Restoring Trust in Government
A considerable amount of my workday is devoted to studying and strategizing around the Gov 2.0 trends. I have come to recognize that there are two distinct communities that approach the topic from completely different worlds.
The first group is focused on technology aimed at improving the delivery of government services. Its dialog revolves around concepts such as cloud computing, crowd sourcing, social media, open data, next-wave applications, and mashups. The second group acknowledges these technologies but is more interested in reminding government that it is failing its constituents. To this group, Gov 2.0 is more of a movement to change government, much like the Tea Party movement for tax reform. More importantly, this group recognizes that citizens cannot be silent bystanders if they want government that works for them.
In the middle of it all are the common citizens who don’t even know that Gov 2.0 discussions are taking place. Interestingly, this group is significantly larger than the other two groups combined. Citizens simply want government to be there when they need it. Common to the Gov 2.0 discussions is the acknowledgment of the growing distrust of government.
So what is the solution for restoring trust in government and delivering government services when citizens need them? How do we get citizens to take an active role in government? One Gov 2.0 group suggests we should throw out existing systems and start trying new stuff. This group believes it can do a better job than government is doing now.
I personally believe the geographic information systems (GIS) community can step up to this challenge. We’ve already witnessed the power of GIS in the areas of transparency and accountability in restoring trust in government. After all, show people how government is spending tax dollars or determining where to place government services in the context of where they live and work and their children go to school, and the world makes more sense. GIS professionals simply need to streamline operations while developing solutions using authoritative data to serve their citizens directly.