I’ve just looked at the top four apps on Victoria’s AppMyState comp – the winners were announced tonight – and they’re marvellous. Really natty, fresh and (it seems well done, though I’ve not put them through any very rigorous testing.) What’s happening here is something a little akin to what happened with various bits of utility deregulation, particularly telecommunications. The government remains to provide utility or pubic public good service – the bit that is funded by governments and that wouldn’t be done without them, but, just as we figured that the market for phone handsets could be competitive even if making the wires competitive was more problematic, so these apps show that the non-government sector can build great interfaces between government and the community.
FixMyStreet in the UK may have been the forerunner of this trend, though readers may have other examples – and there are probably pre-internet examples or analogies I’ve not thought of. But now we have a crimespotting app which looks great, and a fancy way to figure out various transport options – Transportle. And there are many more.
So this is not some gimmick, it’s a great way to improve the interface between governments and the community. But the other thing that struck me when I attended the mashup events that we put on in the Government 2.0 Taskforce is the energy and goodwill and the way in which letting people from outside play around can turn up possibilities that were pretty much invisible to the people inside the organisations.
Anyway, congratulations to the winners for their terrific creations.