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Digital government: 21st century road-map for success

Shahida Sweeney | Feb. 25, 2015
Top global trends to watch for public sector success.

Trend 4: Levelling the playing field
By contrast, government institutions are slowly becoming more represented and active. The main executive institutions in 26 out of 34 OECD member countries operate a Twitter account.

They maintain a Facebook page in 21 out of 34 countries. Many ministries and specialised agencies operate on social media; as do institutions at regional and local levels of government.

But these global trends mask levels of uncertainty and a lack of creativity on the side of institutions. "Only few governments try to genuinely leverage social media for more advanced purposes like involving citizens in public policy processes or transforming and re-designing public service delivery."

Moreover, social media does not automatically "level the playing field" by way of empowering communities or social groups. "Neither do social media guarantee more attention or participation of younger, disenchanted people."

Trend 5: Opportunities in healthcare
In healthcare, digital channels are a priority for many countries. But even for more advanced countries, only 50 to 60 per cent use the Internet to source healthcare-related information. "This has to do with the importance of interpersonal relationships between practitioners and patients."

Seniors or the over 65 year-olds are, for example, a fast-growing group of Internet and social media users. More than half of them are Internet users in Japan and the United States. At least one in five seniors are social media users in Korea, Iceland, Norway and the United Kingdom.

However, public healthcare providers remain hesitant to use Internet forums or social media applications for the senior demographics. This may stem from privacy, security or the complexity of healthcare networks.

Trend 6: Democracy @ the grassroots
Among the benefits, social media drives innovation for public service delivery and operations. These channels amplify the "democratisation" effects of the Internet on public information or services.

Frontline organisations can deliver on expectations not met by traditional online government services. But institutions need to be aware of the risks, for example, protecting privacy, improving the quality of information or enhancing the public perception.

Governments can "crowd-source" ideas, suggestions or the more critical feedback. Institutions may create or participate on collaborative platforms.

One such example is GitHub, an open source collaboration platform that holds re-usable source codes for the US government or the UK government and many other projects. Governments' category inside this repository has grown rapidly since 2011.

Trend 7: e-Government is old school
Governments are targeting social medial or digital channels for more efficient public service delivery. This builds on the concept of 'e-government.' But social media, as an emerging and dynamic platform, needs to demonstrate tangible benefits for users, society and government. The danger is to confuse e-government with social media or digital services.


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