Friday, March 27, 2015


Technology, especially social media and wikis have changed the world dramatically, making the world flat, both smaller and bigger and more open. Trends such as globalization, economic change, and external dependence have created new realities for workplace”[1](*). How can Government harmonize those trends into their daily operation?
According to Todd Lyons, the Chief Information Officer Branch of Canadian Government, being influenced by these common senses about contemporary world, Canadian Government initiated to create the GC2.0 tools, called GCPedia, GCConnex and GCForums (referred as GC2.0 tools), specializing on online collaboration between all federal organizations.
Functionalities of GCPedia, GCconnex and GCForums
GCPedia is “the wiki-based collaborative workspace and knowledge-sharing platform”. It can be used for consultation, in which users invite other employees to share their thoughts about a specific policy or professional topic; for interdepartmental coordination; for event planning and organizing; and for practices for knowledge transferring, in which users can find whether there are similar projects or share resources before leaving (*). Similarly, GCConnex is “the professional networking platform for meeting and collaborating”, in which governmental employees can get connected by creating groups and inviting members into discussions for better sharing and team interaction (*). Additionally, GCForums is a threaded discussion forum for users can create threads to discuss about “hottest topics with young professionals across the country”[2].
GCPedia, GCconnex and GCForums are governed by both the laws enforced in the province of Ontario, and the laws of Canada; and the guidelines of the tools, which insist of legal and policy environment. Some critical rules include: all content on the GC2.0 Tools is subject to the Government of Canada legal and policy environment; all users of the GC2.0 Tools are to ensure that they conduct themselves in a manner that respects the laws, regulations and policies of the Government of Canada and the rights of other employees[3].
Making use of GC2.0 tools for collaboration promotion
Since its inauguration, GC2.0 tools have been used widely within Canadian Government. More than 60,000 users have registered three tools. By March 19, 2015, more than 55,000 registered users are using GCPedia everyday, sharing more than 26,000 articles with 43.5 million page views and contributing 1.3 million edits. Additionally, the number of GCconnex has grown 222% since the launch of Blueprint 2020 in 2011. More than 56,2000 users are browsing GCconnex to share 34,800 files, create 4,000 groups and 5,500 blogs (*).
To make use of both GCPedia and GCConnex for the purpose of promoting collaboration within the Canadian Government, users could use GCpedia to “create a completely open (within the Government) space to promote an initiative and provide information”, while GCconnex could “house an open or closed group for those interested (or mandated) to work on the initiative in more detail”, including ongoing discussions, bookmarks, chats, etc. GCpedia could have completely open policy consultation and development, while GCconnex could be used to target specific stakeholder groups. GCpedia could be used to plan/organize an event and GCconnex could be used during or after the event to share documents, have discussions, etc.
Some countries have experienced difficulties in engaging public servants in collaboration because public servants are reluctant to share their projects or ideas due to copyright or credit purposes. Even though the Government of Canada did not have the same difficulty, they experienced hard time in facilitating participation and collaboration. At first, most civil servants kept their documents for themselves and just e-mailed them around when requested. However, after and during using GCpedia, they realized that the service allowed federal employees to post, comment and edit articles placed on GCpedia by their peers. By doing so, the federal public servants hope it can make its processes and decision-making much more transparent. Therefore, they can actively participate in posting policies and sharing idea.
Tactics for developing countries
The fact is that using social media and wiki applications in intra-organizational network is limited in many countries, especially developing countries. To setup the same network like GCPedia and GCConnex in our home countries, Todd Lyons suggested the existence of a single, secure network internal to the Government. Other tips are the use of Free/Libre/Open-source software to reduces costs, simplifies technical issues; identify a core group of early adopters to begin populating the system with useful content, provide project guidance, provide group and individual support to users and publicly champion the system's use by others.
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[1] and (*) Information from Todd Lyons’s presentation about Web 2.0 and Collaboration in the Government of Canada, delivered to Maxwell School’s students on March 25, 2015.
[2] GCForums. NCRYPN Quarterly Updates.
[3] GCPedia Terms and Conditions of Use. The Government of Canada, 2015.


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