You know a city’s going to be cold when it turns its river into the world’s biggest ice-rink (7 km long) and encourages its citizens to skate to work. Welcome to Ottawa! The coldest capital city I’ve ever experienced, but one that does cold well.
From a Federal perspective, Canada seems to be in a funny position when it comes to Gov2.0, where in some cases it’s hugely progressive and in others it’s seriously lagging behind. Chatting to @RyanAndrosoff and his colleagues they high-lighted the challenging environment Canadian government works in having to address rigorous language guidelines (everything needs to be accessible in both French and English), data management legislation (linked to the US Patriot Act) and rigorous accessibility rules.
From our experiences, accessibility and data management (i.e. the need to store citizen data on local servers) are standard for most governments, however the bi-lingual thing is fairly unique (especially in its legislative rigour). What @NickCharney pointed out (over an Elk Burger and beer) was that the bi-lingual and data legislation has had a real impact on adoption of more innovative services and apps from the US – where a lot of Gov2.0 innovation is born – as these apps are largely hosted on US / cloud servers and don’t broadly deal with multi-lingual very well.
That said, in developing Delib’s suite of apps, we’ve been pretty forward-thinking in how we deliver and build our apps. At present none of our apps are fully bi-lingual (this is something we’re working on) we do have local server centres around the world (our Canadian servers are based in BC).
- GCpedia: the Canadian government’s wiki, which has been used by over 30,000 civil servants so far.
- GC’s Open government initiative: which is pushing for open data, open information and open dialogue.
- Social media guidelines: these are a newly released set of guidelines for all civil servants to give them a sense of how to use social media best. Though maybe they should take a leaf out of the Australian Victorian State Government’s book and create a *gov social how to video*.
Beyond my digging around the Canadian Gov2.0 scene, and escaping the freezing weather, I have to say I had a really great time in Ottawa thanks to a mixture of awesome people, awesome coffee shops (Grounded’s highly-recommended) and awesome Elk burgers.
I thought this photo was a nicely summary of the best and worst bits of Ottawa (-3 = worst, elk burger = best) 😉