Friday, April 30, 2010

The street as a platform, what's government's role?

An extremely thought-provoking post about The street as platform written by Dan Hill in February 2008 has been brought to my attention by Darren Sharp.

The post explores the virtual life of a city street, all the digital data exchanging hands between systems, infrastructure, vehicles and people in the street unseen to human eyes.

While condensed into a single street, the post is based entirely on current technologies and practices. It could easily represent a real street in any major city anywhere in the world today.

The question for me is what is government's role in building the infrastructure, managing and effectively using the data collected?

Streets are generally infrastructure created and maintained by governments and the systems that 'power' a street are often installed and managed by public concerns (roads and pavements, water, sewage, electricity and telecommunications) or at least guided by government planning processes (the nature of the dwellings and commercial services provided on the street). So there's clearly a significant role for government in the virtual aspects of streets as well.

There has been some work done internationally on what precisely is the role of government (some articles and publications listed at the Victorian Government's eGovernment Resource Centre, but have we done enough here in Australia?

Given we have a national broadband network planned, and are already in the process of preparing for pilot roll outs, ensuring that this enables, rather than limits the vision of our digital streets in a managed and well-thought out manner is clearly moving its way up the priority list.

1 comment:

  1. So; as per my previous link; I'm a big fan of smart public objects; if for nothing more than "report a problem with this thing".

    The benefit for government (at all levels) is their ability to fix public utilities and services rapidly.

    My local council gets it. I had some damaged street lights, and a cracked pavement. One email later, and it's fixed. They heavily push their online services to report problems.
    I was very pleased with the outcomes. It would be even better if they were plugged into Its Buggered Mate or Fix My Street - but baby steps!

    The transport department here in South Australia don't. Every bus stop has a phone number printed on it to report problems - so; when I noticed that the bus-stop was missing its entire timetable; I did report a problem.
    Voicemail was my only option. The problem is still not fixed - and the worst part of it all, the damaged bus stop in question is 800m away from the depot.
    If the systems they used were email based or better; I bet it would have been fixed by now - hitting 'forward' is low effort.

    I really think that as a starting point; "report a problem with a public service" built into a public objects is the easiest to justify, most rewarding for all involved; and quickest to pull off.