For me, three quotes epiomize what the recent Open Govt West BC conference was all about:
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1. “A digital citizenry doesn’t want to engage with an analog government.” According to David Eaves, government must transform itself from an outdated, industrial model to a more inclusive, Web 2.0-friendly one. It must embrace the technologies that a highly digitally literate citizenry uses so commonly in other areas of their lives.
Government needs look no further than the open source community for examples of how to do this. Many groups in this community operate with very limited resources. There have no choice but to collaborate, build external partnerships, and generally do things faster, better, and cheaper. This means relinquishing the locus of control and embracing ideas and solutions from others if they can help get the job done better. Government can learn a lesson from this model. And it’s up to change agents (like the folks at the OGWBC conference) to help make this happen.
2. “We’ve run out of money, so it’s time to think.” (Winston Churchill, via Chris Rasmussen) – Chris kindly shared with us the experiences of the American intelligence community around the collection of data. According to Chris, billions of dollars has been spent on platform after platform, but the gravy train is starting to run out. Agencies will now have to do more with less. They will have to think of ways they can involve the general public, the broader public sector, and private businesses in finding new and more efficient ways to tackle some of today’s big challenges. For B.C., addressing the problem of climate change immediately comes to mind here (e.g., Apps 4 Climate Action Contest.)
3. “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world.” (Archimedes, via I can’t remember who???) Citizens are looking to play a role in the way their world is run. They want unfettered access to the information that will help them do that. That means access to open data to mash up, transform, and repurpose into products and applications that will better society as a whole. That means being empowered by government to make a difference.
Awesome conference. So glad I could attend. A big thank you to everyone who worked so hard to put it all together.