Chapter 15 of the US Govt’s National Broadband Plan is very well worth a read.
There’s plenty in it, it gets specific about what needs to be done to grab some civic engagement benefits from the web and it says some blindingly obvious but important things. It’s main proposals are:
Create an open and transparent government
- The primary legal documents of the federal government should be free and accessible to the public on digital platforms.
- Government should make its processes more transparentand conducive to participation by the American people.
- All data and information that the government treats as public should be available and easy to locate online in a machine-readable and otherwise accessible format in a timely manner. For data that are actionable or time-sensitive innature, the Executive Branch should provide individuals a single Web interface to manage e-mail alerts and other electronic communications from the federal government.
- All responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by Executive Branch and independent agencies
should be made available online at www.[agency].gov/foia.
The Executive Branch should revise its Data Quality Act guidance to encourage agencies to apply the Act more consistently and facilitate the re-publishing of government data.
Build a robust digital media ecosystem
- Congress should consider increasing funding to public media for broadband-based distribution and content.
- Congress should consider amending the Copyright Act to provide for copyright exemptions to public broadcasting organizations for online broadcast and distribution of public media.
- The federal government should create and fund Video.gov to publish its digital video archival material and facilitate the creation of a federated national digital archive to house public interest digital content.
Congress should consider amending the Copyright Act to enable public and broadcast media to more easily contribute their archival content to the digital national archive and grant reasonable non-commercial downstream usage rights for this content to the American people.
Expand civic engagement through social media
- The Federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council should accelerate the adoption of social media technologies that government can use to interact with the American people.
Increase innovation within government
- The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) should create an Open Platforms Initiative that uses digital platforms to engage and draw on the expertise of citizens and the private sector.
- The Executive Branch and independent agencies should expand opportunities for Americans with expertise in technological innovation to serve in the federal government. Modernize democratic processes
- Federal, state and local stakeholders should work together to modernize the elections process by addressing issues such as electronic voter registration, voting records portability, common standards to facilitate data exchanges across state borders and automatic updates of voter files with the most current address information.
- The Department of Defense (DoD) should develop a secure Internet-based pilot project that enables members of the military serving overseas to vote online.
Good stuff – mostly.
Since it was published earlier this week it’s received a range of responses. Creative Commons wants other parts of the plan to go a bit further on opening up copyright use for ediucation
The FCC has recognized that robust broadband infrastructure is crucial for citizens to participate effectively in the 21st century digital environment. Open licensing is a piece of this critical infrastructure.
The plan is also being preceded by Google’s competition to offer a 1gb cable into a us community that makes the best case for it – the Boradband Plan says every US community should have one – for the benefit of public services.
The Knight News Foundation rightly highlights other parts of the plan which focus on digital literacy, although I sometimes think this gets mixed up with basic computer skills – yes being able to use a mouse and search the web are important skills – but digital literacy is much more about whether you have an appreciation of how you can use those techniques to change the thinsg you do and your place in the conversation. Meanwhile their Digital Media Centre chews over the implications of Chapter 15 for Journalists from making more data/draft legislation available.
Journalists and others who are accustomed to following and explaining legislation might find business opportunities to layer context on proposed legislation—making it easier to understand what’s going on, what happens next, optimum timing for comments, and also getting citizens’ questions answered (since often people have questions before they can formulate comments). This is an example of applying journalism skills as a direct service, rather than simply as a means to create content that’s supported by ads or subscriptions.
Bill Schrier – the Chief Information Officer for city hall in Seattle is very keen on the plan, including elements in it which will make it easier for local government to provide the ambitious (but essential) 100 mgbits of acess to home in America.