Login.Berlin puts pressure on US to kick off innovative cities program – #gov20 #opengov

login.berlin is set to challenge the London version of the same

login.berlin is set to challenge the London version of the same

The ongoing war (OK, skirmish) between London and Berlin on which city will be the tech hub of Europe has been rekindled due to the Government’s investment in the city as a new digital hub.  It is great to see competitive juices up among Europe’s great cities to help drag them out of economic crisis.  The focus on technology, supported by government spending to attract and develop jobs, is right on.

The US has had great focus on economic development over the past few years and we have seen creative organizations and some incredible success stories (See Michigans efforts and successes with MEDC and their public scorecard so folks can see their success).  But it would be great for cities in the US to kickoff a competition to help drive urban oriented tech investment and startup support.  Sure San Francisco is a mecca, but there are cities across the US who have invested in broadband, in tech ed, in favorable tax treatments and research clusters.

Lets unleash our competitive spirit to beat out Berlin and London.

 

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Social Media as a Protected Right? #gov20

Are Mobile Phones Subject to the Second Amendment Protections #gov20

Are Mobile Phones Subject to the Second Amendment Protections #gov20

David Gewirtz @ ZD writes an interesting column on whether the 2nd Amendment of the US constitution (or equivalent protections globally) would have protected cell phone use if they had been around at the time.  Despite the commenters digging a bit to deep into the constitutional theory, the question is a good one.  Is your mobile a new weapon of choice, a means of defense, against a potentially overly strong centralized government?   Not merely a protected means of communication rights, a la the first amendment, but one that is protected as a means of civil defense.

There is zero question that it has been used in recent times to bring down governments and to protest conditions as well as to organize radical dissent and rebellion.  The picture I have posted above is the nature of the current debate, the protestor in the recent London Riots does not hold a gun or a bat or any other traditional weapon, they hold in their hand a cell phone, with a camera.

Do states, as in the current UK discussion, have the right to turn off our access to mobile technology?  Or to social media?  This is more complex than mere 1st amendment protection of speech as governments now have the ability to eliminate, fairly easily, the *means* of communication.

This brings to mind several other questions.  We had universal obligations put upon telecommunications providers in the US when we built out the network.  Does that obligation now extend to social media networks, mobile operators?  If not, why not?

Thoughts?

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The Why: eParticipation and #opengov Creates Clarity in Representative Democracy

Creating an Efficient and Politically Congruent Government 2.0 Movement

Creating an Efficient and Politically Congruent Government 2.0 Movement

Andrea DiMaio posts a great critique of the Open Government and eParticipation movement in Europe (and presumably worldwide) writing from PEP-NET.  He brings up some points that need resolution, so we can avoid being involved in a self-supporting set of fantasies and rather be involved in a movement with concrete goals.

The issues break down into two main areas:

1)  The potential disenfranchisement of political elites, and

2)  The costs involved.

These are crucial issues.  As we move beyond folks not opposing the strategic use of ICT in Government to create better and more sustainable governance we need to address the realpolitik issues that surround our efforts and these are two very important ones.

The issue of political disenfranchisementis interesting.  I will put a pin in the discussion over direct democracy and whether citizens can be trusted to engage in political discourse on their own for right now and just assume, for the sake of argument, that we are focusing on extending the current representative democracy.  Having worked within one of those democracies for years, I can shed some light on one of the major problems that will be solved through open government and eParticipation efforts worldwide.

Many representative democracies become captured by interest groups who have a significant amount of organizational impact.  Sometimes this power gets exerted in such a way to actually distort the real insight these impact groups have into what the mass of people inside the society actually believe.  If only 2 percent of an MPs district actually favor gun control, but have an organizational impact such that the electoral impact cannot be ignored, the policy affect is a distortion of what would be predicted in the tenets of representative democracy.  Now, if data is widely made available, participation is encouraged and energized, a new possibility comes to the defense of political leaders.  In response to the political demands of these interest groups, they will now have the comfort of real data, real participation and a higher fidelity model of the needs and desires of ALL of their constituents, not just those who belong to powerful organizations.  So, instead of simply bowing to the power of these groups, political leaders could now be free to pursue the issues and positions that drove them to political involvement in the first place.  So, far from disenfranchisement, the eParticipation and Open Government movement could actually encourage the brave political leaders now and in the future to continue to stand on the side of their electorate.

