As people who follow this blog know well, there’s a new movement afoot to make government work better through technology. This week, Samantha Gross covered the trend for the Associated Press, publishing a widely syndicated piece on how cities are using tech to cull ideas from citizens. In the private sector, leveraging collective intelligence is often called crowdsourcing. In open government, it’s citizensourcing — and in cities around the country, the approach is gaining traction:
Government officials tout such projects as money-savers that increase efficiency and improve transparency. Citizen advocates for the programs argue they offer something deeper — an opportunity to reignite civic responsibility and community participation.
In some ways, the new approach is simply a high-tech version of an old concept, says Ben Berkowitz, the CEO of SeeClickFix, which helps citizens post pothole-type complaints and track whether they’ve been addressed.
“It’s participatory democracy,” he says. “Open government … is something that was laid out by Thomas Jefferson pretty early on. This is just a way to realize that vision.”
Efforts towards open government in the United States remain in beta. It’s early days yet for all of these trends. On this day, however, it’s good news for the community that the AP reported a “Gov 2.0” approach took off in Manor, Texas because of financial concerns.
As Gross reported, city officials in Manor “decided they wanted to engage residents and beef up services beyond the means of their modest budget.” The approaches they chose to tap into the local civic surplus, including ideation platforms, QR codes and open source publishing, have been widely documented. Over the past month, QR codes and citizensourcing have been adopted in New York City.
Below, one of the officials – former Manor CIO Dustin Haisler – talks about what Manor did to implement Gov 2.0, speaking from a business perspective:
There’s a long road ahead for citizens, government and technology. This story in the Associated Press, however, will means that a few more citizens will be aware that change is afoot.