This site was developed to support the Government 2.0 Taskforce, which operated from June to December 2009. The Government responded to the Government 2.0 Taskforce's report on 3 May 2010. As such, comments are now closed but you are encouraged to continue the conversation at agimo.govspace.gov.au.

Data data everywhere but not a scrap of sense

2009 November 16
by Pip Marlow

It was exhilarating to see the enthusiasm around the GovHack event as hordes of developers enjoyed pulling together data sets in new and innovative ways. It is certain that it will provide enthralled users with not only access to, but also insight from, the resulting information combinations.
It was also heartening to see Pamela Fox provide some best proactive tips for developers and data owners in her post stressing the value of structure and standardisation where possible. But I was reminded yesterday in a discussion about social software how much of our total information is now in an unstructured format, where the value lies in the ability to understand the context and meaning of data and its relationship to other information which is not supported in a nice neat way.
This became apparent at the Public Sphere event that Pia Waugh championed earlier this year where everyone struggled to consolidate the extremely valuable – but vast and unmanageable – variety of input in all sorts of different forms. Oral, written, blog posts, tweets, videos,… and many more.
The team did a great job at pulling together a useful summary and set of recommendations but I was left thinking that the increasing torrent of data is leading to diminishing returns as individuals initially try to monitor the real-time fire hose of information and secondly, as they pause to reflect, analyse, and try to derive value from a range of inputs.
So, what am I saying here? Basically that the agenda of Gov 2.0, and of the whole project of providing transparency and openness in government data, cannot be met unless we deal with the challenge of finding the “jewels”, the “gems” in the unstructured data itself. Surely, given that we have a range of companies working with us on the Gov 2.0 project, and we have recognised that utilising the power of semantic technologies is going to play a big part in allowing us to address this issue, would it not be sensible and timely to integrate some of the processes that are already being developed into the way the Gov 2.0 Task Force itself operates – the whole mantra of “eating our own dog food”. A radical thought but perhaps with some merit.

If I could start with a blank piece of paper… (part 2)

2009 November 11

David Eaves is a member of the Taskforce’s International Reference Group. This post continues on from his previous post.

The other week Martin Stewart-Weeks posted this piece on the blog. In it he asked:

“…imagine for a moment it was your job to create the guidelines that will help public servants engage online. Although you have the examples from other organisations, you are given the rare luxury to start with a blank sheet of paper (at least for this exercise). What would you write? What issues would you include? Where would you start? Who would you talk to?”

Last week I responded with this post which explained why my efforts would focus on internal change. This week I want to pick the thread back up and talk about what applications I would start with and why. read more…

Emergency 2.0 Australia

2009 November 11
by Maurits van der Vlugt

Maurits van der Vlugt works for NGIS Australia, who have been commissioned by the Taskforce to undertake a project regarding the use of social media for emergency management.

Emergency 2.0 Australia is a project examining how Social Media can assist in Emergency Management. It is about how Web 2.0 tools and technologies, emerging all around us, can help improving location enabled information sharing between Emergency Management Agencies and the affected community.

For example, how do Twitter, Facebook and Mash-ups help getting flood-warnings, information on evacuation routes etc. out to the community better and quicker? Conversely how do agencies further improve their Common Operating Picture with timely community input on roadblocks, damage reports, or stranded cattle? This story contains a more extensive example. read more…

Do we have a Best Blog Post in our midst?

2009 November 9
by Nicholas Gruen

In 2006 I read a review of Black Inc’s The Best Australian Essays. As an enthusiast for the new medium of blogging, and thinking that the selection of the essays had been somehow unadventurous, I initiated a process whereby a few of us got together, advertised that we’d put together a collection of best blog posts for that year and, as is the way in this new world, within a few weeks Best Blog Posts 06 was done.

As we explained in 2006

The process embodied the strengths of blogging and more generally of the new wave of “user-produced content” on the Internet – the most spectacular examples of which are open source software such as the Linux/GNU operating system and the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.

Where it had taken Black Inc many months to produce its anthology of essays, BB06 was compiled in a little over two weeks. And you won’t have to pay to read them. They’re all already available right now on the Internet – if you know where to find them. And you’ll know where to find each of them as they will be published again in On Line Opinion throughout January.

Of course there were the obvious arguments. We were being elitist, we were being partial, etc etc. The complaints were true of course, the collection came from a particular perspective and was thrown together by a bunch of people many of whom had never met (physically anyway). And all other anthologies suffer from the same problems to a greater or lesser extent.

Anyway, Best Blog Posts is now in its fourth edition! Yes, that’s right folks, in January On Line Opinion will be hosting the forth annual collection of best annual blog posts.*

I mention this because I think we’ve come up with some really good posts here, and I wanted to invite suggestions from you guys as to which posts you think are the best. I already know a thread I’m going to nominate, not really for the post itself (though of course it’s a fine post) but for the really extraordinarily high quality discussion it engendered.

