Australian government urged to adopt Web 2.0

The federal government has released the report of the Review of the National Innovation System Venturous Australia, which details recommendations for remodeling the nation’s innovation system.

Among 72 key recommendations was a call for an advisory committee of Web 2.0 practitioners to be established to propose and help steer governments as they experiment with Web 2.0 technologies and ideas.

“…exciting new possibilities are now emerging for government from the collaborative use of Internet technologies and platforms otherwise known as Web 2.0”, the report read, offering the example of crime being tracked in US neighborhoods using Google’s online maps.

“In Los Angeles, Neighbourhood Knowledge California identifies communities at economic risk by tracking tax delinquency, fire violations and other signs of deterioration. The federal government has launched several wikis, which permit officials to post information and expand on it until a consensus is reached,” the report said.

According to the review, among the most interesting uses of Web 2.0 technologies by government is Intellipedia; a cross-departmental platform of collaborative tools, such as wikis, that officials from the CIA, FBI, NSA and other US intelligence agencies use to share information.

“The possibilities [of Web 2.0 technologies] here are so substantial, so full of promise (and sometimes so challenging to existing cultures) that it is neither possible nor desirable for this report to spell out comprehensively what might or should occur,” the report, released on Tuesday, said.

However, it did indicate that there are a number of principles with which we may be able to make progress:

“The most fundamental principle is that governments should be as open as possible to experiments with Web 2.0 approaches. Importantly, they should seek to learn from those that are successful but should expect, and educate the public to expect, that many initiatives will not fully succeed.”

The review also recommended making information about the full range of Australian state and territory government innovation programs available through a Web portal.

Other ICT related recommendations include the suggestion that all practicable information, research and content funded by Australian governments should be made freely available over the Internet as part of a global public commons.

“This should be done whilst the Australian government encourages other countries to reciprocate by making their own contributions to the global digital public commons,” the report said.

Chair of the review, Dr Terry Cutler, said innovation is more than just research & development and technology; it is also about improving the capacity of firms to modify technologies and services in response to customer demand.

“Having a competitive economy depends upon the capacity of businesses to embrace innovation and use it to capitalize on new markets and to satisfy changing customer demands,” he said.

Cutler said that when it comes to innovation, Australia is stalling, not sprinting ahead, and the architecture of the existing national innovation system is now a generation old and in urgent need of re-appraisal and re-structuring.

According to a statement released by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, the review drew from over 700 submissions to make 72 recommendations that range across the components of an effective innovation system; including business innovation, strengthening people and skills, national research, information and market design, and taxation.

“The report is a working blueprint to reposition Australia’s innovation system,” Cutler said.

“The challenge for Australia is to take stock and seize the opportunity to rejuvenate and re-invigorate our innovation system — if we do not, we risk a decline in our national prosperity.

“Now is the time to embrace innovation and to create a national innovation system that is able to meet the challenges of the next decade.”

The Review of the National Innovation System Venturous Australia can be viewed in full here.