The Economist covers off on a great subject – Mining Social Networks. It talks about the utilization inside private companies and the potential and actual use in public sector organizations. I will leave the privacy concerns for a different post here on FixingPotholes, but for now I want to highlight a seemingly small issue that will be ALL the difference if we get it right.
The magazine covers the issue in the public sphere with examples where the public sector itself did the provision of the actual service. I dont want to sugest there is not a role there to play, but it violates an important premise in our argument for utilizing Government as a platform and not a vending machine.
They cover the Recovery, Accountability and Transparency Board (RATB) fraud activity, which was accomplished internally. The Army Criminal Investigations Board and the potentials within Medicare/Medicaid. And the Richmond, Virginia police department. All interesting examples. All, at least as far as we know right now, accomplished internal to government and not by simply making the raw data available to a world of developers and companies interested in creating sustainable change through GaaP.
This difference may seem small, but it is vital. The best, and most sustainable way to utilize this information is by making it open government data. And it adds a new layer of functionality to it by having the processes being used for analysis public. No questions about how these things are accomplished or questions about whether systems are being abused internally as the entire process takes place in the open.
I applaud The Economist for coverage of the issue and now simply ask that folks take a deep look, a pause and then decide upon the best, and most sustainable way forward.