January 13, 2017Doug Hadden
Government is a complex undertaking. There are far more “lines of business” in governments than large conglomerates. This complexity can lead to opaque notions of what goes on in government. The suspicion of lack of competence – “out of touch”. Or, conspiracies to change behaviour – the “nanny state”.
Governments suffer from a trust deficit. This deficit leads to instability. To reduced tax compliance.
Citizens often distrust government news about programs gone right. It only takes a few programs gone wrong to support stereotypes about the public sector.
Many governments seeking to improve citizen services through digital technology, such as “smart cities” initiatives, are following so-called “best practices” rather than engaging citizens. These initiatives are doomed to limited positive returns. In trust, the medium is the message. Citizens, civil society and businesses need to be engaged in selecting smart cities initiatives. This engagement must extend to feedback mechanisms and full transparency. Otherwise, distrust will create skepticism for any outcome claims.
We’ve already witnessed a backlash against smart cities concepts.
Trust must be a measured outcome of smart government and open government programs.