The costs involvedwith transformation are important as well.  But the real question is how effective is our current investment mix.  There is certainly a need for governments to provide services in many cases.  But we are also involved with many things that dont make much sense and would work far better, and at a lower cost structure, if we treated the need for service delivery as a platform engagement.  So if we were to help governments with a framework for analyzing their entire enterprise of investments, and help them to decide when a platform is to be invested in, when a service is to be provided directly but that delivery is to be commoditized and when political input dictates delivery regardless of efficiency, then we would get to a balanced set of investments.  That balanced set of investments would include the ability to handle the increase in demand for services coupled with the decrease in tax bases.  So if we view cost with a total enterprise view, it could actually be reduced in a new world.

Thoughts?

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London: CityCamp London is a Model for Building Community in #gov20 and #opengov

Great Conversation on Gov20 and Business Models Needed for Sustainable Change in London

Great Conversation on Gov20 and Business Models Needed for Sustainable Change in London

I realize I am posting a review of CityCamp London while it is still going on, but it has been going so well, I doubt that day 3 will derail the effort (and I need to get on a plane to Korea soon for the Tourism 2.0 (Login Tourism) event in Buyeo, Korea for a keynote).

The balance needed for a great govcamp is far more art than science, but to see it done so well is rare.  The organizers need to keep a wayward group of activists on task, moving forward, entertained, informed and inspired.  The folks at FutureGov (and Dominic in particular) did this extremely well.

It says something about the movement that folks not only show up on the weekend, but remain energized and active the entire time.  I was involved with a few of the breakouts yesterday that were amazing.  And while the proof will certainly be in the sustainable motion AFTER the event, the event itself has created the platform and generated the connections needed for this all to be successful.  And for that to work, the connections need to be the focus of the events, the organizations, people, moderators need to facilitate but stay out of the way, which is exactly how CityCamp London has happened so far.

And the true diversity of attendees is impressive.  From traditional diversity metrics to diversity of thought, ccLDN has committed to the power of ideas carrying the day and we have all checked our baggage at the door.  I was welcomed as a Microsoft global guy as were folks from IBM, Google, Accenture and many other companies.  Advocates from inside government were numerous coming from some of the most powerful structures within the government including DWP and NHS among many others.

And the fact that they all blended in so well, in a great atmosphere, and focused on great conversations about how to move all of these issues forward was truly impressive.  I have been responsible for GovCamps in cities around the world (Berlin, Mexico City, Bogata, Toronto, Auckland, Sydney) and attended multiple other ones.  I can absolutely say that Dom and his crew have taught us all how to do these the right way.

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Fixing Potholes – Tip O’Neill, Open Data and Single Moms and What it Means to the Future of #Gov20 and #OpenGov

President Ford and Tip O'Neill - Government 2.0, Open Government Data and Fixing Potholes

President Ford and Tip O'Neill - Government 2.0, Open Government Data and Fixing Potholes

“All politics is local” said Tip O’Neill. An early American hero of mine while I was a young politico working in the States in the midwest and then Washington D.C.

And I have lived my life believing that, driving for it when I worked as an LBJ Scholar in Congress, with Congressman Jerry Kleczka representing Milwaukee’s South Side, as a Get Out The Vote specialist on multiple campaigns (School Boards, State Legislatures, Senators, Congressmen, Governors and candidates for President), when I had the honor of working for Governor Jim Doyle and running his ICT Department for years.  And when I led the National Association of State CIO’s (NASCIO) as their President and, as the General Manager for Worldwide Government at Microsoft and most recently as the SVP of Global Public Sector at Salesforce.

Through all of these experiences I try to remember that real people care about things like, well, potholes.  And that while those issues may seem small, they are, in fact enormous.  You see, when potholes exist they affect all that we do in society.  Single moms cant get their kids to school so she can get to work.  Those same potholes stop both local tradesmen and global logistics firms from moving commerce along, affecting local and global commerce.  Our brave first responders can’t respond in a timely manner to citizen emergencies.  Kids can’t safely play a game of stickball in the street safely (I know, they shouldn’t be playing in the street anyways).

