Local Authorities (LAs) have, since April 2009, a statutory duty to involve “representatives of local persons” (RLPs) with the aim “to embed a culture of engagement and empowerment”, as explained in the DCLG publication “Creating Strong, Safe and Prosperous Communities”, published in July 2008. The publication defines “representatives of local persons” as a “mix of “local persons”, i.e. a balanced selection of the individuals, groups, businesses or organisations the authority considers likely to be affected by, or have an interest in the authority function.” Finally, it states that “‘Involvement’ will be the most interactive form of engagement, giving representatives of local persons greater influence over decisions or delivery.” Digital inclusion, in a wider sense, is also a key element of the interim Digital Britain report.
NOTE: Some of the links in the older documents here may no longer work.
Sometimes, when contemplating a problem, it can be helpful to turn it around and look at it from the opposite direction. In the UK and Europe, the focus of information governance is on the guarding and protection of data (“stewardship”, as the BCS calls it) so as to limit the sharing of that data. In the US following the events of 9/11, which was widely perceived as a major US intelligence and information sharing failure because of the “need to know” mindset, the entire intelligence community was re-organized and the whole way in which information is to be managed and shared has been revolutionized, with the emphasis on the “responsibility to provide”. Even though the thrust of these actions is within the US Intelligence Community, their work clearly has relevance to wider considerations of government information sharing.
The spate of recent and ongoing high-profile public sector data losses and leakages have elevated the question of Information Management, in its widest sense, to high visibility and high priority. With public sector databases proliferating and data sharing and matching increasing exponentially, all in the name of efficiency and security, the risks also proliferate. With the prospect of the National Identity Register the risk of fundamental identity compromise as a result of information leakage or theft cannot and must not be ignored.
Is the hugely popular Social networking phenomenon just another fad, soon to be replaced by the next mass phenomenon, or can it be harnessed to improve society, promote citizen engagement and strengthen "Social Capital"?
In November 2006, I was invited to submit evidence to the House of Commons Administration Commmittee enquiry into the provision of services for Members. I advocated a shift away from the conventional 'corporate' type of system, which typically seeks to enforce commonality on users, in favour of a more flexible Web-based desktop approach, requiring only compatibility, which would give Members the ability to access their information 'any time, any place, anywhere' as that old Martini advert used to say.
Once, the Information Society was the fashionable topic. Now, every computer and business magazine is filled with articles on E-commerce, with dire warnings of commercial ruin for those who do not heed the message and follow the new electronic way.
In fact, E-commerce is only the precursor of the much wider and more far-reaching revolution of the knowledge era, for which most businesses are completely unprepared. The convergence of vast information resources, pervasive networking and graphical user tools brought about by the Internet is set to create a self-accelerating transition to a completely new form of commerce, the knowledge-based economy, with big winners, big losers and effects that will reach out from the business world into our ordinary lives. The consequences for businesses will go far beyond the currently fashionable Business Process Re-engineering (BPR); the consequences for society are only just beginning to be understood.
E-government is primarily about people, not about technology. ICT provides the tools, but it is the people that make them work. The right tools must, of course, be provided but to fully realise the benefits of ICT for e-government, we must return to the human dimension and focus as much on people and their behaviour as we do on technology. Human-centred computing is essential.
First, some of the new system design and implementation fundamentals will be considered and then some of the new thinking on e-government, especially that arising from the recent Third Global Forum in Naples.
As the emphasis in information interchange shifts from hardware and software commonality to one of information domains and boundary transformations of compatible content between them, new ways of thinking about the design and implementations of information systems are needed. They are very different to the centrist approaches of the past and demand new skills. The new “technology-free” technology of XML, a more flexible extension of existing Web content, lies at the heart of these new developments.