“I began the Gov 2.0 taskforce thinking that open government was a kind of civil rights agenda, even if it has economic costs,” said Nicholas Gruen last week in Santa Clara at the Strata Conference. Gruen headed Australia’s Gov 2.0 taskforce. “At the end of it, I realized that open government was actually a really powerful economic driver.”
Why? Gruen pointed to the efficiencies presented inside of government by improved communication and the opportunities to ask citizens for ideas and solutions to problems. “Even if our team said we couldn’t do it technically, I just said we’ll tell everyone that we need help and approach it that way.” Asking questions was, he said, an effective means of accomplishing many tasks much faster than they would have been otherwise.
In a video interview, embedded below, Gruen talked more about the state of Gov 2.0 in Australia and some of his thoughts of the economics involved His comments on cultural change will be of particular interest those focused on technology as a panacea to inefficiency or engagement.
The recent historic flooding in Australia created an urgent use case for improved communications between the public and government. “When you look at the Queensland floods, the Facebook of the police department use blew people away,” said Gruen. “Their links got many comments and compliments.”
For more about how social media combine with geospatial mapping in crisis response, read about a new online application from geospatial mapping giant ESRI that applies trend analysis to help responders to Australia’s recent floods create relevance and context from citizen-generated reports.
Achieving better outcomes through technology isn’t just about setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account, emphasized Gruen. Public servants have to be willing to share information that matters to citizens and in turn listen to feedback from the public to create better feedback loops.
“This is a cultural transformation,” said Gruen. “You can’t impose that. You can’t dictate it.”
Further reading: “Gov 2.0 Down Under: Australia and Open Government“