Quote of the week
“…the Department has invested heavily in the use of social media tools…”
— U.S. State Department
The U.S. State Department, of all departments, has an Open Government Plan. The report notes, and it is no secret, that the State Department has been at the forefront of using new technology to “increase transparency and provide information to the public.” Its e-diplomacy initiative has been in effect for some time.
The department has “flagship initiatives,” including the virtual student foreign service, that you can check out at www.state.gov/vsfs. Under this project, interns from universities are partnered virtually with State Department diplomatic missions and other organizations such as USAID. As e-interns, they have responsibilities that can include research, working on web pages, analyzing media, etc.
Another major initiative is www.humanrights.gov that is “devoted to exchanging information to promote human rights around the world.” This site is fairly PR-ish, for sure.
State also has a Bureau of Consular Affairs that offers detailed travel information on www.travel.state.gov. It recently got the highest ranking in online transparency in a quantitative assessment of online open government initiatives.
Canada has had some interesting successes also. After the Boston bombing, 18 tweets like this one went out: —@TravelGoC: Canadians in #Boston needing emgcy assistance can reach the Consulate General at (617) 247-5100.
These 18 tweets sent out by the English and French Twitter channels resulted in a total of 2,333,984 impressions, 2,379 retweets and 1,216 new followers between the two channels.
All this is proof that technology is driving change in how we do business on the front line as well as in our offices.