Notes from the 6th Internet, Law and Politics Conference: Cloud Computing: Law and Politics in the Cloud, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 7th and 8th, 2010. More notes on this event: idp2010.
From Electronic Administration to Cloud Administration
Chairs: Agustí Cerrillo
Open Government in the Basque Government
Nagore de los Ríos, Director of Open Government and Internet Communication, Basque government.
Open data as transparency in the purest state. Examples:
- Elpreciodelagasolina.com, a website that presents in alternative ways, easy to understand, oil prices in Spanish oil stations.
- lospresus.de about public budgets.
Irekia is the open government project of the Basque Government to provide public data in a very accessible way, easy to reuse. Open Cloud Government is more a philosophy than a technology, it is another way to manage public affairs, to decide taking into account the citizens’ opinion. Irekia is not a services website, it is not an e-Administration website. Irekia is a website to listen to the citizen, to offer immediate information in search for debate and reflection.
Data are linked from the original source.
Transparency, participation, collaboration.
What does Irekia offer the citizen:
- Tools for collaborative work.
- Streaming of events.
- Informations in real time.
- Daily agenda
- Audiovisual and multimedia material.
- Tools to comment and share information.
This kind of initiatives are based on leadership and government commitment. Otherwise, they are neither possible nor sustainable. Besides political support and commitment, open government also requires a radical organizational change and, over all, a change in attitudes. It is in the daily tasks that open government succeeds or fails.
What does Irekia offer the members of the public administration:
- On demand audiovisual material.
- Internal agenda per department.
- Possibility to diffuse events.
- Active Internet monitoring (escucha activa, what is being said about you on the Net).
- Consultancy 2.0.
- Comment moderation.
- Complete, tag and disseminate on the Web information published by the departments.
One of the goals of open government is not to have a lot of traffic, or a lot of sympathisers of the website, but to be a hub and distribute interests to their goals. e.g. what open government pretends is not creating online communities of patients, but that they are able to do it by themselves.
One of the problems, notwithstanding, of “all being open” is that anyone can create their own participation platform (government and citizens) and it is becoming increasingly difficult to know who’s “legitimate” to promote a certain activity; it is also becoming increasingly difficult to find out where to participate, or what for; there’s a big replication of projects that reinvent the wheel on and on, etc.
Open Electronic Administration in Catalonia
Miquel Estapé, Assistant Manager of Catalonia’s Open Administration Consortium.
Open Administration Consortium: built upon the principles of collaboration, ICTs and change. Why collaboration?
- Interoperability: not about technology, but about the citizen and the interaction between public administrations.
- Reutilization: Avoid reinventing the wheel.
- Security. Digital identity, electronic signature, long-lasting validation.
Cloud computing is not a new technology, but a new way to provide services. But, in the public service, this means some struggles:
- 82% of cities and towns are below 5,000 inhabitants which means they have no resources for an IT director. Same happens with organizational management.
- Actually, in general city councils have increasing obligations and decreasing revenues/resources.
- The management of (electronic) services is complex: more services, specific regulation, security, 24×7 availability, scalability, etc.
- Reluctance to change.
The Open Administration Consortium works with district and province councils — as they are the more knowledgeable on the reality of city councils — and Localret, a consortium of municipalities to develop ICT strategies. The Open Administration Consortium provides, thus, different services to the different municipalities according to their needs, nature and resources. Among others, main services include public procurement, online invoicing, inter-administrative procedures, citizen documents, etc.
Reluctances are the usual about privacy, data security, liability of data management, fear of change, fear of cyberwar, etc.
I look forward a municipality that will have no physical space, no web servers, no… but a virtual desktop where all data, applications and services will be hosted. This will be especially useful for the secretary of several tiny towns (small towns usually share a single public officer) that will be able to manage three or four of them from just a virtual desktop and teleworking from home.
- “La administración abierta estará en la nube o no estará”, by Karma Peiró.
- “De la administración electrónica a la administración en la nube”. Congreso IDP2010, by Marc Garriga.
- Cyberwar: War in the fifth domain, at The Economist.