Last Friday (September 4th 2009) I attended NSW Sphere hosted by Penny Sharpe MLC, This was about “Government 2.0″.
First and foremost a thank you for Penny, her staff & all the contributors on the day & beforehand.
If you follow the link above to the agenda you will see the main themes of the day. Government services is not, necessarily where you would anticipate innovation and leading edge use of technology. This is just not the case – at least in the situations I saw on the day.
A couple of highlights
- Mylee Joseph – showing how the NSW State Library is assisting librarians across NSW via eLearning
- Lynda Summers & “the Squawk” – assisting rural communities
- And, my favourite -Paul McLeay MP, Member for Heathcote on how he is directly asking his constituency on how he should distribute the NSW stimulus grants for his electorate.
The day was spent around the interface between government and the citizens – about how government could make it’s information available for others to consume, to this point the NSW Premier Mr Nathan Rees announced Apps 4 NSW a competition to create applications that uses the data that the NSW government makes available.
All good stuff, as the presentations are made available from the link at the top of the page I encourage the reader to take a look at them, there will also be a wiki where the draft will be made available.
However I do believe that something was missing.
For the data to be made available it is necessary for all the data to be organised so it can be presented. The day did not address the issue about the internal IT systems within each government department and how once the information is captured how it is used WITHIN the department.
Here is an example – my daughter was fortunate enough to be accepted into a selective high school. I have provided the same information to the department of education 5 times
- When I enrolled my daughter in Primary School
- When I applied to sit for the Selective High School test
- When I enrolled my daughter in Selective High School – the selective schools unit information form
- When I enrolled my daughter in Selective High School – the high school enrollment form
- When I enrolled my daughter in Selective High School – the “backup” card that is used if the computer system is down.
You will note that the last 3 of these I did at the same time – and it was the same information – is this not shared between the high school my daughter attends and the selective high schools unit ?
So, dear reader, my premise is that until the IT systems within Government are in some order so that information is asked for once, and shared as needed we are always going to have a situation where any applications being developed will have to reach and retrieve data from many disparate sources.
Every Government, if they are even semi serious about making their data available to the public via applications that Apps 4 NSW is trying to generate then they will need to look inwards and ensure they have their data organised internally as well. I suspect that to be able to do that there will need to be some significant investment in the internal IT systems.
Unfortunately the “opening” of an IT system is never going to attract much by way of press coverage and therefore is not going to get the attention it deserves.
Government 2.0, to me is about all the IT of a government, not just the IT around the government / citizen interface.
Thanks for reading.