Open Government: more than transparency and technology

February 3, 2015

Open Government is a bit of a buzzword right now in government circles and like so many buzzwords it gets interpreted to mean different things to different people.

The media quickly assumes that it means that they can get any information they want regardless of privacy legislation or the cost to the taxpayer.  Improved access to information and transparency will be important co-benefits of Open Government but not its primary point.

Open data activists get enthused about getting their hands on new government data and building the next great app.  No question, technology will drive a lot of Open Government’s success, and innovations and business opportunities will emerge – but the next great app is also not its end.

More effectively engaging individuals, business, civil society and other public sector organizations so they can help government do their job better is getting closer to the heart of Open Government – better, smarter public services.

But crucial to the success of Open Government is changing our relationship with government – and that cuts both ways.  It means turning the vending machine model of government on its head and understanding government as a platform – not a technological platform as many immediately jump to but a platform from which we can solve our own problems as well as help others and our community find the solutions to build a resilient, healthy and sustainable future.

The challenge for Open Government is less about technology and more about people and that means rewriting the role of the urban citizen.