Friday, April 03, 2009

Is Australian egovernment innovation on life support?

I've been reading a post by James Dellow at his Chieftech blog, Using Twitter as a benchmark for Australian local government use of social media.

He compared the 90 out of 468 (approx. 20%) UK councils using Twitter to the 3 out of 677 (less than 1%) Australian councils using the tool to engage online, asked the question,

If you work in local government in Australia I would love to know more about what’s stopping you from experimenting with social media and social computing.

Of course the UK isn't the only nation making extensive use of Twitter and other online tools to engage citizens. The US is on a similar path, with over 300+ US government agencies and politicans officially using the service.

Governments across Europe and Asia are also adopting this and other online tools in a strategic and integrated way.

If anyone has an answer to James' question, I'd like to read it as well.


  1. I propose three main hypotheses in answer to the question: (1) Australian governments of all persuasions are inherently conservative and tend to follow rather than lead (globally) in terms of innovation in high technology, especially where outcomes are unclear (2) Local councils bear the brunt of increasing centralisation of power in the federal government, reducing their ability to implement new ideas in the face of coping with contemporary local problems - New Media is simply off the political radar at the federal level and this flows down the federal system; and (3) the deployment of broadband infrastructure is so centrally controlled by the federal government and therefore removed from users that there is no active local engagement in its potential usage - there is a close link between local access and local usage - which means that even though people are 'active', they have little ability to influence the centrally-controlled system directly.

    I appreciate these hypothese are somewhat unrefined at the moment but I intend to have a number of research publications out early next year.

  2. be interesting to see if there's a difference between here and the UK with regards to who has day to day responsibility for Councils' web content ... here website coordination is often seen as an administrative role (you put up what we tell you when we tell you) ... and you can't really Twitter by remote control