Strategic Planning

How to Establish Trust With Citizens Using Open Government Data

It has long been established that when executed correctly and at the appropriate time, self-disclosure is one of the hallmarks of building a positive relationship. Studies have shown that sharing information about ourselves is more likely to build greater cooperation, liking and trust with others. This is true whether the relationship is one between friends, an employer with their employees, or even a government with its citizens.

The importance that society places on concepts such as openness and transparency has increased significantly over the past several decades. Much of this increase can be attributed to advancements in digital technology and the move towards communications through online forums. Through various web-based and social media outlets, individuals, corporations and governments can now interact with one another and disclose information about themselves for others to see.

On a personal level, we see and participate in this new method of self-disclosure all the time. We are fairly comfortable publicizing various aspects of our lives online and through social media, whether these are personal achievements, things we’re interested in, where we’ve been, or maybe just what we’re up to that day.  Even through cyber-space, we can’t help but feel a bit closer and more connected to those we interact with or read about online.

Organizations and local governments can benefit from publicizing their data in much the same way. In fact, incorporating openness and transparency practices in an organization has become one of the best and most effective ways to be recognized and remain competitive in the public sphere. Citizens are demanding more open, connected and meaningful relationships with organizations, and with these stronger relationships comes a higher perception of credibility and trust. When a government releases data on a public forum, they are opening themselves up and making themselves more accountable to the public. This is known as open government data.

A great way for governments to start building trust with their citizens is by sharing their short- and long-term goals — the objectives they want to achieve and the deadlines by which they will achieve them. Taking it another step further, governments may wish to disclose the particular actions being undertaken in order to reach the goals they’ve set. This is a great way to keep citizens up-to-date on the operations within their community and how their government is working to improve it.

One way that governments are providing meaningful data to their citizens is through the use of public dashboards. Dashboards refine extensive datasets into a single platform that is simple and easy to use. Using real-time updates, citizens can monitor the progress of their city on any given objective, and ensure that plans stay on track. Public dashboards enable cities to develop relationships with their citizens, and thus help to establish credibility and trust.

Consistent and truthful disclosure helps to cultivate a more active and responsive relationship in which citizens hold their government accountable to their objectives, and become more engaged and more likely to take on a more active role in government.

What are some ways that your organization uses open data to connect with others?

Mike Bell

Mike has dedicated his professional and personal life to seeking out challenges – traveling to the edge of his comfort zone and then pushing a bit further. He’s a serial entrepreneur, combining his thirst for adventure with his drive for doing work that matters. Mike is a recognized expert in local government strategic planning, performance management, and comparative benchmarking.

Mike’s passion for public service drives him and his team to build more efficient, transparent, and trusted public sector agencies. As ‘private sector public servants’ the Envisio team helps to align the work of governments with the needs of their communities by activating strategic plans, engaging employees, measuring performance, and reporting on results.

Mike is father to three girls and an avid skier, golfer, badminton, player and photographer.

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