O’Reilly coined the phrase Web2.0: internet as a platform (O’Reilly , 2010) and has subsequently defined a new approach to the way government uses the internet as Gov. 2.0: Government as a platform. O’Reilly defines Gov. 2.0 as “then, is the use of technology—especially the collaborative technologies at the heart of Web 2.0—to better solve collective problems at a city, state, national, and international level.” Gov. 2.0 is intended to use social media applications that encourage interaction and collaboration to stimulate a more participatory government (O’Rielly, 2010). As stated previously the Localism Bill and the policy of “Big Society” encourage the public to get involved in their local government decision making process. Defra (2011a) states that empowering the local community is an aim of the government to get local people involved in the decision-making process for waste management and in particular the drive to a zero waste economy (Defra, 2011a). Community groups can have an active role in this by using social media to get their opinions across and these opinions may vary from government policy (Hampton and Wellman, 2003: Stern and Dillman, 2006). The government has already started two Gov. 2.0 projects:
- setup up Data.gov.uk (Data.gov.uk, 2011) to share government data with the public. It will be a central data repository for government data.
- DirectGov (Directgov, 2011) is another example where information on al public services will be available via a single website.
DirectGov produced a Strategic review that came up with the following recommendations (DrectGov) 2010) :
- Go digital only: As identified by the Cabinet Office ERG, shifting to digital-only services has huge cost-saving potential. Directgov should be the default platform for information and transactional services, enabling all government transactions to be carried out via digital channels by 2015. Achieving this will require a radical reallocation of effort and resources within Directgov. The organisation must focus its effort on creating high-quality user friendly transactions and guidance. It can only do so by scaling back on non-core activities and being given the power to enforce user-centred quality standards across government.
- Expand the brand: The strength of the Directgov brand offers the potential to realign all Government digital delivery under a single web domain name1. Accelerate the move to shared web services in order to significantly reduce duplication of website and hosting costs. The Cabinet Office, not Directgov, should drive this agenda forward centrally.
- Build the service around peoples’ needs: Learn from what has been proven to work well elsewhere on the web. Focus resources on becoming relentlessly user-driven and transparent, openly measured to drive rapid and visible improvement. Implement a ‘kill or cure’ policy to reduce poorly performing content and remove the long tail of content no-one uses.
- Create a distribution network beyond government: Mandate the creation of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to allow third parties to present content and transactions on behalf of the government. Shift from ‘public services all in one place’ (closed & unfocused) to ‘government services wherever you are’ (open & distributed).
- Be agile: Radically reduce the size of the central organisation. Establish digital SWAT teams combining Directgov, Departmental and external expertise to immediately start work on flagship channel shift transactions. Bring in an external Turnaround Director to plan, run and manage the transition to the new delivery model.
Coventry City council in partnership with IBM launched a project called “CovJam”, a 3 day online collaboration of all local stakeholders including citizens, businesses and public bodies (Smarter Cities, 2010). Stakeholders were invited to offer their opinions on the following topics: urban design, Coventry’s image, fulfilling potential, community cohesion and putting citizens in the driving seat and the council would try and incorporate the information whilst building its 30 year strategy for the city (Smart Cities, 2010). This is a good example of Gov. 2.0 and the benefits it can bring, by using the power of the internet to encourage participation from local citizens in their local decision-making process. Govdelivery is an organisation that works with local and national governments to deliver their online presence via websites and social media. It focuses on delivering the benefits of the Web 2.0 infrastructure and social media to encourage local participation in government through interaction and collaboration (Govdelivery, 2011). Table 1 contains the list of UK government agencies and local councils that take advantage of this. Gov. 2.0 is here today, it is still in minority, and will expand in the future (it is also included in the social media road map); however it is not clear how government will deal with the increase in local community groups using social media to voice their concerns and express their opinions on local issues. One of the barriers to the success of a social media community group is understanding how to be “heard”, Kietzmann et al (2011) calls this the presence in their framework. There are so many websites, social media accounts and blogs that enable people to express their opinion. The area that requires a significant amount of research is who is going to “listen” to this information. O’Reilly states that there issues over Gov. 2.0 regarding the government monitoring social media platforms, however if they do not then how will they learn what the key issues are that community groups are discussing via social media. Even at a local level, would local councils have enough resources to monitor local opinion expressed via social media.
Table 1: Govdelivery clients in the UK (Govdelivery, 2011)
|British Standards Institution (BSI)||Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)|
|Crawley Borough Council||Met Office|
|Dartford Borough Council||National Audit Office|
|Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)||Norfolk County Council|
|Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC)||Norwich City Council|
|Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)||Oxford Law Reports|
|Department of Health||Oxford Reports on International Law|
|Derbyshire County Council||Oxford University Press (OUP)|
|Driving Standards Agency (DSA)||UK Parliament|
|Health & Safety Executive||Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)|
|Herefordshire Council||Sheffield City Council|
|Highways Agency||Suffolk County Council (SCC)|
|HMRC Tariff Online||Suffolk County Council Trading Standards|
|British Standards Institution (BSI)||UK Ministry of Justice|
Department Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) (2011a).Government Review of Waste Policy in England 2011. London: Defra.
DirectGov (2010) DirectGove Startegic Review. London: DirectGov.
Hampton, K. and Wellman, B. (2003) Neighboring in Netville: How the Internet Supports Community and Social Capital in a Wired Suburb. City and Community, 2 (4) 277-311.
Kietzmann, J.N., Hermkens, K.McCarthy, I.P. and Silvestre. B.S. (2011) Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media. Business Horizons 54 (3) 241-251.
O’Reilly, T. (2010) Government as a platform. [online] O’Reilly Media, Inc.
Stern, M and Dillman, D. (2006) Community Participation, Social Ties, and Use of the Internet. City & Community 5 (4), 409-424.