What are the highlights of this blog for you. And since Best Blogs has always had an unfortunate bias towards the political/cultural interests of the old farts on the judging panel who these days are usually only ever seen on Anzac Days down the pub reminiscing about the good old days of the Battle of the Somme, I expect we’d be interested in the best Australian blog posts from the Web 2.0 and Govt 2.0 communities posted anywhere on the net this year and not published in the MSM.

* Declaration of interest, I am the Chairman of National Forum which is the non-profit that runs On Line Opinion.

Whole of Government Information Publication Scheme

2009 November 9
by Eric Wainwright

Eric Wainwright of eKnowledge Structures has been commissioned by the Taskforce to undertake Project 7 regarding a Whole of Government Information Publication Scheme.

Not a topic that has inspired much discussion so far! But here at eKnowledge Structures, Dagmar Parer and I have been wrestling with our brief under Taskforce Project 7.

The proposed new Freedom of Information legislation, together with the Bill establishing the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) are scheduled to come into Parliament by 2009. If the Bills are passed, the Commissioner will have some fairly wide powers relating to Commonwealth information management. The Information Publication Scheme (IPS) will be mandatory for all Commonwealth Departments and agencies. Queensland has been in the forefront with such Schemes, basing its approach on the UK model. It has clearly influenced not only the new Commonwealth legislation but also the Government Information (Public Access) Act in NSW, and the Right to Information Bill in Tasmania. read more…

GovHack: govt data + hackers + caffeine == good times

2009 November 5

John Allsopp from Web Directions was an organiser of GovHack, an event sponsored by the Taskforce. It was held on the 30th and 31st of October 2009 to encourage greater use and availability of government data in support of the MashupAustralia contest.

Govhack

For those who’ve not heard of them, the rather ominously sounding “hack days” are events that have been gaining popularity with developers around the world. They bring together web focussed designers, developers and other experts to build web applications and mashups in a 24 hour period.

As far as I’ve been able to determine, no Government at any level anywhere in the world has been willing to not only open up their data for people to “hack” but actually host a “hack day” to bring people together to do so. read more…

BTalk Australia Interview

2009 November 4
Comments Off
by Nicholas Gruen

Just a quick post: in case anyone’s interested, here’s an interview I did a few days ago with Phil Dobbie from BTalk Australia.  We talked about topics including the benefits of releasing public sector information, government use of Web 2.0, and my own series of  Inquiries 2.0 blog posts (parts one, two and three). You can listen to the interview at the link above, or stream it through the player below: read more…

If I could start with a blank sheet of paper…

2009 November 2

David Eaves is a member of the Taskforce’s International Reference Group.

Recently, Martin Stewart-Weeks posted this piece on the blog:

“…imagine for a moment it was your job to create the guidelines that will help public servants engage online. Although you have the examples from other organisations, you are given the rare luxury to start with a blank sheet of paper (at least for this exercise). What would you write? What issues would you include? Where would you start? Who would you talk to?”

While the Taskforce is looking for suggested guidelines for how employees should interact on the web like those found here (a lot of these are great – I was impressed with DePaul University’s guidelines) I wanted to take a step back. Guidelines are important, but the post implicitly suggests the focus of a government’s web 2.0 strategy should be focused externally. If I had a blank slate I would write guidelines, but my emphasis would be to get public servants to start using Web 2.0 tools internally. This approach has several advantages: read more…

Making Government Data More “Hack”able

2009 October 28

At Google, we think it’s pretty awesome that the government is holding a contest to mash government data. As a company with a lot of APIs, we love when people use them to make mashups, and as a company with a mission of making data universally accessible and useful, we love to see governments opening up their data. So we’ve arranged a couple of events in support of the contest. We held a 3-hour “MashupAustralia HackNight” on October 14th, we’re holding another one tonight, and we’re hosting the OpenAustralia HackFest from Nov 7-8. At our first hack night, we started off with talks on the contest, mashups and APIs, and putting data on maps. Then, since we conveniently had a representative from data.australia.gov.au at the event, we took the opportunity to search through their database and find useful datasets. We found a couple really good ones — the NSW Crime set and the Victoria Internet locations set — but we also found a lot of really hard to use sets. Since part of the goal of this contest is to figure out what characters define a useful dataset, and to encourage governments to adopt those, I thought I’d take this opportunity to give a few basic tips: read more…

Canberra one day, London the next

2009 October 26
tags: ,
by Nicholas Gruen

Yes folks, a few hours after I was seen in Canberra at the CeBit Gov2 Conference last week I was seen in London talking about PSI.

Having cancelled my trip to London to focus on report writing, I made a video with a few hours (and anxious moments) to spare and uploaded 53 Megs of PSI so that it could be downloaded in London, and it apparently got there and was played with nary a technical hitch.

I’m not a big fan of watching videos – because it’s so much quicker to read transcripts. Alas at this stage there is no transcript. So if you want to watch it, you can view it below.

The ideas I developed were: read more…