But, through my experiences I have found one issue among all of these to be primary.  Potholes erode the faith that citizens place in their government.  They generate a perception that government is not effective at solving problems, cares less than they do about safety or is not focused on those things that matter most to citizens.  That erosion is becoming even more evident as young adults now enter civil society (digital natives) wondering why interactions with government are so hard when their digital world is so darn easy.  But, when Governments focus on getting small things, like potholes, right then we all start to rebuild that faith, our community and the future of civic life.

And that is why I focus on Potholes.

And as an unconventional thinker since birth, please don’t think I feel that there is only one way to fix those pesky things either.  I believe that Government should be more oriented toward being a platform upon which citizens, non-governmental organizations, unions, churches, associations, developers, database admins and single moms can work together to hope to fix.  By Fixing Potholes I mean all of us, which requires Governments to shift their orientation.  From simply providing the workers, trucks, shovels and asphalt to providing data streams and sensors and information on routes and other masses of data directly to those single moms and her brethren.  To rebuild the trust we have eroded by focusing too much on providing services directly (the vending machine model) and instead switching to providing platforms that we can all work on collaboratively.  From the pipes (broadband deployment), to software platforms like the Force.com and driving data to a new open world potentially at database.com.

You see I was raised by one of those single mothers.  And the greatest gift she gave me was her passion for politics.  She had incredible insight into politics from environmental sustainability to workers rights to growing our economy.  But she was a single mom, who worked hard, late into most nights, so her boys could grow up to live a better life.  And because our government drove service delivery exclusively, they did not have platforms available for my mom to pass along her passion.  Her voice remained silent, as she was at work during the only public meeting times left open in our state – from 9AM to 5PM.  Had we embraced always on, 24-hour social computing connected to government, or had multi-day GovCamps that allowed ongoing interactions, or had her young boy had access to the data from the State so he could put his coding skills to good use – who knows how incredible our state could have become.

But the incredible thing is, she can now start to unleash that passion.  The US, the UK and Australia have publicly committed to open data in Government.  There are now myriads of online systems dedicated to crowdsourcing public policy solutions, and yes, potholes are well covered from FixMyStreets to our own solution soon to be released called StreetCare.  The impact can be felt world of education as with the New York City Department of Education deployment of Force.com and beyond.  It is an exciting time to be a part of government transformation.

And a darn good time to fight for us all to start Fixing Potholes.

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Europe: What can we do to harmonize EU rules on cloud?

Government Cloud Ride

Government Cloud Ride

John Miller writes at the Wall Street Journal about the efforts underway to try and find the accurate balance in the cloud and data sovereignty debates throughout Europe.

Many of us are trying to hit that correct balance between valid concerns over citizen privacy and the pressing need to allow governments to take advantage of the benefits of the cloud computing model.  It is by no means a simple equation, as many of the options appear to break the original business models surrounding the cloud.  But many folks are starting to think creatively about solutions.  Our announcement this past month of our Azure Appliance has much promise indeed.

But harmonization and certainty is a longer term solution.  What the nature of that harmonization is has not been brought into focus yet.  It could go in multiple directions. 

What do folks out there think the answer is?

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Challenge: Lead were you Stand (Open Government Challenge)

Evote Conference Challenges Digital Government Leadership throughout EU

Evote Conference Challenges Digital Government Leadership throughout EU

For those who have followed me for awhile, or heaven forbid worked for me in the past, you will know that I believe deeply that leadership does not vest in singular people but rather, in great organizations, permeates the group.  It is not asked of folks to give, it is voluntarily surrendered.  Leadership exists in all of us and requires the simplest change movement in existence, a personal decision to change and lead.  It does not require permission, a budget, a boss you love.  It does not require an org structure, specific strategy or an organization at all.  It requires you, to commit, personally, emotionally, to leading.

Great yet small post at Andrew P Wilson’s Blog, and I couldn’t agree more.  The movement for greater openness with regard to government data, or Government as a Platform, certainly contemplates this.  If we are embracing new ways of governing itself, shouldn’t we embrace a new view of leadership.  That the best singular leaders are those that enable the Government Platform, not that focus nearly exclusively on service delivery itself.  It is the leader that drives forward the leader in us all that means the most to society.

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