The KANZ Broadband Summit provides a unique opportunity for industry, research and policy representatives from Australia, Korea and New Zealand to share insights into trends and challenges in our increasing digital future. Dr Mark Elliott is the founder of Collabforge, an innovative consultancy responsible for a number of cutting-edge digital government initiatives within Australia and abroad. These include the City of Melbourne's Future Melbourne, a multi award winning world-first ‘City plan that anyone can edit’, as well as wePlan Parks Victoria, which leverages social media for the first time to ‘Help guide the future of Victoria’s parks’, and the Southern California Bicycle & Pedestrian Planning Wiki, comprising a new approach to public involvement in transportation planning.
Dr. Mark Elliott
Social technology strategy
Online community building
Collabforge works almost exclusively with government, local, state, federal, international.
Topics for this presentation:
1. Gov 2.0 - what it is & why it's important.
2. Some case studies, looking at what Australia has been doing in this space.
3. Finally, how the National Broadband Network is actually the supercharger that can take digital government to the next level.
Government 2.0... often referred to as Gov 2.0 for short.
Government 2.0 is big news in Australian digital government, and in digital government globally. What is it? A not so subtle reference to the intersection of government and Web 2.0. What is Web 2.0?
The second generation Web, where there is a movement away from static webpages, to dynamic and shareable content and social networking (YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr, blogging, Twitter, etc...). This shift is less to do with a revolution in technical capability, and more about the behaviour of how people use the Internet.
Instead of passive consumption along the lines of more traditional print media or television, Web 2.0 is about using the internet as a social platform for generating and sharing your own content, alongside the content provide by others, including organisations, and also governments.
Gov 2.0 then, is a rethinking of government as a platform for participation - for the public, but also, for government itself - which draws upon the tools, processes and learnings of Web 2.0.
There is great diversity with regard to Gov 2.0, so this presentation can only provide you with a keyhole view.
Collabforge has been working with UNESCO to establish an online community to support World Heritage implementation across the Pacific Islands.
As part of this work I met a dedicated lady who is employed at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre.
She acts as a liaison between UNESCO and Vanuatu’s World Heritage sites, mediating between unconnected villages, her government, UNESCO and other state interests and experts, many of whom working in Canberra at Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPC).
She is able to achieve all this, thanks to a single internet connected personal computer and a suite of online collaboration and communication tools.
In other words, it’s Web 2.0 that makes it possible for Vanuatu to manage its World Heritage sites and participate in the program...
If we consider this to represent the regional frontier of Gov 2.0, how is this phenomenon affecting Australian cities?...
The city plan ..that anyone can edit
The City of Melbourne was the first in the world to develop a truly collaborative city plan ‘that anyone could edit’.
The process first involved mapping the city's existing planning process, then reengineering this for collaboration.
futuremelbourne.com.auWhat resulted was a wiki-based collaborative platform and engagement strategy.
This strategy sought to first carefully establish an internal online community within the City of Melbourne itself, before growing the participation over time to include stakeholders and eventually public participants.
What resulted was quite remarkable, and has yet to be replicated on such a scale.
City planners collaborating with the public
Not a single instance of spam, off-topic or offensive contribution
Public could add, edit, delete content 24/7
World’s 1st collaborative city plan
City planners effectively collaborated with the public, exchanging information and helping each other improve the plan.
This resulted in two-way learning and outcomes that were beyond what the city could have achieved with its previous, comparatively ‘closed-door’, approach.
An example of a typical page in the plan. There is an edit button on every page that any logged in user can click.
After clicking the edit button, the user sees an editing suite, much like Microsoft Word or any other word processor.
Users simply type in their contribution, and click save.
‘Revision control’ functionality provides an audit trail that makes it easy to understand who contributed what.
This slide shows a relatively minor contribution.
Green highlighted text was added, and red highlighted text was deleted.
Contributions ranged from simple spelling corrections, through to extensive well-considered articles such as this one.
