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Business - Written by on Thursday, January 24, 2008 16:59 - 0 Comments

Manchester – The Greatest Little (Online) City in the U.K.

 

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How Do has posted a note on the city council website for Manchester, England being voted the BT Online Excellence Awards best local government website.

Sponsored by BT, online respondents were asked, “We’re all increasingly using the internet as a way to find out what’s happening and interact with our local councils. Which is the best website to get information about what is happening in your area or about services available from your local authority?” The article goes on to quote Matt Walton, head of online channel development at BT, on the criteria behind the selections. He said, “[W]e weren’t interested in the technical aspects of the sites – just why users like them. As we suspected, the range of products or information available was the most important factor, followed by how easy it was to use.”

 

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The council’s website does a number of things well. It makes use of a bevy of features that make government more accessible to citizens. It contains a consolidation of all of its local government services in one area, a Google mashup of important city locations, an RSS feed, blogs and social bookmarking capabilities. This is a great start. The real challenge now, is to begin to open up the content on the website and allow users to begin to define their own relationship with their government.

The council has taken steps towards government 2.0 but still has a way to go before it gets there. This brings me to my point: implementing Web 2.o within government is tough. There are barriers that simply don’t exist for companies trying to implement the same ideas. There is a political component to these projects that makes it difficult to initiate and sustain these projects. While I’m always slightly pessimistic about the eagerness of governments to adopt real change, I’m a huge fan of those who take the plunge and try. Here’s my question – often we say that the citizenry are a major driver of government developing web 2.o capabilities but aren’t they one of the biggest drawbacks as well? Isn’t the fact governments spend a great deal of their time figuring out how to keep electorate happy a major reason we don’t see nearly the amount of projects that might take a long time to complete, fail or both attempted? Are we willing to wait to get the services we really want?



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