In April 2016, engage2’s Executive Director, Amelia Loye, participated in a panel discussion about the ‘Digital citizens and the Future of Government’ with Penny Webb-Smart (formerly head of Service Reform in NSW Government) and Dominic Campbell (Executive Director of FutureGov). The event was organised by Kate Carruthers and Selena Griffith who founded the Social Innovation Centre in UNSW’s School of Computer Science and Engineering.
Kate and Selena facilitated an excellent discussion about how communities and government are using technology to engage, how governments are reforming their services to improve engagement and some of the ways data is being used to support engagement and decision making. We have summarised a few of the key points made by Amelia during the discussion and you can watch the video recording here.
‘Digital citizens and the Future of Government’, and panels like it, are great opportunities for the government, the private sector and the community to share their valuable knowledge. I see the future of government as being shaped by such innovative thinkers as panellist Dominic Campbell and Penny Webb-Smart. They are key drivers of change in this space.
Amelia explained how community engagement can encourage active citizenship and how public data inform decision-making.
Citizens are already participating in their communities, and having conversations about challenges they face. Citizens are organising themselves, to discuss the issues that matter to them.
Amelia described some of the role of social networks in our communities and how they are being used online and offline to encourage people to share and comment on each other opinions and ideas openly.
Technology for engagement
Technology is creating more channels for engagement, between government and citizens; and among communities but not everyone can participate. Amelia shared two examples of governments in Australia looking at this challenge and how they can support their communities to encourage social, economic and democratic participation by building digital capabilities and confidence.
Governments are looking at ways they might support education for both citizens and government is integral to making best use of these emerging channels.
Communities need – and want – both digital and non-digital communication platforms, particularly in regions where there is low or no internet coverage.
Data and decision making
The release and re-use of public data and open data is increasingly recognised as a key tool for improved service delivery and policy-making. Amelia and the other panellists outlined how ‘data’ could be better used, organised and shared. Data analytics goes hand-in-hand with ‘data’ to power-up cross-government to identify problems and solutions, leading to better decisions. How can we benefit from this wealth of data, and how can we help drive this?
With such a wealth of data available, the challenge is to pin-point the data that is most useful for designing solutions. Through social media, we can listen to citizen’s concerns and collect public data, but it is analysis that generate insights from this data that is most valuable for government if they are to harness the community’s knowledge and experience.
You can watch the video recording here.