a go if it in Nairobi, beginning by crafting a digital map of the seemingly unmappable minibus system:
How do dozens of competing private bus companies keep a city’s public transportation system running without any formal planning? With a lot of success, it turns out. That’s according to a new map of Nairobi’s infamous matatu minibus system released last week.
As author Jason Patinkin points out, the Nairobi traffic system is still plenty chaotic, but the project provides an interesting opportunity to consider the art of building on strengths of an existing, organic system:
Already, Kenyan techies are using the data to improve apps that calculate the fastest route between two bus stops, while others are developing programs that crowdsource data from smart-phone-toting matatu passengers on crime, accidents, or pollution…Still, those involved in the Digital Matatus project caution that a map alone won’t solve Nairobi’s traffic woes. Matatus remain an inefficient, expensive system in serious need of regulation. But if city officials incorporate the data, they could reform the matatu system by learning from its strengths.
Read about this fascinating example of applying technology and civic engagement at Next City here.
Contributor: Benjamin Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’15.
The state of Arizona has a new platform for civic engagement, Arizona Voices, developed by MindMixer:
On www.azvoices.gov, registered voters are allowed to vote on bills in the legislature and discuss the issues impacting our state with fellow Arizonans and elected officials.
Developed by MindMixer, an Omaha-based civic engagement technology company, Arizona Voices was built to provide greater access for voters to engage in the legislative process.
“Arizona Voices was created to allow people living in remote areas or who don’t have time to attend committee meetings at the legislature to participate in the process of discussing public policy,” said Secretary Bennett. “Coming down to the capitol to personally express your thoughts and concerns on bills can be extremely inconvenient for most people who are working and going about their daily lives. This unique platform offers voters a chance to express their opinions without fighting traffic in Phoenix.”
You can read more here.
CA Forward features Alameda County and their initiatives to use technology to better serve their community. County residents now have a new tool for reporting issues like these to their Alameda County Public Works Agency, and it comes in the form of a smartphone application called Mobile Citizen. The app, available for iPhones and Android phones, allows citizens to take a photo of the problem and submit it along with GPS coordinates gathered by their phone.
“A lot of the time we’ll get some requests that aren’t in our jurisdiction, so it’s nice because we get the info and we put that request in,” Ruiz said.
You can learn more about its recent developments and how its changed since implementation here.
Contributor: Fhanysha Clark, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’15