Quote of the week
“Digital governance is the central challenge facing governing institutions and societies in the coming decades.”
Most public sector conversations around the impact of digital refer to big data, open data and the capacity of IT systems to respond to the challenges these bring to the business of government. Add to this the promise of improved service delivery as a result of digital – a conversation that mirrors what we were talking about 10 years ago with e-government – then you have quite a transformation agenda.
And it doesn’t even scratch the surface.
The impact of digital goes far beyond the mechanics of how public servants use or share data, important though they are. It raises key questions about how we manage our key commodity – information – in a world where everyone has it, can access it, and create value from it.
The impact of digital is also cutting to the core of our democratic structures. Our Westminster system has evolved well over the centuries since the Magna Carta in 1215 took power away from King John, but can it deal with the influence of Twitter and other social media?
For example, does it matter that political parties are using data analytics experts to micro-target voters based on their specific issues, and shaping campaigns, strategies and the business of government around their analysis? Does it matter that a minister can Tweet a Cabinet decision before it is formally announced?
At a systems mapping and futures workshop last Friday, a group of academics, students and public servants attempted to work out the scope of the challenge. Participants spoke of what they saw as the key issues surrounding digital and our government systems, and put forward approaches for further research.
Coming out the event will be a conference to be held in Ottawa January 28 and 29, 2015 called “Westminster Meets Digital: Understanding Our Evolving Democracy.” Run by a SSHRC partnership made up of the Institute on Governance, the University of Victoria, Dalhousie University, OCAD and MIGHTY Purpose – and supported by the organizational and media services of the CGE – public servants will not want to miss the event.
Stay tuned …