During the recent New Brunswick Provincial election a low number of eligible voters cast a ballot. This occurred despite the fact that Elections New Brunswick has made it easier than ever to vote. Not only did Elections NB offer early voting stations, they also increased the number of stations on campuses. With all of these opportunities to get out and cast a ballot why did the voter turnout drop so significantly? Many people believe that there needs to be a substantial change in how we vote and how we participate with our government. One person who addresses such change is scheduled to speak at the upcoming GovMaker Conference on November 24-25 2014 in Fredericton NB. Her name is Dr. Beth Noveck.
Dr. Beth Noveck, Founder and Director, of the GovLab is one of the best known advocates for creating open government policies. She has an educational background in many fields varying from comparative literature to cyber and intellectual property law. Dr. Noveck was the very first Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the United States, making her the leader of Open Government for the Obama Administration. She gained this position after the U.S. government saw how her Peer-to-Patent project revolutionized the U.S. Patent Office.
Another organization that Dr. Noveck has had participation in creating is the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Opening Governance. This networking organization was established through the GovLab and funded through grants. The MacArthur Foundation Research Network focuses on assessment of old and new practices of decision making within institutions. The network uses empirical data in order to understand and apply changes to decision-making, with their main goal being to create change for public interest.
In Dr. Noveck’s TED Talk she explains the analogy of social networks and how they create a community, allowing people from all over the globe to connect and discuss various topics. She then continues to explain that networking has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with our governments. If we had a more open way of connecting to the government then citizens would in turn feel more valued, which would lead to an increase in citizen participation of government activities. She gives many examples of this networking phenomena in her TED Talk.
Dr. Noveck offers much more detail about open governments and participation in her book Wiki Government, which explains how technology can be used to transform the way our government systems work. In three parts Dr. Noveck highlights the need for change in our governments through the use of technology. Using her Peer-to-Patent case study Dr. Noveck offers a ‘how to’ guide to revolutionize the way we work, collaborate, and participate.
This coming November 24th and 25th the GovMaker Conference team has the pleasure of hosting Dr. Beth Noveck. If you are interested and need more information about hearing Dr. Noveck speak please follow the link: http://www.policyresearchnetwork.ca/en/events/save-the-date-govmaker-conference/.