The University of Regina is about to establish a research chair in e-governance financed with $2 million over 10 years from Cisco Systems Inc.
It was one of two research chairs announcements made this week by Cisco. The networking equipment and unified communications company also said it will fund a $2 million research chair in mining solutions at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
“Through this partnership we will help move public sector governance policy and practice forward to keep pace with the rapid evolution of communication technology in areas such as social media,” she said in a news release.
The release said e-governance research may include developing best practices in sharing government information, promoting government services, recruiting and retaining public sector employees and ‘virtual government.’
While she acknowledged that Cisco’s has an interest in results that shows the benefits of technology, there will be no restrictions on the research.
“They didn’t just give us $2 million and tell us what to do with it,” she said. If there are “unexpected results” the researcher will be expected to publish them.
Cisco’s fund alone won’t be behind the chair, she added. The university will have to find more financing from individuals and the provincial government.
The position will likely be advertised in January and she hopes it will be filled by July. The winning candidate – who won’t necessarily be Canadian – will be have doctoral-level experience and likely already be doing research in the area.
“The ability of networked technologies, video and the Internet to improve communication and transactional capacities are key processes of public sector modernization,” Cisco Canada president Nitin Kawale said in a statement. “Government must enhance their networking capacity and adapt to virtual environments and the transformative power of video.”
Local, provincial and federal governments have started to work on this area, broadly called open government.
It includes making government data publicly available through open data portals so developers can create new apps, encouraging public servants to make better use of social media to communicate with each other and letting residents use social media to communicate with the governments.