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Canadian Government Seeks Web 2.0 Advantages for Citizen Interaction

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February 28, 2012

Canadian Government Seeks Web 2.0 Advantages for Citizen Interaction

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

It seems even the Canadian government could be doing a better job using Web 2.0 tools.

Minister Tony Clement, the president of Canada's Treasury Board, recently told a North Vancouver business gathering that yes, the Canadian government “recognizes the importance of social media” – whew, that's good to know – “and is taking action to integrate these tools and ideas in its day-to-day operations.”

Clement didn't spell out too many details, but the Open Government initiative, as described by him last November, is part of the Canadian government's effort to include “Internet-based tools that allow users to share information, foster dialogue, and collaborate in the creation of content.”

Along with Open Government is a program named Shared Services Canada, described by Clement as a collection of measures to streamline and identify savings in Information Technology. ”Shared Services Canada will have a mandate to streamline IT, save money, and end waste and duplication,” said Rona Ambrose, minister of Public Works and Government Services last August.

Open Government was launched in March 2011 to improve Canadians' involvement with their government via virtual town halls and other means. It also lists as one of its goals to increase Canadians' free access to raw government data, and ”more connected and collaborating better with citizens than ever before.”

Governments around the world, not only in North America, are becoming more ”aware” of social media, and some are figuring out ways to use it to further their mission. Of course if you're in Iran that means government shutting down social media to stop you from using it to organize demonstrations, but elsewhere government has found constructive uses for social media as a means to serve constituents.

One example was reported last August on TMC (News - Alert), where South Carolina Recreation and Parks Association Executive Director Jim Headley, to use an example showing just how far social media has seeped into government machinery, said “about 70 ?percent” of parks and recreation departments in the state now have Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert) accounts.

“In order to do it properly, it has to be done with customer service in mind,” Headley said, underscoring the main stumbling block in the delivery of government services overall. “You have to have policies. Government entities shouldn't go there if it can't dedicate the resources to do it correctly...If you do it willy-nilly, you can do more harm than good.”

As many in private enterprise found out.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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