Gov 2.0 in 2088: Mosman Councilís innovative approach to open government using social media

Article image - Gov 2.0 in 2088: Mosman Councilís innovative approach to open government using social media Liam Wyatt of Wikipedia Australia talks at ĎSocial Media Mob Mosmaní??meet-up at Mosman Library

By embracing Gov 2.0, Mosman Council on the northern shores of Sydney Harbour has established itself as an industry leader in the use and promotion of online technologies.

Mosman Council interprets Gov 2.0 as ‘the use of ICTs (information and communication technologies), and in particular the internet, as a tool to achieve better government’.

Council is using the technology to further involve its community by providing residents with greater opportunities to contribute to and influence outcomes that directly affect their lives.

Council’s Manager Library Resources, Jill Cuthbert, said this approach extends the boundaries of community engagement, allowing residents to participate at a time and in a form that is convenient for them.

“Adopted in 2009, Council’s Community Engagement Strategy recommends the use of sharing technologies and participation in social networks,” she said.

“It provides the framework for communication and participation across all media, acknowledging the rise of digital information and communication technologies that make possible a new environment for community engagement.”

The strategy recently won the Government 2.0 Taskforce’s Gov 2.0 Innovators award in the small agency category.

Comprising policy and technical experts and entrepreneurs from government, business, academia, and cultural institutions, the taskforce advises and assists the Government in the potential uses of public sector information and online engagement.

Mosman Council began participating in social networks and using ‘two way’ publishing tools, like blogs and Flickr, in early 2005 to pilot new approaches to marketing and information sharing.

The success of these channels led to further implementations, as well as greater use by Council of ‘sharing’ or ‘web 2.0’ technologies.

Visits to Council’s website have increased 22 per cent over the last year, with a significant proportion coming from social media.

Council is now achieving significant interactions on external networks. For example, from 16 August to 15 September 2010, it experienced 13,741 Flickr photo views, more than 700 clicks and 30 retweets of Council information on Twitter, and 5,000 plus visits to its own community sites, such as Mosman Memories of Your Street and Mosman Readers.

By facilitating staff use of web technologies, Mosman Council has increased interactivity with its residents online.

Examples of Council’s use of social media include:

  • Flickr – used extensively to publish photos of Council activities and projects, with a Creative Commons license for reuse. Staff are encouraged to share photos illustrating the diversity of Council’s work.
  • Twitter – used to keep the community informed and to alert them of activities that directly affect them. Council also responds to questions on Twitter and the service is invaluable as a‘listening tool’.
  • The Urban Planning team use social media tools extensively in their projects, including a recent review of its Local Environment Plan, and the Mosman Design Awards. Art Gallery staff also write a blog, the Youth and Promotions Librarian writes a Teens blog, and Mosman Library has created a social network – Mosman Readers – to meet Library readers’ advisory objectives
  • Video presentations, such as Mosman Library’s vox pop videos to stimulate discussion on ‘the library of the future’. 
  • Online consultations including a review of MOSPLAN (Council’s Community Strategic Plan) and the creation of the Community Engagement Strategy.
    • Open licensing of Development Application data facilitated by a third party email alert service (PlanningAlerts.org.au) and an iPhone app that benefits constituents.
  • Mosman Library hosts Social Media Mob Mosman, an informal group that brings together local organisations and ‘social media champions’ to share ideas and expertise.
  • A web monitoring strategy that allows Council to pick up articles in news media as well as hear what is being said on blogs, forums and social networks like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. These comments and informal feedback are passed on to relevant officers and teams.

Jill Cuthbert said Council’s web team is based at Mosman Library as Council recognises that the library is the information hub of the community.

“Libraries, as public institutions, have always given high priority to equitable and comprehensive access to information,” she said.

She said that Mosman Council’s success in the use of social media to interact with its community is largely due to the vision and expertise of its Internet Coordinator Bernard de Broglio.

“Bernard is widely recognised as an expert in this field and has been invited to speak at state, national and international conferences and government industry forums,” Jill Cuthbert said.

“He recently presented a case study at the Inaugural General Assembly of the World e-Governments Organisation of Cities and Local Governments (WeGO) held in Seoul, Korea in September 2010.”

For further information contact Jill Cuthbert on (02) 9978 4014.