Should local governments deploy Web 2.0 applications as part of an online services portfolio? Speakers at the Pennsylvania Digital Government Summit, sponsored by Government Technology magazine, were four-square in favor but urged CIOs to move deliberately, ComputerWorld reports.
"I'm not here to tell government to just jump in," said James Young, the associate vice president for information services at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. "It takes a while to adopt this stuff because we don't know what is going to work and what's not going to work."
Still, there is virtue in "creating a buzz." Create a Google Maps mashup, or put a policy wiki online to make people feel connected with government. It's supposed to be the people's government, after all. In Missouri, the state government built a Second Life location to show off IT opportunities. This apparently makes "it more user-driven, rather than organization-driven," says Young. On the other hand:
"I don't do anything virtual world," Ron Mont, an application developer with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, says. "I don't have time for that. My day is filled with building applications that are mandated by my higher-ups."Cisco was there to push Web 2.0 with lines like: "Think about what this is teaching the next generation about how they can communicate with government." And: "The expectations are changing. That's changing your priorities." Local government will move more slowly. Mary Benner, CIO of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, called it "something that we need to pursue, but it is not an immediate priority." For the most part CIOs seemed to be most interested in using Web2 to attract new IT workers, a pressing concern in government.
"They use it everyday at colleges," Benner said of the next generation of IT workers. "That's their way of communicating. If we don't offer those technologies, they will see us as being in the dark ages."Frankly, the show-me attitude is welcome because far too often (muni Wi-Fi) technology adoption is happening around blue-sky happy talk instead of what residents will actually use. At the same time, as David Stephenson has often argued, disaster information services are a key area where government could build the an infrastructure of Twitter, cell texting, blogs, Google Maps and wikis to serve as a riverbed of information flows. That happens today but in unpredictable places, which is absurd. Government information portals are predictable for having out-of-date information which generally tells you to call a phone number.