Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Three Forces of Positive, Leaky Government

At @Gov20LA this weekend, Wayne Burke (@WMBurke) hosted a session on "Technology for Citizen Engagement". After some lively discussion, I noticed what seem to be three distinct forces promoting Leaky Government:
  1. Government Open Source technologies to reach and provide services for citizens, e.g., web services.
  2. Citizens using technology to access government, e.g., web sites and mobile app clearing houses for government records, services, or other contacts.
  3. Corporations creating value using openly published local government data in innovative ways, e.g., pothole data and other concrete (pardon) civic issues.
These three categories are broad and overlapping. However, the discussion did tend to polarize due to the separate categories until we broke into informal groups.

Leaky Government

These three poles of categorization cover the border of access to government by citizen. Government Open Source (#1) aims to mobilize government services from government to citizens. Citizens using technology (#2) aims to mobilize access to government services from the citizen side of the divide. Corporate data services (#3) exist along the border to provide new value from existing open data from government to citizen. All three of these approaches increase the leakiness (in a good way) of government service, access, and value to the citizen. I believe what we are seeing is a progression of Leaky Government: the usual control of government is leaking into the citizens hands. Each of the three categories provides an important role to increase government service, access, and value. And each is governed by a different entity: government, citizens, and (largely) innovative startups (e.g., SeeClickFix.com).

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