Social networks and the government forecasts for 2011
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Social Networks and the Government: Predictions for 2011 Gencat blog 1Cristina Aced, communication I look forward to (and hope to have) aconsultant relationship which continues to become more accessible and open. Using tools which facilitate participation, the government can make itself more accessible to the general public and become a bit more human. In fact, providing relevant, updated“Because of these efforts, we material which helps users search for information about administrativeare moving towards a procedures or allows them to handle themgovernment that serves its over the internet makes life easier for people. This also helps make thecitizens better, honoring the government more human, or at leastetymological origin of the contributes to people viewing theword administration: ad government more positively than they had in the past. Because of these efforts, weministrare (in the service of)” are moving towards a government that serves its citizens better, honoring the etymological origin of the word administration: ad ministrare (in the service of).
Social Networks and the Government: Predictions for 2011 Gencat blog 2Anna Cabañas, consultant We will see two contrasting kinds of models: those that justify the existence and use of social networks and force the government to use them, and those that integrate and blend these new realities into the government’s day-today operation to add value to services. In short, the real“In short, the real emerging emerging needs of both internal and external users will shape the newneeds of both internal and approaches which the government adopts.external users will shape the The biggest challenge of the next decadenew approaches which the will be to stop talking about publicgovernment adopts.” administration 2.0. The real evolution of government will take place in a natural, fluid way, free from restrictions which are tied to one model or another, where innovation is a critical component in effecting change and the use of technology becomes a simple narrative in the creation of a new public administration. This will be the result of understanding that, first and foremost, we need tools that can meet our needs before we address the needs that these new tools make possible, since public administrations will be motivated to follow this path to success because of the tangible returns they see on these investments, i.e. the value derived from their implementation.
Social Networks and the Government: Predictions for 2011 Gencat blog 3Simon Collister, social media With the current economic situation set toconsultant, specialist on continue – and in some Europeanpublic sector and NGOs countries, set to get worse – theres a real possibility that the initial steps made to utilise technology to make a difference to public services and ultimately peoples lives are likely to be replaced with a reluctance to continue innovating. This reluctance is a result of a double challenge to social innovators: firstly, funding opportunities for innovative - but“The big challenge for unproven projects – are likely to disappear. Secondly, there is currently agovernment will be to take lack of proven and scalable Web 2.0 publicthings a step further and fund service projects that can be rolled out to prove the potential of internet-enabledthe delivery of key public public service delivery.services using web 2.0technology” This puts social innovators and forward- thinking government departments and local authorities in a double-bind. While the desire for innovation remains alive, the reality of the public service cuts has potentially put an end to real experimentation. Crowdsourcing and wikinomics projects for improving the perception of government and its engagement with its citizens will be potentially useful – and Im certain we will see more to come – but the big challenge for government will be to take things a step further and fund the delivery of key public services using web 2.0 technology. By doing so the government may well achieve the greater efficiencies and collaborative public engagement that the pilot projects of 2009 and 2010 so tantalisingly promised.
Social Networks and the Government: Predictions for 2011 Gencat blog 4Marc Cortés, internet business Governments have always turned a blindstrategist eye to reality (and continue to do so), but it seems clear that they will need to actively take advantage of the development of social networks, especially given that these media make it easier to reach the public. We often link social networks to technology and forget that the most important thing is that social networks are“The government needs to be composed of relationships between people. Public administrations need toable to listen to and assess the begin to develop at least two kinds ofopinions of the public using programs which take advantage of onlineonline forums.” forums: 1. They should cultivate an online presence through which they can offer services to the public. For example, if more than 2 million Catalans are on Facebook, perhaps the government should consider that Facebook is an important venue for offering information services to the public; the government should listen to what its citizens have to say. 2. The government needs to be able to listen to and assess the opinions of the public using online forums, and should use these opinions as a tool to develop or adapt the policies of each branch of the public administration.
