Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why Government should engage their community online

Crispin has published a post, Why (Government) Organisations Should be Engaging their Community Online, over at his Online Community Engagement blog providing eleven reasons why government should be engaging its community online.

This is a nice piece and I thought I might add a few more that spring to my mind.

Global reach
There are many Australians overseas at any point in time who cannot easily take part in a locally held event. Online provides a cost-effective way to allow these people to have their say.

Private yet controllable
The internet both allows people to protect their privacy and allows governments, via moderation principles, to manage the tone of a discussion and maintain order. For governments who require a certain level of decorum but equally are required to protect the privacy of citizens, internet engagement tools provide a nice balance, when properly implemented.

Supports diversity
When properly designed and managed, the internet can supports engagement with hundreds of thousands of Australians with physical or mental disabilities who may not be able to hear, see or attend other types of engagements. While we can rely on able-bodied representatives, sometimes government is better served by engaging directly with the people impacted by policies.

Speed to market
Online engagement can be set up extremely quickly, drawing on pre-existing online tools. This makes it a very rapid way to get feedback and start conversations during fast-changing situations.

Early warning and resolution
Online communities can provide early warning of building media events. Often the original issue can be identified and addressed before it becomes a more significant - and often over-exaggerated or misreported - story in the mass media.

Keeping it real
Many government departments operate as faceless bureaucracies, where people often feel alienated, disenfranchised or disengaged due to the lack of a human face. Online engagement allows a government department to provide its customers and clients with a face and demonstrate that staff are human beings who care about their customers and work. This genuineness is critical for building human relationships and provides a basis for productive working arrangements.

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