Eric Gordon of Governing’s City Accelerator lays out the challenge and opportunity that technology presents for public engagement:
This gradually building expectation that government should be responsive to residents is connected to much larger social trends: increased distrust in public institutions, a culture of connectivity prompted by the social Web, and increased expectations of social and responsive systems (think of all those apps in your pocket). In short, technology is motivating new expectations in customer service, and government is being called upon to meet those expectations.
Recalling the journey newspapers like the New York Times made into Web-world in the late 1990s, he compares governments’ situation vis-à-vis technology today:
The big problems of e-government or Gov 2.0, despite not being fully realized, are relatively straightforward – take what is done offline and shovel it online so it can reach a baseline of efficiency. There is huge value in this, just as there was value for newspapers in initially moving content online. But the challenge now is getting beyond the shovel, and being able to recognize and confront that underlying mutation. We need to understand anew what people’s expectations are, what networks they exist within, and where and how people are empowered to take action. As the call to “do engagement” grows ever more intense, it is imperative that we not automatically reach for the shovel, but instead reach for the tool that’s right for the job (which may in some cases include a shovel).
Read more at Governing.com, here.
Contributor: Ben Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’16.