Is it me or does there seem to be some, well in fact a lot, of confusion surrounding the term Gov2.0? For starters the term Gov2.0 makes me want to vomit. I seem to group it in with those people that do air-quotation marks when referring to something. Don’t you cringe when people do that? A little piece of me dies inside when I witness those close to me that do it. I bet you’re wondering why this bothers me. I couldn’t tell you. It just does. I’m sure you all have you own idiosyncrasies that when asked to explain you can’t because people wouldn’t “understand”.
For many, the term Gov2.0 seems to have become the phrase that pretty much encompasses the Government’s shift in being a little more open with their citizens. Granted, Gov2.0 sums it up well, but there’s more to it. In fact this movement (that’s if it’s OK to call this a movement?), started a long time ago.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
Meet Carl Malamud, founder of public.resource.org, and recognized as the “father” of the Gov2.0 movement. It was in 1993, which is relatively early in the history of the World Wide Web, that Malamud put the SEC online. It was important to him that the public had access to the SEC’s data, so by the mid-90s it was. Eventually he donated this data to the US Federal Government and it was available for all to see. This created the US Governments first real web presence.
Now, let’s fast forward almost 20 years, and look at how Gov2.0 has evolved in our society.
The term itself means many things to many people, and when asked to try and define its meaning Gov2.0 has been described as, “the adoption of Web 2.0 social platforms and tools inside government to help improve citizen engagement and collaboration between government and citizens” and “The aim of Government 2.0 is to make government information more accessible and useable…” They’re pretty good summations, but in my view I think of Gov2.0 as a Russian doll. Once you open it up there’s more and more inside to contend with.
In essence it’s split into two distinct areas: eGovt and eGov.
eGovt (electronic Government)
This covers a wide range of public services that are reorganized and improved using Information and Communication Technology (ICT). This includes:
- Automation of Government: replacing current human executed processes like storing, processing, and outputting or transmitting information
- Informatization of Government: using ICT to support current human-executed information processes like decision making, and communication and decision implementation
- Transformation of Government: creates new ICT executed information processes or supports new human-executed information processes by way of creating new methods of public service
The whole basis for embracing the use of ICT allows for a more efficient and effective Government for its citizens. They cite that they can spend less but produce the same outputs at a higher standard, and at a lower cost. The money saved here can then be used to promote and create new products such as paying bills online. Singapore’s eGovt website, ecitizens.gov.sg, is organized with the needs of its citizens in mind, and has become a leading eGovt site that delivers more convenience, and benefits those that live and work in Singapore.
eGov (electronic Governance)
This is the enhancement of digital connections between Government-to-Government (G2G), Government-to-Citizens (G2C), Government-to-Employees (G2E), and Government-to-Businesses (G2B). A great example of this in motion is the crisis mapping site Ushahidi.com.
Originally developed to map the reports of violence in Kenya after the 2008 disputed elections, Ushahidi.com (Swahili for testimony) allows users, the public and volunteers, to submit eyewitness accounts and/or other relevant information in a disaster situation via email, text, or Twitter.
It’s most notable use was during the Haiti earthquake in 2010. Within 2 hours UshahidaHaiti was setup and became an international relief helper. It involved 100s of volunteers who were able to translate real-time text messages, and pass this information to ground search and rescue teams.
For eGovt and eGov to be accessible to everyone, anywhere, and anytime, Government websites around the world are going mobile.
mGovt (mobile Government)
This is the extension of eGovt to mobile platforms, and their strategic use of government services and apps. It’s especially relevant to developing countries with slow internet penetration and high cellphone use as it makes Government services available anytime and anywhere.
This is particularly relevant in the Philippines. mGovt has improved healthcare through SMS. Rural doctors and healthcare workers can now send text messages to specialists located at the general hospital in Manila and receive instant assistance on how to treat patients. Therefore internet connectivity is no longer an issue.
mGov (mobile Governance)
This is the social media arm of your Government. As we all know social media is a global phenomenon, and even though it’s taken Governments some time to come round to this fact (should we all thank Obama for that?), if your Government hasn’t got a Facebook page yet, they most certainly will have soon.
Social media has become vital in communicating citizens and the rest of the world. Think of the recent uprisings in Syria, Tunisia and Egypt. I’m sure we were all privy to some certain disturbing images, and footage, but because of the use of smartphone technology, and other social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube, people can now post information that wouldn’t necessarily make it into mainstream media.
Is it relevant for everyone?
The big question that remains, is do you find yourself embracing this as your Government intends you to? Paying bills online via their website is great. Personally I just pay everything via my online bank account, not my Government website. In the past year I only used their website once to find out bus times. But would I follow them on Facebook or Twitter? My answer to that would be no, but I’m fortunate enough to live in a city where there’s an abundance of information all around me.
According to the UN’s current eGovernment Readiness Index, South Korea, the Netherlands, and the UK ranked the highest out of 50 countries. Countries such as the Philippines, India, Thailand, or China weren’t even mentioned. So to me in places where information could potentially be a matter of life or death, i.e. if a gigantic wave was heading your way (as was the case in 2004), then the continued development of Gov2.0, especially mGovt, is vital to its citizens, more so than whether or not you can pay your bills online and on time.
What’s your opinion of Gov2.0?