I was asked to speak yesterday at the e-Government National Awards Conference at the Savoy, in London – very nice gig btw!!! I was presenting on the potential impact of web 2.0 approaches and the development of mash-up applications to future e-Government services.
Coincidently a perfect example of what I was suggesting as a future approach was announced yesterday by the US Environmental Protection Agency who are taking their first steps by publishing the locations of some contaminated land sites in XML of their website, with the specific intention of allowing citizens to analyse the data themselves. Of course raw data has always been more available in the US and I not getting into that debate… the difference here is that by publishing data in XML the EPA are opening up the data for people to manipulate using their own lightweight applications.
Such approaches to providing public access to government information are by their nature simple and rapid to implement, with the current focus on “shared services” in government and bringing together back-end systems to reduce cost, we should not forget that they are simple and cheap approaches to providing greater levels of information to the citizen by allowing the citizen to carry out the analysis themselves.
Another key point I made was that the next generation of citizens, “Generation Y” if you like, are in many ways more open to sharing data, having grown up defining they characters on-line on mySpace and Bebo than today’s. However this willingness to share data with others, even government? comes from the fact that as authors their “own” their own data and are free to modify, correct and update it.
For anyone delivering the citizen services of the future here is an important lesson – it is NOT your data, it is the citizens and they must feel true ownership of it.
Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.