Before January ends, it’s time to build your government technology vision for the rest of 2012. Technology will be particularly critical for achieving your operational and community outreach goals this year. It drives success, improvement, and cost efficiency. I’ve put together a list of focus areas that I think are critical for government to consider.
This Pew Reasearch Poll should give you some useful perspective for where your 2012 government technology vision should take you: about 40% of ALL adult internet users have gone online for raw data about government spending and activities; included in that group, 22% went looking to read legislation. Think about this: since 79% of all adults in the US are internet users, that means that about 41.4 MILLION adult U.S. citizens wanted to read legislation online last year!
If the above statistics showed us anything it’s that people are interested in government, now more than ever, and more importantly, they want it online. With that in mind, here's a roadmap for government technology success to help you plan:
In any form of democracy, the government is of the people, so it is important to engender as much connectivity and engagement with the people. It seems like almost every tool being developed today has something to do with connecting people, so the tools becoming available can be very powerful if utilized wisely and consistently.
- Social Networking: Twitter and Facebook are clear leaders for easy connectivity to citizens. But what else is there? In Google’s own words, Google+ isn’t quite ready for organizations of any sort, but keep an eye on it as something may pop later this year.
- Direct Legislative Feedback: A new way for citizens to participate in meetings without attending is by giving them ways to respond directly to the official publishing of legislative data. Feedback and comment functionality as well as social network sharing have unquestionable benefits.
- Online Town Hall and Ideation Solutions: While getting direct legislative feedback is citizen involvement with the legislative process itself, getting communities together online to discuss their ideas prior is what creates great societies. I’ll have more to say on this topic in a later blog.
Mobility & Going Paperless
While green paperless initiatives and mobility are not immediately obvious partners, once you start implementing the two, you find they truly do go hand in hand. The advantages of both will lead to astounding dollar savings.
- Mobile Device Apps: Mobile devices are not toys and they are not trends. Citizens concern themselves with many different things and so the more data you can offer through mobile devices, the more in tune you will be with your citizens… and the less human effort needed to serve out info in person or on the phone!
- Replace Paper with iPads: There once was a debate as to whether or not there was a valid business case for public sector employees to have telephones. The iPad is a game-changing tool, just like the telephone. More and more, we’re seeing the iPad replacing paper everywhere… Apple just announced its intention to replace text books in schools. Governments and agencies are no exception, in fact Maricopa, AZ recently reported that they’re saving over $5k per year with their move to the iPad. They’ll be talking about that during the Governing on the iPad webinar.
- Mobile Device Management Technology: Since IT departments are paid to be security-conscious, they will be relieved to find the blossoming mobile device management tech out there, such as AirWatch, to help control what data is used and what applications are installed on mobile devices on their network.
- Government Sponsored Hackathons: A great way to combine your Mobile Device App strategy, an Open Data strategy, and a Citizen Engagement strategy is to sponsor hackathons like ours which brings together some of the brightest minds to create mobile applications out of open government data. You have the data, let the people build the apps! Contact us if you want help with creating a hackathon.
Accessibility & Open Data
- Maximize Online Data: Open government is a huge issue for almost every citizen. It’s the people’s government and they want to access their data. Besides, more online data for the citizenry means less personnel needed to answer inquiries.
- Easy navigation: Take a good look at your website. How hard is it for people to locate legislation, supporting documentation, votes, meeting video, calendars, and agendas? Being an open government means more than merely allowing people to access data, it means providing a conducive means for getting the data.
- Reporting: As I mentioned earlier, 40+ million adult internet users are looking for raw data from their governments and agencies. Look at ways to provide data reporting to the public.
New technology should mean better efficiency, which should mean savings and greater efficacy.
- Cloud Solutions: The argument for a partial or whole cloud strategy has been well established. Your data can be safer for less cost. You enable a secure mobile network. Savings and efficiency comes naturally in the cloud.
- Automating Workflows: How often do people in your office need to take a piece of paper from one person to another for approvals? How much time does it take to put together an agenda packet and then print it and distribute it? Automate it all! Eliminating human repetition is key to effective government administration.
- Shared Services: Think about sharing services with other governments and agencies. Various municipalities everywhere are finding ways to share everything from garbage removal to data centers to multi-tenant application services, producing huge savings.
I strongly encourage you to check out how Granicus addresses these areas and complete this form if you would like to receive a demo of what we have to offer! And please comment if you have any further ideas of what to focus on in creating a vision for 2012!