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Government Transparency

What do you all think about open access for Government information???? When I heard this phrase it seems bit strange for me. Isn’t it going to be a risk that government is going to take? Isn’t it mean that public get the access for internal information for confidential data? Will it be a great chance for various terrorists to get information what they want? So many questions are popping in to my mind and I really don’t understand whether it’s a good idea to go with.

I found a case study about this topic on the Centre for Policy Development web site.  It says ‘transparency’ has become a new buzzword in British politics. Prime Minister has appointed Tim Berners-Lee to help open up public access to government data collected by taxpayer-funded agencies. But the doubt here is will the government choose to open up access to all government data, even the negative stuff?

Surprisingly the South Australian state government freely choose to experiment with open access government in 2004. They introduced a strategic plan for South Australia where it had policy objectives and specific targets to be achieved in a range of social, economic and environmental areas. This strategic plan was purposefully set about changing the way of interaction between the politicians and community where it took an important step towards Government 2.0. During this process government published the statistics on areas such as homelessness, business growth, state wide Aboriginal mortality and the health of the River Murray and then called on members in the community to help them deciding where South Australia wanted to be as a state and whet they have to do to get there. At the beginning though some of the government leaders were having a doubt on this data transparency later they thought it has helped in making more evidence-based decisions. They have identified tree main benefits from this strategic plan

  • By actively seeking out the contribution of the public and non-government sector, the South Australian government demonstrated a fundamental respect for knowledge and experience held outside the bureaucracy.
  • South Australia has experienced an attitudinal shift about the benefits of open access government
  • South Australia’s experiment with open access government has begun to create new opportunities for problem solving, both within and outside government.

Though they are experiencing benefits from allowing access to the public for the government information still leaves a doubt to think twice what information should be transparent. They should build proper privacy rules and legal actions on how public can use the information and what level of privilege they get. Because there can be a possibility of misusing those information. What to you guys think?????

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Enterprise 2.0 vs. ROI

ROI is called as Return On Investments where it gives a broad idea of what profits and benifits will be achived in terms of the investment for the project. I personally experienced how difficult it is measuring ROI for the enterprise 2.0 projects.

As mentioned in my previous posts it is one of my projects to create a proposal about library 2.0 for the QUT library and as a part of the proposal it was required to do the ROI. I was thinking about this for so many hours and did so many research as well. But it was totally a mess to come up with ROIs for the library case, it doesn’t mean that the proposal doesn’t give any benefit but it is all about how we can measure it.

Some of the benefits of web 2.0 tools are esier to comunicate, collaborate and find information. In order to come with proper ROI it is required to measure how much of time does employees save with the use of those web 2.0 tools and what is the monitory value in terms of less working hours.

As Jeremy Thomas of Social Glass puts it:

“I suppose Search is the easiest to quantify. The average knowledge worker spends 25% of his day looking for content. So let’s say that company X has 1,000 knowledge workers who make an average of $80,000/year. This means the company ‘wastes’ 20 million/year in funding with the time workers use to find content.”

Another way to measure ROI is to examine if employees can make more money with Web 2.0. Can sales people make more calls because they have more time? Are customers that participate in your company’s social network 50 percent more likely to renew contracts?

But the challange I was experiencing was, we didn’t really have much information about how many hours library staff spend on looking for content or sending emails, their anual pay and such details that are required to analyse the profits. The ROI wholly depends on the statistics and without proper and relevant statistics it is very hard to come up with a realistic measures for ROI.

ROI has also to consentrate on the what is the value of the time it takes IT to setup and maintain a system of blogs, wikis and social networks? How long will it takes employees to learn the new software, and what’s the value of their time? Is there a cost for new software or hardware? But as I guess most web 2.0 tools are available  for free of charge.

Some of the usefull links for measuring ROI and examples are:

The revenue impact of Enterprise 2.0

IBM study

Measuring ROI for Enterprise 2.0 and collaboration

Determining the ROI of Enterprise 2.0

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Meebo the tool for Instant Messaging

I was doing a research to find out what libraries doing out there with web 2.0 tools and technologies. As I have mentioned in the previous post I found a library called Darien library in America which is using a tool called Meebo to allow instant messaging feature in the website. So the members of the library or the visitors to the web site can contact a librarien instatntly to gain any information.

Then after few days when I was improving my blog I found this Meebo tool under the widgets WordPress provides. As you can see I added it to my blog, so if anyone wants to have a chat with me they can do so without even log in to the system. I found it very interesting and I searched what this Meebo is.

I could find Meebo is a web based instant messaging tool and it can be very useful for the organisations as well as individuals. Through Meebo web page you can log on to many instant messaging accounts at one time and Meebo will show all the contacts who are online and offline in a single page. That means Meebo acts as a platform that allows you to log on to many instant messaging accounts in one point. It supports Yahoo messenger, MSN, Google talk, aim, my space, facebook, myyearbook, jabber and icq.

