Asia Pacific turning to e-government

The Obama US presidential campaign represented a turning point in the public perception of the use of digital technology and grass roots campaigning. Within the government sector itself, the social media initiatives used by Team Obama, helped erode much of the inherent reticence towards the move to an 'open government' or Web2.0 based positioning of government information. The role of government during the Web 2.0  phase of evolution is central as it will set the tone for how and why citizens could and would engage, as recent moves by the Australian and Singaporean governments have revealed.

Last week the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Institute of Systems Science (ISS) unveiled a new research project to help Asia Pacific governments, build up their enterprise architecture (EA) to support more advanced e-government initiatives. The 15-month project which is backed by Microsoft  aims to provide an understanding of Government EA through the region and its role and influence in connected or open government platforms.

"The study now extends our work to other governments, with the aim to create a generic approach to Government EA. I believe this will be beneficial to governments intending to embark on their EA journey, but are finding it difficult to get adequate supporting literature and guidance, said Dr Pallab Saha, Evangelist, Enterprise Architecture Practice, and project leader at ISS-NUS.

In Australia, Google is heavily involved in assisting the government implement its digital initiatives. Serial entrepreneur  and head of engineering at Google Australia/NZ, Alan Noble sits on the Gov2.0 taskforce which is leading the push to open up very useful, publicly funded, non-confidential public sector information (PSI) , to the masses. 

"Government can do much more to promote a culture of pro-disclosure and transparency. Making government information more accessible online has the power to make Government more accountable and to increase participation from Australian citizens. This will go a long way in restoring trust in Government," he claims.

The  Gov 2.0 Taskforce  is introducing a raft of initiatives that aim to foster digital innovation with the public sector, from the use of social media, to cloud computing and access to government data sets for development into commercial API's. is one such initiative which has releases datasets from Australian Federal, State and Territory governments released under licenses that permit reuse. This information ranging from transport timetables to location based demographic information allows the public to create iPhone apps or other tools that will re-distribute the information digitally.

It is a lead taken up by the Hong Kong government which has named joined-up government, cloud and social computing, and using IT to tackle climate change as the  big policy drivers for  2010. Hong Kong's Government Chief Information Officer Jeremy Godfrey  said that  that part of  the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer's (OGCIO) 'ambitious agenda' was the development of a government-wide human resource management (HRM) platform, potentially with a 'cloud-like' online component for creating HRM applications.  Mobile government services will also be a focus as will data sharing.

"Historically, government has charge for its data. But should we? No one should have a monopoly on data. We think there will need to be a change in policy because when we should, and when we should not, charge for information is becoming increasingly complicated," he said.

Blog post contributed by Sydney, Australia-based correspondent Natalie Apostolou


Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.