Social Networks and the Government: Predictions for 2011 Gencat blog 5Roc Fages, strategy and 2011 might be the year for realism 2.0innovation project consultant when it comes to how the government should handle social networks. What do I mean by realism 2.0? On the one hand, advanced 2.0 users are more and more choosy about how they use 2.0 tools. On the other hand, users who don’t currently use social networks professionally do use them on a personal level, but are not convinced that they are useful for relating to businesses or public organizations.“The government needs to Therefore, the government needs to knowknow how to carefully choose how to carefully choose its investments inits investments in 2.0. They 2.0. They should either develop tools forshould either develop tools for governmental workers or think more about the general public. Personally, I think thegovernmental workers or think best investment would be on the internalmore about the general side. Even though there are over 500 million users on Facebook, given the lackpublic.” of resources which is a result of the current financial crisis, it’s more realistic and less risky to invest our time and effort in going 2.0 internally before trying to investing in this for a general public that still sees these tools as a game.
Social Networks and the Government: Predictions for 2011 Gencat blog 6Jose Antonio del Moral, Given that it’s so hard for people toexpert consultant on social participate in open government, we willnetworks and author of the stop talking about it so much.blog Redes Sociales (socialnetworks) Open data will be one of the government’s biggest frustrations, since nobody (or almost nobody) will use it. It will be reworked to be easier to use and more relevant to business interests: for example, it will have more excel worksheets and less APIs.“Open data will be one of the Efforts will focus on active listening and will especially strive to use social networksgovernment’s biggest to better understand and meet thefrustrations, since nobody (or demands of the general public. Much effort will be expended in trainingalmost nobody) will use it. It government employees, since thewill be reworked to be easier government will understand that itsto use and more relevant to workers have to get involved in social networks to be in contact with the generalbusiness interests.” public. Open Administration is not a set of tools (as we have conceptualized it so far) but rather a set of people (government employees) who are ready to discuss and solve problems using social media.
Social Networks and the Government: Predictions for 2011 Gencat blog 7Tona Pou, social internet I’m not too optimistic about governmentalstrategist progress on social networks. It’s not that they’re not using them more frequently, because they are; it’s that the government does so as propaganda. It’s quite difficult to hold a (generalized) dialogue or conversation between public administrations and the general public. Of course, the government might use social networks to conduct surveys, solicit opinions, and demonstrate that the“Dialogues must first take government is open and transparent... but the problem is that the government isplace within the government neither open nor modern nor transparent.itself before publicadministrations can have an These conversations or dialogues must first take place within the government itselfeffective presence on social before public administrations can have annetworks.” effective presence on social networks. As long as technological resources, government communications, and the legal system continue to be the most important players in determining what information should be available, how it should be made available, and how it should be regulated, the government’s presence on social networks will be no more than a façade. Nevertheless, I believe that this restrictive system will change, and that 2011 will be the year when the first steps are taken to provide a coherent government presence on social networks, both internally and externally. If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t argue so much at work!
Social Networks and the Government: Predictions for 2011 Gencat blog 8Dolors Reig, social Several things will become more important inpsychologist, professor of terms of the form this will take and specificsocial media, social networks, trends: applications specifically designed forand educational innovation iPhones, Android phones, and Rim (BlackBerry phones) which provide mobile web services (and all of the new opportunities they generate); augmented reality; governmental presence in the new geolocation systems which we will soon see; or public participation in government using social networks connected to geolocation devices, which will allow the public to play a greater role in questions which until now“Public participation in were almost exclusively decided by the government (for example, Twitter has playedgovernment will become more an important role in questions of securityimportant; using social and public transportation). A prevailing debate which will probably be resolved innetworks connected to the next few months is whether these newgeolocation devices, the kinds of online participation are equivalent to, or less important than, other types of in-public will be able to play a person participation. An extreme example ofgreater role in questions this can be found in the USA, where people are already considering whether thewhich until now were almost electoral process’ growing presence onexclusively decided by the Facebook, Twitter, and even Foursquare has led to real changes in how people vote. Wegovernment. will surely see a period of contradictions when some public administrations who are aware of the importance of social media and a society which communicates over the internet coexist with others who deny this importance, probably due to a poor solution to their stage fright: their own seriousness. Similarly, another ongoing debate which will probably be resolved in 2011 has to do with whether or not archived tweets and notes from political blogs can be considered official press releases.