This contribution shared knowledge on how the city of Helsinki successfully dealt with bicycle lanes.
What's important to note here is that certain people are naturally drawn towards certain tasks and types of engagement...
...and that given a channel, people felt comfortable to express their creativity in the medium of policy development.
- With these sort of outcomes, we now realise it’s critical to re-evaluate what it means to engage the community, and what we can expect to receive in return.
- This further raises the challenge for organisations to participate and engage the public online.
- I’ve always felt this project could be extended in remarkable ways
- imagine a national network of ‘FutureCities’ collaborating together to share and build city planning practice and intelligence...
- We’ve gone on to employ this approach in a range of other contexts, such as national and state park management.
weplan.parks.vic.gov.au- Our work with Parks Victoria has focused on providing a strategic approach to collaborative public consultation across a range of projects in a more modular fashion.
Challenging the tyranny of distance
Preserves online community between projects
Recently Spotlighted by VIC Gov 2.0 Action Plan
This coordinated, organisation-wide approach to online collaboration and consultation is something we’re increasingly involved with (more recently with EPA Victoria).
Further, this approach helps Parks Victoria to overcome the distances involved in state-wide consultation,
and as mentioned, a modular approach to projects means new initiatives can draw upon the existing community
Finally, wePlan was recently given the spotlight by the Victorian Gov 2.0 Action Plan
Again, using a similar approach, we worked with SCAG to provide a collaborative planning and consultation platform.
bikepedwiki.scag.ca.govIn this case, for bicycle and pedestrian lanes - the first stages of the redevelopment of Southern California’s transportation plan
- Changing tack a bit,
- During the end of last year, we developed an online community component for the Department of Justice’s Vital Valued Victorians campaign.
- Its purpose was to thank Victoria’s emergency services volunteers such as the CFA and SES in the wake of the Black Saturday bushfires,
- and, to promote community awareness around being an emergency services volunteer in general.
Over 14,000 Facebook Fans
facebook.com/emergencyvolunteers- We sought to establish the initial conditions necessary to form a community, through first inviting trusted contributors.
- Then, we undertook the day to day community management under our avatar, VicVolunteer,
- and most importantly, by seeding content to the page designed to catalyse engagement and sharing.
- The various activities were all underpinned by a social media strategy, which was tailored to the unique circumstances and objectives of the campaign.
- One aspect that surprised us (although it probably shouldn’t have),
- were the user-submitted media and photos, which are powerful engagement generators.
- The caption for this photo reads:
- “I took this during the Black Saturday campaign and edited it in photoshop when I got home, the young man in question is from my Region and on his second ever strike team.”
trade.vic.gov.au- Changing tack yet again,
- We worked with the Victorian Department of Business and Innovation to re-imagine what an international trade mission looks like in the era of Web 2.0.
- In fact, a good part of our work revolves around helping governments answer the question “we know we need to do something in this space, but what?”
- In this case, outcome was a strategically designed interactive platform to underpin trade mission activity to India.
- This is only the first stage, with the next being to invite Indian business onto the platform to extend international trade discussions and networking.
- Where could this go from here? - we’ve got plans, but just imagine what eBay could teach us about international government trade missions...
intranet.vic.gov.au- For the final case study,
- We worked with Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet to redevelop the whole of Victorian Government intranet.
- Specifically, it was redeveloped for Web 2.0 functionality, with the aim of helping enable cross-departmental collaboration and innovation.
GOVERNMENT AS A PLATFORM
- So you can see from these examples that Gov 2.0 builds upon the platform of government, by extending participation into the virtual sphere.
- And of course government has always been a platform for particular individuals and groups to manage collective needs.
- But with Gov 2.0, what we’re seeing is a radical leap with regard to the capacity of this platform.
- Especially, its ability to accommodate a great many more participants as well as types and modes of participation.
- For example, recalling FutureMelbourne,
- The effective use of online collaborative policy development opened up the drafting process from what was traditionally as few as 5 people, to more than 500.
