Quote of the week
“It’s hard to know exactly where we are heading with new technologies.”
— Michelle D’Auray, Secretary of the Treasury Board
At GTEC last week, heads of three federal departments discussed how their organizations are using technology. The use is uneven.
Michael Wernick, deputy head of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, noted that the department faces contradictory forces: a lack of broadband availability in rural, Aboriginal communities versus the fact that a large percentage of the population is under 25, and so – like the rest of that age group – heavy users of social media.
Wernick said the department sees itself as a crossroads for information, typically pushing out information that communities need. He admitted it needs to get better at listening and analyzing. He said the department was caught off guard when a proposed deal between the government and a northern Aboriginal group was torpedoed by social media users.
David Maloney, deputy head of CIDA, described the internal demand for e-collaboration tools by staff around the world that want and need to work together with real-time access. The department now has 60 inside wikis and four internal collaboration sites.
Nada Semaan is associate deputy minister of Canadian Heritage. The department has a large, technically savvy target market and has responded accordingly. For Prince William and Kate’s royal visit it created an app in just ten days that got 23,000 downloads and for a while was the third most popular after Google and Skype. For consultations on proposed changes to the Copyright Act, they received 8,000 submissions from their online consultations and had 35,000 interested visitors.
Absent from the panel was Veterans Affairs Canada, which has been one of the most innovative departments in using social media to promote awareness among young people of Remembrance Day.
The message? The use of social media, while cautious, is being driven by staff and stakeholder capacity and demand.