At yesterday’s inaugural Lichfield Social Media Café the conversation turned to local government e-petitions. Will Perrin pointed out that local gov have issues using an open-source system like the Number 10 petitions system because of restrictive IT contracts.
The U.S. is again making progress in this area, by launching Apps.gov (hat-tip to Dave Briggs) which is making cloud-computing and social media services available to all federal agencies.
Potentially, this could have a knock on impact on a couple of fronts. Hopefully, this will help prove the case for cloud-computing and social media to the commercial sector and increase up take of this next generation of IT.
I’d also like to see this replicated over here in the UK, encouraging local authorities to shake off the shackles of oppression forced on them by their IT consultants and outsourcers.
When we spoke about the e-petitions system Nicky Getgood mentioned The Rainbow in Digbeth which, faced with a noise abatement order, managed to get over 2,500 people to join a Facebook group in support. The local authority wouldn’t accept this as a form of petition, which I can understand as it’s hard to verify. However, I suggested that it needs to be as easy if not easier for people to sign a recognised petition as it is to join a Facebook group.
So with the US government pushing tools like Facebook to federal agencies is there now a case for government at all levels to build things like Facebook and Twitter apps that allow people to engage on their platform of choice?
Thanks to Pez I get a DM reminding me to put my bin out. How about a Facebook app that does the same thing for those not on Twitter? Or a Facebook app that shows me planning applications in my area as part of my news feed?
There are more possibilities that will come to me after another cuppa but that’s a start.
David Stuart suggested at LSMC that we shouldn’t make it easier for people to do things like sign petitions. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from Daily Mail polls?
So is giving local authorities that freedom really a good thing? And while we’re all going on about digital engagement, is this level of digital engagement a good idea, or giving a voice to those ‘busy-bodies’, or another why for government to provide a good service to citizens?