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Govs Gear Up for "Challenging" 2.0

Govs Gear Up for "Challenging" 2.0

While e-government revolved around putting citizen services on the Web. Gov 2.0 steps citizen interaction up a notch

Governments around the world are moving to replace e-government with Gov 2.0, but many challenges remain, according to market research firm Government Insights, (GI) an IDC company.

GI cites a range of evidence of early adoption, including the US government's consolidated portal, Govgab, the topical blog posted by its General Services Administration and the 27 US states that are actively working with Web 2.0. It points out the Canadian government is using Second Life for recruiting purposes; Thailand, Malaysia, New Zealand are, like Australia, using blogs, officially and unofficially; and social networks have sprung up in the United Kingdom designed to goad local governments to fix problems.

GI points out that while e-government revolved around putting citizen services on the Web. Gov 2.0 steps citizen interaction up a level by allowing assessment, sharing and interaction with information to create new opportunities and to allow agencies to deliver more holistic services to citizens.

That, it says, poses a number of challenges threatening to impede that Web 2.0 future, not least that of trying to integrate the new technologies of Web 2.0 with existing technologies. And it says other difficulties arise because while the huge number of older government workers resist adoption, their younger counterparts are clamouring for the technologies.

Governments in countries that are bilingual, such as Canada, also face questions about the language government workers should be blogging in, while participation rates in blogs and wikis tend to be extremely low, raising questions about the representativeness of the views represented. Governments also raised concerns about the transparency of wikis and blogs, their impact on decision making and the expectations they raise.

The report comes as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the body that sets international technical standards for the web, announces the creation of an eGovernment Interest Group (eGov IG) to explore how best to use the Web to improve participation and access to government.

The consortium says access to information by all citizens is at the heart of the effort, the group's chair told the UK's E-government Bulletin this month.

The Bulletin says the group will provide a forum to support researchers, developers, solution providers, and users of government Web services. It will work towards production of a set of 'interest group notes' including examples of best practice, guidelines and information on new technologies and future developments.

The consortium says it has created three task forces to produce the notes, focusing on use of open standards; transparency and participation; and seamless integration of data.

The group will be open to the public and the consortium is encouraging practitioners and people interested in e-government especially encouraged to take part: www.w3.org

The eGov IG is co-chaired by Jose Alonso with Kevin Novak of the American Institute of Architects, and held its first meeting by teleconference on 25 June. The group is scheduled to run until May 2009, when it should publish the final version of its notes.

Jose Alonso, W3C fellow and chair of the new interest group, told the Bulletin wider use of open standards by government will help preserve people's rights of access to public data. "Following interoperable, open Web standards helps ensure access to information by people with diverse capabilities, using a broad range of devices, and helps ensure that "the people's data" will remain available long into the future," he said.

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