June 29th, 2009 | Published in Google Public Policy
Maybe it's the clean ocean air, maybe it's the vast mountains, but there's an open government revolution afoot in British Columbia.
In May the City of Vancouver passed a motion to open its data to the public. Inspired by Washington D.C.'s open data project, the city hopes to promote civic engagement, improve decision-making, and deepen accountability.
Social media expert David Eaves has been one of the key proponents and advisers behind Vancouver's open data initiative. I recently saw David speak about his theory of the "long tail of public policy." He believes that while there's lots of expertise within government, there's also untapped expertise outside of government -- from you, me, your family, and your neighbors. This knowledge -- the long tail -- on any given public policy issue is greater than the collective knowledge within government. Policymakers therefore need to learn how to tap this know-how in order to make better decisions. Check out his presentation below:
Not to be outdone, the British Columbia provincial government has an office whose primary mandate is to improve citizen engagement and public deliberation using the collaborative tools on the Web.
While other provincial governments have banned Facebook at work, B.C. has recognized the power of social media. David Hume, Executive Director for Citizen Engagement at the B.C. Ministry of Citizen Services, has a great presentation on the inspiration for B.C.'s work in this area. Check it out: