The Australian health sector needs a whole new approach to information technology, not just open source

OPEN source software offers one cure for clinical system implementation woes, as authorities struggle to find solutions that meet all medical requirements, a leading health informatics researcher says.

Rather than the all-in, big-bang approach of a full CIS (clinical information system) implementation, an open, standards-based approach would allow a more incremental, lower risk approach, with organic expansion based on lessons learnt.

I think the mixing of terminology around open source software and open standards is a little confusing in the piece. However, what is clear is that complex environments, like we find in health care, need new approaches to information technology to avoid the mistakes of the past. This includes open source software, open standards, etc but also new approaches to procurement, support, solution design and project management. Just focusing on open source software itself is missing the bigger picture of the challenge. And what about the hardware too?

Wanted: Model use cases for Government 2.0

With GovHack coming up this weekend, its quite timely that over in Europe here is Lee talking about the value of open data. (BTW Don’t just look at the slides – Lee has provided a set of great notes to go with his slides.)

I’m quite interested in ‘use cases’ for Government 2.0 at the moment and in this presentation Lee talks about three use cases related to participation and open data:

  • Make invisible data visible & leverage open data for improvement;
  • Participation & feedback can drive evolutionary improvement, enable co-design of services; and
  • Treat government budgets as innovation funds & build solutions with people.

I’ve actually been thinking a lot about high level use cases for Government 2.0 more broadly than just those that relate to open data and I’ve playing around with a number of models. Unfortunately, most government participation models I’ve come across are focused on policy consultation, however Government 2.0 participation goes beyond simply providing feedback about policy changes.

Putting aside political uses of social media, some of the different ways of defining the

overall scope of participation in Government I’ve come up with include this breakdown:

  • Policy Consultation (naturally – however, with Government 2.0 we can go beyond just ‘consultation’);
  • Identification of Problems, Opportunities or Possibilities (I like the application of ‘serious games‘ in this area);
  • Service Delivery; and 
  • Campaigns – i.e. communication to the public using social media and social networks

Lee also positions participation and Open Data in the context of the Headshift/Dachis Social Business Design framework and I think that certainly helps to define how social computing-based and design-based approaches, however it doesn’t necessarily define the space (and its not intended to do that).

So, I’m interested know…

  • How would you break down the scope of participation for Government 2.0; and
  • Based on either my own or other frameworks for Government 2.0 participation, what kinds of model use cases would you suggest that could fit into such a framework?
For example, a model use case in my framework might be using social media for communicating public health issues or collaborative scenario planning on the long term impacts of a global issue, such as the ageing population.

Feel free to critique my ideas. I’m very interested to hear what you have to say.

PS. I’ll be a GovHack on Friday, so feel free to come and find me in person as I’d love to chat more about this.

Tweeting at a conference, not rude, just ineffective?

Learn one thing about Twitter: it is a unique medium of 140 character
or less communications. It’s like the haiku of the real-time Web. If
what you have to say is often longer than those 140 characters, maybe
you’re using the wrong medium.

Dig this. When you’re at a large conference with (say) 20 people live
tweeting every interesting sentence from every speaker, are you
thinking about your audience? I seriously hope not, because you’re
often delivering them a bundle of jumbled thoughts. And when you start
retweeting each other, and then people not at the conference start
retweeting *that* everything stops being real-time and becomes
wrong-time. We don’t yet have filters and interfaces that can make
sense of this stuff.

Dig this too. There are alternatives. While celebrations of YouTube
and Twitter happen at dedicated events, you’re overlooking less-used
social technologies with great features, like Viddler and Posterous.
Look at my last few Posterous posts: they were from a conference I
attended. But instead of burying my nose in my BlackBerry for two
days, I listened and took notes, and when I saw something worthy of
250 or so words, I wrote a short post for Posterous and pushed the
info to Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Xanga, Plurk, and more. What’s up.

Experiment with Web 2.0 technologies. Think about your audience. Do
what’s valuable for your community. Engage.

This was worth quoting in full. Mark Drapeau raises some good points. There is no doubt social media is changing how with interact at conferences and other events. But now that we’ve had a bit of time to experiment with Twitter, which was fine, perhaps it is time to step back and look at what actually works best?

This time, from Drupal to SharePoint – Recovery.gov

Originally, Recovery.gov version 1.0… was powered by Drupal, an open source content management platform offering blogs, forums, newsletters and podcasting among its features. But users were not able to follow the recovery funds from beginning to end as the Obama administration had envisioned — and promised. Nor could site administrators use the site to handle the approval process needed to collect, sort and display spending data being collected from recipients of the funds. As a result, the site became a target and verbal punching bag for watchdogs, open government advocates and lawmakers who were underwhelmed with the content and capability of Recovery.gov.

In response, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board charged with tracking stimulus funds made the decision to change not only the site’s look but also its core focus and through the Government Services Administration (GSA) they solicited a contract to redesign the site.

Development time that would have otherwise been spent building a custom 60% solution was freed up by the decision to use SharePoint, and that allowed the team to address other key business problems, such as how to get data from hundreds of disparate sources. And while Microsoft has long been viewed with disdain for their near monopoly on corporate business platforms, this time, it saved taxpayers a good sum of money.

We were just talking about Tim O’Reilly’s comments on the Whitehouse.gov shift to Drupal yesterday, but in this instance the flow has gone completely the other way.