Leveraging Web 2.0 in Government
This study has four important objectives with regard to understanding how to leverage Web 2.0 for government-citizen and government-employee interactions: 1. Understanding social computing as a phenomenon and the implications for harnessing its potential for government use 2. Developing a framework for harnessing the power of Web 2.0 in government and identifying the critical issues in such uses 3. Understanding the perceptions of citizens in interacting with government for service provision and civic engagement in the Web 2.0 environment 4. Identifying the ways in which social computing engagement and effectiveness can be measured in Web 2.0 initiatives
Introduction - With the increased penetration of the Internet and wireless broadband services, and with the increasing technology readiness of citizens, in the past five years the breadth of activities that an average citizen performs online has been steadily increasing (see Pew Internet and American Life Project at www. pewinternet.org). The types of activities range from sending or reading e-mail (92 percent of Internet users in 2007 engaged in this activity), buying a product (66 percent), downloading games or videos (42 percent), to categorizing or tagging online content (28 percent) and blogging (22 percent). The United States and other developed countries have seen a full integration of technology into citizens’ lives—an integration that goes beyond the Internet, through wireless and mobile connectivity to virtual realms and virtual worlds. Over the past five years alone, the percentage of U.S. citizens involved in social networking and virtual community activities (broadly defined as networking in sites such as MySpace, Friendster, LinkedIn, and other special interest sites; reading/creating blogs; instant messaging; and using Web 2.0 applications) has doubled to over 30 percent in the general population (NTRS 2008). For those in their teens and 20s, this percentage is much higher (64 percent of the online teens create content online in such sites), indicating an ever-increasing trend in the use of the online environment for social networking, exchanging information, creating and building up content, and conducting transactions. Given these trends, it is expected that tomorrow’s adult citizens are going to spend a significant amount of time online for social, commercial, and business activities, displacing many of the activities and the time that is now spent offline. This has tremendous implications for both businesses and governments as they seek out useful interactions with their customers and citizens. Cognizant of these trends, businesses and governments are already taking a very close look at Web 2.0 and online communities in order to leverage them for designing and marketing products and services and for providing customer and citizen service. This is reflected in the astronomical sums paid for, or contemplated for, social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook, highlighting their valuecreation potential for both businesses and customers. A recent McKinsey global survey of business executives (McKinsey 2007) found that more than 75 percent of the executives plan to maintain or increase their investments in Web 2.0 technologies including peer-to-peer networking, social networking, and web services. Many businesses are also using these technologies to communicate externally with customers and business partners, as well as internally to increase collaborative efforts among employees. Similar efforts are already ongoing in many government organizations, highlighting the fact that governments are not far behind in understanding the importance of technology and citizen usage trends. The Web 2.0 initiatives—podcasts and virtual worlds—of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), NASA’s internal social networks and virtual worlds, and the U.S. intelligence community’s Intellipedia are just a few of the recent efforts launched within the federal government. Many examples have already emerged from the United Kingdom and Japan at other levels of the government. While efforts can be viewed as experimental or leveraging the low-hanging fruit, it is very important to identify and understand the nature of Web 2.0 technologies and their suitability for various enterprise-level applications, the ways in which government can leverage these technologies for strengthening the government-citizen relationship and for intra- and inter-government use, and the perceptions that citizens have regarding the use of these technologies for interacting with governments. Without such an understanding, there is the potential danger of ignoring social trends among citizens and thus rendering governments somewhat irrelevant and reducing civic engagement with such citizen groups. This report aims to fill this gap by researching certain specific issues ...
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