The week ahead: Thinking about Government 2.0

150 150 Chris Nelson

The Lede

On a foggy Saturday morning at Pepperdine University, a group of like-minded people gathered for an all-day discussion on the idea of “Government 2.0.” It borrows terminology from “Web 2.0,” which many used initially when the internet began to progress beyond the basic HTML architecture that it was founded on.

Gov20LA,” as the organizers called it for short, “was created to embody the best business, government, technology and people can offer together.” The question was posed: how can government be smarter? At the intersection of government, business and technology in the name of doing things smarter and more efficiently, we heard some inspiring answers to that question.

Gabriela Dow,Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at StartupCircle, spoke about innovation and idea incubation in the context of public/private partnerships. She thinks the best collaborations between government and the private sector are ones that attract growth and generate revenue. She noted that because of the potential for an “egg on the face” if a politician backs a failed attempt at innovation, the private sector is necessary to bear some of the burden in the public eye. She talked of Abu Dhabi taking the entire process for getting building contracts and permits online and paperless within 6 months as a success story between a willing government and a savy private company.

(In what was a first for at least everyone in the room, Ms. Dow also gave her entire presentation via Pinterest.)

In the realm of transportation and law enforcement, Andrew Nebus believes that “most government agency use of social media is about broadcasting information more than listening.” He envisions an even bigger role for social media in information dissemination (getting a local Amber Alert alongside a Foursquare check-in?). He also laments that it is easier for friends to share a video on Facebook or a photo on Instagram with thousands of people than it is for a police dispatch to yank  a crime scene video from a security camera and transmit it to an officer in the field arresting a potential suspect in the same crime.

We heard Jeanne Holm, Chief Knowledge Architect for NASA and head of the project, talk about the numerous innovations in open data and “eGovernment” being spearheaded at One example that resonated with everyone was Asthmapolis. Using GPS-enabled enhalers, they were able to drop a waypoint on a map every time one was used and very quickly identify hotspots around the city where inhalers were needed most. People with asthma could then avoid the areas and local governments would know where to target when studying the root cause.

These are just highlights. All told, there were nine speakers touching on nine topics. It would have been easy for this to be a pie-in-the-sky oriented gathering, but almost all of the speakers had concrete examples of not just what wasn’t working, but also what was. The true challenge is clearly not a lack of ideas or forward thinking, but finding the time and resources to get rid of legacy notions and systems and staring to implement the strategies for tomorrow, today.

The #gov20LA hastag on Twitter was alive and vibrant throughout the conference and offers a great a blow-by-blow recap of the conference by those who attended and any of the 44,000 unique streamers of the event across the globe.

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Hot off the PR Newswire presses, the California Economic Summit has announced that internationally-renowned author and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has been added as a keynote speaker. From the release:

The Summit is an unprecedented effort to bring together the diverse regions of California to create an action agenda focused on improving business conditions in the state.

“We are holding the Summit to improve job creation and better position the state to compete in the global economy,” said Lenny Mendonca, Chair of the Summit Steering Committee. “To discuss these issues with Tom Friedman who understands the global economy so well, will set the tone for our work at the Summit and beyond.”

A fifth topic area was also added to the Summit when it became clear via the 14 regional forums that access to capital for starting and sustaining businesses was a huge concern in all areas of California. “Smart Capital” will be discussed in addition to these already estbalished topical umbrellas: how to better prepare the workforce, how to increase infrastructure investment, how to encourage innovation, and how to reduce regulatory uncertainty.

Further details will be released as we get closer to the May 11 statewide summit, to be held in Santa Clara. You can get all the info you need on the summit and how to attend right here.

Quick Hits

The SacBee reports that politicians are following the lead of the deluge of new independent voters who have popped up in the state since the 2008 election. Thirty-six candidates this year are running with no party affiliation…and they are getting traction because of it.

Following-up on the above, Capitol Weekly offers a closer look at the new crop of “decline-to-state” voters in California and concludes that the electorate is increasingly disenchanted with both major parties, who must both now try to woo this new swath of voters. 

The High-Spee Rail saga continues, this time with George Skelton calling for a redo in today’s Los Angeles Times on the vote that brought it all about in the first place.

In a refreshing twist, the San Francisco Chroncile reports that the private sector is partnering with state officials to form Create CA, with the explicit purpose of fostering creativity in public schools by retaining arts and music programs in spite of budget cuts.

And in national election news, POLITICO offers a look at Mitt Romney’s track record with Silicon Valley while the Los Angeles Times reports that as economic numbers improve, so do Obama’s -relection chances.


Chris Nelson

All stories by: Chris Nelson