“The government is also examining opportunities to streamline its web presence by making it easier for Canadians to find and access government information on the web through a single entry point,” explains the federal budget.
Creating an online service hub that makes it easier and more intuitive for users to determine and access the services that they want is actually a really good idea - one I've discussed before:
- Using mobile device Aps like Guardly as a model to bring services (online and in person) that much closer to end users
- Building on the model of video games to create a "hub world" that adds value and empowers service users to develop skills at the same time as accessing services
That's okay - I'm totally fine with the Prime Minister cribbing my ideas. A bit of recognition, though, would go a long way towards encouraging other engaged citizens to share their innovative ideas for streamlining service or improving productivity or fostering innovation.
But yeah, there's a chance Harper isn't cribbing from me; he could be cribbing from the US. Or Australia.
Either way, it just goes to show that innovation doesn't happen in a vacuum - progressive ideas happen through collaboration and sharing.
Of course, the concerns raised in the article above are valid; the Harper government has a history of shrinking public access to information; they've curtailed the Census, they've denied bureaucrats the right to speak, defunded NGOs they don't like, built up cones of silence around Parliamentary activity and are even stifling their Caucus.
Canadians should be very concerned that Harper and co will continue to starve knowledge in their drive to develop The Master Switch. The trick isn't to get mad and fight against the very idea of improving online service access, though - that would defeat the underlying progressive purpose. Instead, the goal should be to get creative.
People do have trouble accessing public services in their present format. They do spend tons of time online. And they like online stuff that is both informative, fun and rewarding. Better service presentation would reduce duplication, gaps and overlaps (and related costs) and making engagement rewarding will encourage people to be proactive.
How do you get the public engaged in service reform using modern technology and use a bit of charm offensive to build political traction at the same time?
Smart political operatives will be seeking partners to answer those questions and have a plan in place for the next election.