In the US, social media innovators are changing the way people work and play. In Iceland, these innovators may offer the best hope of rescuing an entire nation.
Iceland emerged in the 1990s as a financial powerhouse after a thousand years on the sidelines of global history. Icelanders became one of the world’s wealthiest and happiest nations. In 2008, three of its banks collapsed, sending the national economy into a tailspin and shattering the people’s trust in government and industry. The government was quickly replaced by one promising transparency and reforms, while a protest party headed by a comedian took control of the Reykjavik city council.
This new cast of politicians is not alone in their efforts to move Iceland out from under the economic cloud. Members of the country's tech and entrepreneurial sector, which saw explosive growth in the lead-up to the collapse, have emerged as leaders in grassroots efforts to set Iceland on a sustainable path. Last year a loosely-organized group calling themselves the Anthill convened a “national assembly” of 1,500 citizens. The day-long event, based on Agile methods and crowdsourcing theory, resulted in a coherent set of values, vision and ideas.
Now the government is planning a similar meeting in preparation for rewriting the constitution. Inspired by open-source processes and leaning heavily on social media technologies, these citizens are rapidly prototyping new forms of democracy utilizing the web and open innovation.
Entrepreneurs are a powerful economic force. They create jobs, grow businesses, and develop the innovations on which America thrives. In order to enable entrepreneurs to thrive, the Administration is committed to reducing barriers to entrepreneurial success. On January 31, 2011 President Obama announced the launch of the Startup America initiative to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation.
As part of the Administration’s commitment to hear and learn from the public, this Startup America: Reducing Barriers panel asks you to join senior Administration officials and high-growth entrepreneurs to discuss the regulatory reforms, reductions and improvements that could be enacted to help high-growth entrepreneurs grow in our country.
by Julie Blitzer, Michael Uffer and Jerry Jariyasunant
The centerpiece of the urban lifestyle is an extensive, reliable public transportation system. Transit riders are embracing smartphones, 3G, 4G and even tablets. These tools can help us get better information, faster. Learn what changes are giving information in real-time and for trip planning. The New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) created NotifyNYC in 2009 "to enhance NYC's emergency public communications to the public." NotifyNYC allows NYC residents to sign up for transit notifications in a format of their choice, SMS, email, voice recording, Twitter or RSS for any or all boroughs. Numerous third-party applications exist in New York, including Exit Strategy NYC, which tells the user where to wait for the train so as to minimize station exit time upon arrival. San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) website offers developers a huge amount of resources including a comprehensive API with schedules, station information and real-time service updates. The BART site features third-party applications developed using the API for iPhone, Android, Windows, Mac and more. This panel will examine creative new projects that enhance our lives as city residents on the go, including how these websites and applications could reduce costs, bureaucracy and response time in public transit.
Over the past several years, there have been many discussions regarding how interactive technology can drive change in our nation’s politics – but of perhaps greater importance is how technology can improve the daily functioning of our nation’s government.
The discussion should not be a partisan one – this panel will bring together leading innovators from both parties to engage in a post-partisan discussion about how technology can improve the public’s interactions with their government.
This discussion should be about specifics – we can all agree on the broad principles that technology drives change – but we have all heard that conversation before. This panel will focus on the specific progress that has been made, the specific opportunities that exist in the near future, and the specific challenges that need to be addressed.
As citizens increasingly become on-demand consumers in their daily lives, it is clear that government needs to better utilize interactive technology or it will only be more radically disconnected from the public.
This is not a political conference, which is precisely why it should be where this conversation takes place – how can the innovations from the creative, marketing and interactive communities be applied to improving our nation?
Our government needs to modernize. We need to move forward and debate new ideas, focusing on how we can collectively make our government work smarter, faster and better for all citizens.
The Department of State is applying open government principles to move from an information hoarding environment to an information sharing culture. This panel will discuss the behavior change desired and the approach taken, which involves the use of social media, crowdsourcing and reverse mentorship initiatives as a method of culture change. The development of an information sharing culture in the Federal Government cannot be mandated. In an environment where “Need to Know” is the operating mindset, the challenge is changing minds.
Projects discussed include:
•Virtual Student Foreign Service: Allows students to work with foreign embassies to perform micro-tasking type functions.
•Communities@State: an initiative to enable people with common professional needs and interests to form self-managing online communities of practice
•Sounding Board: Crowdsourced method to share ideas with a Bureau or the Secretary
•Virtual Presence Post: Allows State Department engagement with communities where no physical diplomatic facilities exist.
•Civil Society 2.0: Cultivates citizen leaders and NGOs to take ownership of significant world problems.
•Diplopedia: Wiki-based online encyclopedia of foreign affairs information written by State Department employees.
In the US, 75% of students graduate high school. Our national college graduation rate is even lower at approximately 54%. And those students who aspire to go to college are faced with a rising tuition cost, which has increased more than any other major good or service for the last twenty years. Looking ahead to the next 20 years, students will pay $221,722 to drop out of a state school, and close to $450,000 to try their luck at a private school in hopes of getting a higher education. These unfortunate statistics don't even begin to describe the current university system's neglect to harness experiential and digital approaches to open-source educational models.
We are facing an education crisis in the United States. This panel will explore the future of education, examining the roles of design, technology, and human beings in reshaping the way we teach and learn. While the panel is diverse, the speakers all share unconventional views of learning, a passion for design and creativity, and an entrepreneurial commitment to driving change through both action and technology.
by Ian Kelso, Sean Kane and Tony Schum
More than ever, governments across the world, at both national and local levels, are working hard to attract the "creative/digital industries". When you're looking for a job, you may not know how much your city, state or even national government often play a role in what companies are hiring in your community.
While traditional economic development has typically meant a scenario like bringing a factory to a rural area, a newer practice involves growing so-called industries of the mind. Canada has led the way, but now many states across America are offering incentives to game developers and other tech-related companies (to say nothing of the massive internal investments by certain countries, such as Russia). The benefits can be tax breaks, loans, grants, tax credits and even free rent to get you and your brain trust to make the move.
This discussion will look at why these sorts of incentives are thought to bring benefit to not just the companies, but to their communities and taxpayers, too.
It's been a long time coming, but the FCC.gov will relaunch -- redesigned, reimagined, and rebranded -- by the end of 2010.
This panel will feature the team behind the long-overdue project to talk about their experience turning FCC.gov into a 21st Century consumer resource, soup to nuts.
Making .govs the model for innovation isn't easy. That's why we think it's so important that this story be shared -- not just for open government disciples (though we are), or data geeks (ditto), but for everyone who thinks the Web can and should enable government to better serve and connect America.
11th–15th March 2011