- The problems faced by our cities are shared problems.
- They are problems which other governments around the world have already made inroads towards resolving.
- Drawing on Gov 2.0 tools and processes extends the platform and enables solutions to be sourced from a wider pool of knowledge.
- A problem shared, after all, is a problem halved...
- and this is as true for ourselves (and apparently also our canine friends) as it is for our cities.
- The Helsinki bike lanes contribution from earlier is testament to this.
- And this capacity is expanding almost exponentially,
- taking us very quickly towards yet even more participatory forms of engagement.
- The OECD’s conception of participatory democracy fits well here I think....and it’s certainly a model that mirrors our approach generally.
- So how is the Australian government responding to this disruptive transformation?
- On this front, Australia, I'm proud to say, is leading the world in many respects.
- In response to these types of projects and opportunities, the Australian government established the Government 2.0 Taskforce in 2009.
- With 13 recommendations in the Taskforce’s report, the government has endorsed virtually all of them,
- and among other important actions, last year a Declaration of Open Government was delivered by the federal Minister for Finance and Deregulation.
- Further, the state of Victoria has released its own Government 2.0 Action Plan, which will no doubt be a great source of learning.
The NBN...and Government 2.0
- So finally, what are the implications for the NBN?
- Well, as I mentioned at the start of this presentation....
- I like to think of the NBN as the supercharger for Gov 2.0,
- igniting opportunities for broader participation in governance and policy development.
- Further, with the standardisation of high speed access the NBN will bring, and the massive boom in technological innovation this will unleash, whole new categories of participation will most certainly arise.
- The digital literacy of citizens will grow increasingly advanced,
- not just with regard to what they can create and engage with individually,
- but importantly how they can get things done together, and in terms of what they expect of government.
- As an illustration, think of the the recent Facebook and social network enabled unrest in the middle east.
- And as people become more empowered through these channels, so do their economies and ability to exploit opportunities.
- In this setting, the role of the national broadband network is the same that has been played by roads, rail, and the telephone in the past,
- opening up opportunities for those who were previously unconnected, and enabling corner stores to grow into international, economic powerhouses.
- Here’s what a virtual town hall meeting looks like in Second Life... where people interact with other citizens via virtual avatars...
- While this form of rich participation currently exists, it will be infrastructure such as the NBN that will enable its widespread adoption.
- The NBN points towards universal service, where all citizens, no matter how geographically dispersed, can participate in government activities, through a wide variety of media and modes.
- This is no more important than in Australia, one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world.
...a unique moment
- And therefore, the NBN represents a unique opportunity for Gov 2.0
- As with roads, rail and telephony, increased opportunities for participation ultimately equate with greater economic opportunities - for both government, industry, the public, everyone.
In our experience with Gov 2.0 initiatives, seeking to broaden opportunities for participation is likely to result in increasing:
- your pool of available knowledge,- the veracity of this knowledge,- buy-in and shared ownership,- innovation,- momentum,- resilience, and- understanding.
- Gov 2.0 is able to achieve this, because it builds on the foundations of democracy today, adding an additional layer which in essence leverages our collective intelligence.
- To me, Gov 2.0 is the natural extension of the unfinished project that is democracy.
Every man... feels that he is a
participator in the government of affairs, not merely at an election one
day in the year, but every day
- This was even foreseen by Thomas Jefferson when he imagined a future democracy where:
- Every man … feels that he is a participator in the government of affairs,
- not merely at an election one day in the year, but every day.
- Jefferson no doubt wasn’t thinking about the concept of Gov 2.0 when he penned these words, however lastly [next slide]...
- I’d like to recall something Australian Senator Kate Lundy brought to our attention during a presentation last year - something which can perhaps be positioned as another piece in the road towards Jefferson’s vision (& I paraphrase slightly),
- The NBN isn’t just economic infrastructure for the future, it is necessary social infrastructure which will drive equality of access and participation in government decision making into the future.