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Implementing an Open, Enterprise Social Media Platform Within Government

David Tallan (Government of Ontario [Canada])
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This talk is the story of how OPSpedia was born within the Government of Ontario. OPSpedia is the internal professional networking site for the Ontario Public Service. The name gives away that we’re directly inspired by Wikipedia and Intellipedia (and GCpedia, and CivilWiki), but we went a different direction than our colleagues in other jurisdictions and instead of providing a variety of web based tools (a wiki, a social network, social bookmarks, etc) we decided to build a website by customizing popular open source tools, offering all those capabilities in a single user interface. This talk isn’t about OPSpedia itself, but rather how we made it happen in the face of stiff, and common, bureaucratic challenges.

So what did we face? Minimal resources (no additional funding or people were available), a complicated existing technology landscape, people and policy issues. These challenges are common to internal government projects (e.g. managing worries about “inappropriate use” or “access to information” requests, cultural mindsets of “not invented here” or “not ready for publication”, broader issues of governance and funding).

Using our experience with OPSpedia as a case study, I’ll cover some approaches to overcoming these challenges. I’ll talk about both what worked, and what didn’t, as we addressed technical implementation issues, policy decisions, growth strategies and planned communications and relationship building. The session will present the challenges that were faced, the approaches and tactics used to overcome them and the results that ensued.

I’ll talk a little bit about the results to date of our venture, and discuss how we’re using the momentum that we’ve gained from OPSpedia to both entrench it in the organization as well as push web and internet style thinking into new areas. I’ll talk about how our community members (government workers) have used our momentum to further change within their unrelated areas, and how we’re leveraging network effects to ultimately help our citizens.

As the problems are common the approaches that have succeeded in managing the challenges will be interesting to attendees who are building or planning to build similar platforms. Hearing what has been accomplished will help attendees see the possibilities of what such a platform has to offer.

This talk will be of most interest to government employees who are developing (or planning to develop) internal social media platforms, or those who work in workplaces where a similar platform is being delivered and are looking to get the most out of it.

David Tallan

Government of Ontario [Canada]

David Tallan led the OPSpedia team. As Senior Manager of Enterprise Web Development for the Ontario government, David Tallan is responsible for web modernization, for the Ontario.ca website and for providing standards and guidance to the Ontario Public Service web community. An important part of that is guidance on how best to leverage emerging web technologies. David has been providing access to government information and services over the Internet since 1993. When he first tried the web, it was limited to the CERN server and the “www” browser. Now, he’s providing advice to government leaders on how best to use the latest emerging web technologies – and putting that advice into practice.

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Comments

Picture of Joseph Thornley
Joseph Thornley
05/26/2010 3:20pm EDT

Great insight into how one government brought social media behind the firewall. Candid and generous. Lots of good content here.

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