Targeted consultations/sites for different interest groups

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Submitted By
Katie Clancy
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Votes: 55

Open government inherently contains the ideas of inclusiveness, transparency and accountability. I'm super excited there is one portal to rule them all, but some groups will be inherently more difficult to engage but should nevertheless probably be a part of the conversation. So they should be targeted specifically to provide input.

Take youth for example - tons of studies demonstrate that the millenial generation care, are willing to engage in open dialogues, and may be drivers of social innovation. However, they are not voting. Where is this differential between civic and online engagement coming from? Do they have specific needs or interests as a group that should be addressed. Open government feels like it should be a natural route to drive increased youth engagement in civic responsibilities.

So I'd like to see smaller initiatives to target groups who may currently face increased barriers to participation in order to generate more dialogue on INCLUSIVE open government. Right now, I'm noticing that the dialogue tends to be from educated, interested voices - which is great - but it does mean we could be missing important structural barriers to openness for the future that could exacerbate inequality in "openness". For example, let's talk with aboriginal groups. Immigrants. People living in poverty who don't necessarily have access to online infrastructure. And then aggregate their feedback into this one site so it is part of the greater dialogue.

How to do this?

Youth: you could cerate a smaller, flashier website that is more appealing to those youths, and try targeting specific groups (high schools and universities, maybe?). Perhaps ask different questions - not just what they think open government should look like, but what would a government they would actually want to engage with look like? This might be bleeding the lines a little bit, but the end result could be very informative for this discussion on openness.

Aboriginal Canadian groups: specifically consult with leaders and groups. They have a strong voice (see: Idle is no more), and specific attention needs to be given to ensure that they have an opportunity to dialogue on open government, their needs and wants, and addressing any barriers to participation.

Other specific groups could include immigrants and/or diaspora groups (As Minister Kenney said himself - some of the biggest users of Canada's websites) and Senior Citizens. I believe open consultations are ongoing with Industry and civil society already.

This is a really important step in maintaining a spirit of openness. Open is cool because it is, inherently, open to all. It is hard to be all things to all people - so let's make sure we've scoped restrictions to openness and hopes for it at all levels within Canada's action plan. And then build cool, open solutions *together* (whether through crowd sourcing or policy initiatives) to address those problems.

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