Meebo was formed in 2005 and Meebo’s co-founders are Sandy, Seth and Elaine. More about Meebo history can be found  here and you will find the story is interesting, what makes them to come up with an idea such as Meebo tool.

I realized there are some benefits in using Meebo such as:

  • You can communicate with all friends who have been added to different chat lists in one place – collaborative
  • No need to install a single thing
  • Allows offline messages
  • It can be accessed free of charge
  • Can be added to the personal web site or blog
  • Supports mobile devices
  • It allows audio/video chat
  • Group chat
  • Call conferences
  • Can play games with contacts
  • At last you simply dont have to remember all usernames and passwords for different instant messaging platform ;P

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Government Adoption to Microblogging….

Recently I was doing a research to find out the uses of microblogging in enterprises. But surprisingly when I searched Google, nearly half of the results I got were relating to the government use of microblogging. That’s a good news though….

One of the documents I come across with was a guide to use the Twitter which has been published by the UK government. This has been published by Neil Williams in the UK Cabinet Office blog and Williams says that guide is only the first draft and in the next version he plans to come up with the ways “civil servants should support, encourage and manage Ministers’ use of Twitter for Departmental business.” I could also find an article written on the use of microblogging in one of US government web sites. That article discusses about the advantages of microblogging, how they can implement it, some of the specific requirements and some third party microblogging tools.

As most people know in the United States, Presidential candidate Barack Obama microblogged from the campaign trail using Twitter. Traditional media organizations, including The New York Times and the BBC, have begun to send headlines and links in microblog posts. All these activities tell me that the microblogging is slowly moving to the mainstream.

According to the examples I found Twitter is the most used microblogging tool among government departments and agencies…

For example:

Examples of discussions:

Examples of inbound communications:

  • Jeffrey Levy at EPA asked for help preparing a presentation for several agency–level CIOs about social media, and received many good ideas from people following him.
  • People started talking about a major coal ash spill in December 2008 days before the mainstream media began discussing it.

Examples of outbound communications:

City of Arvada, CO – www.twitter.com/cityofarvada

  • Uses TwitterFeed to push out RSS information to Twitter Account
  • Has a link on web site to Twitter account

Washington State Department of Transportation – www.twitter.com/wsdot

  • Road and Traffic Updates

Franklin, MA Police Department – www.twitter.com/franklinpolice

  • Log postings
  • News and events

City of San Francisco, Calif. – http://sftwitter.sfgov.org/twitter/

Governments have discovered some of the advantages of microblogging are:

  • Quick Communication to Citizens and Staff on timely events
  • Two way casual conversations
  • Quick access to city/county news – automatically push out links to web site headlines
  • Customer Service opportunities
  • Public Safety – Local media tend to find your sites and follow your postings quickly

I think governments have turned a new page in microblogging era where the most powerful governments such as UK and US have already started using tools such as Twitter for various purposes. In near future this will be a global revolution where most governments and organisations will use microblogging for their organisational uses.

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Library 2.0

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) library is one of the libraries in Australia that opens for long hours and serves nearly 40,000 members. The library admin staff has realized the use of web2.0 tools and technologies would help them to maximize their business process convenience and the consistency. They have realised the other libraries such as British Library, QLD library and University of Sydney library have already adopted web2.0 in their business and its outcomes.

Currently QUT library runs a web site that provides services through web to their members. Some of the services are as follows:
• Members can search the catalogue from the library home page. (Quick catalogue search)
• Members can search for articles. (Quick article search)
• Member login and member account to check their account history
• A range of E-books and Databases
• And many other services
Among the above mentioned services the Databases area is the most important area for the library because 70% of usage is on this database searches.

According to QUT library when they are adopting new technologies there are few issues they should consider such as:
• They should adhere to QUT guidelines (Follow a standard web template)
• For some of the services they have to rely on vendors and it limits their services to vendor supplement
• They have to consider about the QUT internet limitations
• And also they have to consider about the IAS (Internet Access Service) limitations for the students

At present QUT library is using some of the web2.0 tools and technologies but they are not well organised and properly managed where most of the students are not aware of those services. They use a Twitter account to update the members of the library, and one of the liaison librarians maintains a blog in wordpress, RSS feed, they also allow the rating facility for the students of the resources and they use libguide technique for some of the areas of the web site. It seems most of the students (library users) are not aware of these tools and technologies they use in the library. The main reason is those tools are not properly collaborated and they don’t sit in one place where the students are not familiar and aware of them. the current tools and technologies the library use are not developed for the company use where using those tools and technologies can rise an issue with the QUT standards and their uniqueness in the industry.

My team is trying to come up with a better solution for QUT library where they can utilise web2.0 tools and technologies to make QUT library2.0. Encourage us with this project by leaving your ideas and comments…..

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