We can do this in the Philippines: “How a ‘Facebook nation’ might change reporting on government” (via IJNet)

Here’s another great excerpt from IJNet, about how the United States’ new Chief Technology Officer, Steven VanRoekel, wants to create “a Facebook nation.”

Dubbed “Future First,” among its aims are to bring more transparency and interactivity to the federal government, which outstrips any corporate budget with $80 billion in annual IT spending.


“The American people expect us to use technology to provide the same level of service they experience in their everyday lives. They pay bills online and buy plane tickets on smartphones,” he said. “And it’s not just the millennial generation – with 80-year-olds now using Facebook to keep in touch with grandchildren across the country – expectations have reached a critical point even faster than anticipated.”


… His first steps include consolidating government websites – there are currently 1,700 .gov sites while only about 500 are heavily trafficked, he noted – and standardizing and updating systems across the board, with emphasis on moving from data centers to cloud computing.


Making various systems talk to each other is also a priority that would affect how easy it is to obtain information.


VanRoekel said he had just visited a local branch of the U.S. Geological Survey and found some earthquake data still available only on magnetic tape. As an example of how outdated some systems are, he joked about a college COBOL class coming in handy when reviewing data from the Social Security Administration and that the USDA had 21 different email systems, at cost of $24 per person per month just so employees could “talk to each other.” A cloud solution slashed that cost down to just $8.

Now, imagine how outdated OUR own systems and data are in the Philippines–and what something like THIS could do for the country! It’s ironic, though, that for a country who’s on the Top 10 list of countries on Facebook and which has recently been dubbed the “social media capital of the world”, our own government actually dissolved the Commission on Information Communications Technology (CICT) in July. We also have yet to pass our own Freedom of Information Bill.

So I wonder what’s next for digital information in the Philippines, and how creating “Facebook nations” can change governance worldwide. We’ll just have to stay tuned online, I suppose!


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