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Government technology trends

Some people are adamant that there is no such thing as magic. But, we assure you—there is. It’s called technology. Technology makes our lives easier, our day-to-day tasks more efficient and our ability to serve others more effective. Here are a few of the latest government technology trends—and ideas to incorporate them today!Cloud computing
In 2009, the City of Los Angeles became the first government entity to convert its entire internal e-mail system to Google Gmail. Why? It was identified as a safe, secure and affordable solution to replacing the city’s outdated and cumbersome e-mail system. Here in Canada, the Privacy Commissioner is still reviewing privacy concerns about cloud computing, but it’s still useful to look at successful case studies from our Southern neighbour so you can be up-to-speed if it becomes a common practice up here.In L.A., the switch also enabled agency-wide access to Google apps, like internal document sharing, calendaring and more, that increase employee efficiency and streamline processes among all departments.

Gmail is just one of Google’s many products that is based on the technology trend known as “cloud computing”  and effectively eliminates the need for the city to store programs or information on individual in-house computers or on expensive servers.

“Government agencies at all levels—federal, state and city—are looking to cloud computing as a way to advance innovation while decreasing costs,” Google spokeswoman Aviva Gilbert said in an interview with the L.A. Times.

If your agency is allowed to use cloud computing, you can work with your organization’s IT department to assess what cloud computing applications could serve as resources or solutions to your organization’s current efforts. Examine e-mail systems, servers and databases or consider moving to on-demand software services, or try using wikis or shared documents as a means of storing and editing draft publications.

If it’s determined that cloud computing makes sense strategically, be sure to communicate to all staff what this means and how it affects their work and or communications. Build awareness with a fun-themed giveaway like a Sky-Blue Mug or these Sky-Blue Bic® sticky notes.

Open government
Local and federal government agencies are continuing to strive for transparency in operations and communications as one way to break down the barriers between citizens and government—enabling trust and promoting participation and collaboration.

While citizens can submit requests for government documents through Canada’s Access to Information Act, you may want to make your agency even more transparent. If it complies with privacy regulations, consider posting government documents and resources online, much like U.S.’s federally operated website www.data.gov.

As public desire for transparency grows, agencies will likely find themselves developing more data for public consumption and finding ways to make this data accessible online.

Developing a public awareness campaign around efforts to become more transparent can serve as a springboard to launching trust and promoting the work of your organization. Hand out items that resonate with the concept of transparency, like Transparent Sport Bottles or Magnifying Glass.

Online trends for citizen engagement
In the last few years, many local government agencies have started to develop a presence on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube or other social media channels and this continues to be an increasingly popular means of interacting with citizens and constituents. Some government organizations are taking this type of an engagement to the next level by merging it with open government concepts and existing websites.

For example, the City of Winnipeg recently created www.SpeakUpWinnipeg.com, a city website that serves to recruit new ideas and innovations from constituents. Users can comment on posts by city staffers, and the city is taking feedback from the dialogues with citizens into consideration while developing the vision for its new 25-year plan.

Consider following Winnipeg’s lead and create an online outlet for innovation and idea generation as a means to engage citizens and offer a sense of involvement in local government initiatives and efforts. Test the waters for interest by using your organization’s existing Facebook, Twitter page or blog. Hold an online “Next Big Idea” event for your community, offering a free give-away to all entrants, like a T-Shirt emblazoned with your agency’s logo and the name of the event. Then, ask other followers or fans to vote on the best idea and reward that entrant with a larger giveaway, like a Coffee Gift Set.

These technology trends are likely here to stay as the ways in which we communicate forever change and how constituents interact with government entities do, too. Consider these trends to improve processes and engage!

Canada. Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Reaching for the Cloud(s): Privacy Issues Related to Cloud Computing. Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Web. 28 Apr. 2010.

“L.A. Weighs Plan to Replace Computer Software with Google Service – Los Angeles Times.” Featured Articles From The Los Angeles Times. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.

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