Social Networks and the Government: Predictions for 2011 Gencat blog 9Genís Roca, specialist in The public’s ability to organize, createonline business strategy structures, and share opinions online has caught public administrations off guard. This has happened at a dizzying speed, not being online has come to mean risking being out of the loop in the conversations on the net, seeing your identity usurped in these new online forums, and especially seeming unmodern. Something had to be done quickly, and the result of this was that every department and every ministry did what it wanted and what it could, thus“2011 will be the year of giving rise to a wide but uncontrolledcontrol. All kinds of governmental presence on social networks.procedures for social networks 2011 will be the year of control. All kindswill be defined and of procedures for social networks will bestandardized.” defined and standardized: who can open a government website and how; what goals it should have; what statistics must be kept; the content and who is allowed to provide this; what protocols will be used for crisis control; and a long list of oversight policies. Control will also imply closing sites which were opened with limited guidelines, standardizing oversight procedures, and systematically applying routines and protocols. Nevertheless, we will continue to make progress. And in my opinion, it’s progress in the right direction.
Social Networks and the Government: Predictions for 2011 Gencat blog 10María Salido, design and Times are tough, we have to do more withdevelopment of projects on less and at the same time transformnetworks, knowledge, and government’s role in a society which hastechnology changed substantially with the invention of the social structures we have today. Social networks, the internet, and new technologies will be an ally, helping organizations to dedicate less time and fewer resources to low-value processes so they can take advantage of new surplus time to innovate, generate value, and create new production tools and“Social networks will be an relationships which further enrich theirally, helping organizations to environments (in the broadest sense of thededicate less time and word enrich).resources to low-value Therefore, these tools will have a doubleprocesses so they can take impact on public structures: they willadvantage of new surplus time increase efficiency. Thanks to anto innovate, generate value,and create new production optimized use of knowledge, and they willtools and relationships which act as a catalyst for change and a new rolefurther enrich their for government. This new government willenvironments.” be able to take advantage of expert knowledge from beyond its borders; design new forms, formats, and purposes in its relationships with the users of its services; give support and credit to platforms the public itself organizes to solve common problems; launch projects for the public good which coordinate all kinds of agents; and become a hub of knowledge and organization of all of the energy that we need to manage the growing complexity of our society and to provide it with tools to improve and adapt to new contexts.
Social Networks and the Government: Predictions for 2011 Gencat blog 11Isabel Troytiño, consultor and As their name suggests, publiccoordinator of lab contents for administrations must provide a service toinnovative social networks society. Governmental activities are developed via methods to survey and study society which are often indirect. Using web-based tools, governments can gain access to the public, soliciting information in a simpler way and storing this information more easily than in the pre-“Facebook and other social internet era. However, Facebook andmedia are simply ephemeral other social media are simply ephemeral repositories of information; therepositories of information; government can only take advantage ofthe government can only take their content by means of professionals who can filter this information,advantage of their contents by professionals who know how to manage itmeans of professionals who and create something new, such as officialcan filter this information, announcements, subsidies, governmental promotional materials, communityprofessionals who know how projects, or making the most of physicalto manage and use it.” and human resources. Firstly, the government needs to ask itself what it wants to do on these (virtual) social networks. Next, it needs to decide if it wants to use generalized, pre-existing social media or virtual social networks with specific goals, while taking the risk that the public may decide to play a larger role in the creation of these services with the government. This is the most difficult step, and it needs to be considered most carefully. If the government is not willing to take these risks, in 2011 it will use social media because they are fashionable and will spend money on promoting its new 2.0 initiatives; this, however, has little do with the (long-term) processes of public participation and change. Innovation leads to new ways of using the technological tools we have today.
Social Networks and the Government: Predictions for 2011 Gencat blog 12Marc Vidal, expert in internet This is already taking place, but next year,socioeconomics the political prosumer (a citizen who interacts with the government) will stop seeing public sites as simple settings where to get concrete information and will inevitably begin to demand spaces which allow participation. The public administration’s challenge here is not“The public administration’s simply to have a website up and running but to open debates which generatechallenge with the internet is interest and have to do with what thenot simply to have a website public is really interested in and really needs.up and running but to opendebates which generate The internet is a space for collaboration,interest.” community, and constant change. Vertical structures will have to rework their internal processes and forms of communication. While the general public communicates in a fluid space where flexibility reigns, governmental institutions transfer their bureaucratic organizational model to the internet, making it impossible for the two communities to meet. I suppose that next year and in the next few years, adaptability will be a key factor for all public agents. Two-way communication and transparency will be the first step towards this new stage. This step only can (and indeed, must) be implemented via official websites, the creation of mobile applications which provide access to relevant 2.0 data streams, and a strategy which stimulates and monitors all of the forums for discourse generated by the government itself.