Saturday, August 29, 2009

Government 2.0 for Cluster Housing

One area the Government 2.0 taskforce could usefully look at is applying web technology to the fourth level of government in Australia: cluster housing. While Australia has three formal levels of government: federal, state and local, there is a fourth level emerging: body corporates and companies running multiple dwelling accommodation. Apartment blocks and aged accommodation form an increasing part of how Australian live and an area outside formal government processes.

Local government is more important than federal or state government in the day to day lives of Australian citizens. That there is water in the tap, the phone works, the garbage is collected and the street lights work very directly effects daily life. Increasingly these services are not provided by government but by non-government organisations with limited input from the citizens. This is not good situation for a democratic country.

Most apartments in Australia are under state based body cooperate laws. Some apartments are run as non-profit companies, while aged accommodation is run as non or for-profit companies. These organisations face many of the same issues as government, in terms of consulting their clients. They increasingly provide services which were previously the role of government.

An good example is City Edge in Canberra. This complex has hundreds of apartments and town houses. The complex includes privately owned owner occupied and rented dwellings. There are also apartments owned by a non profit cooperative contracted by the ACT Government to provide low cost accommodation, including specially designed apartments for the disabled.

The buildings of the City Edge complex are government by several separate bodies corporate, each with its own management committee of owners. There is then a non-profit company with representatives from the bodies corporate to manage common property between the buildings. The complex has its own garbage collection services, solar/gas central hot water, fibre optic broadband connection, roads and solar powered street lights. The costs are paid from fees levied on the owners.

The usual way to run a body corporate is with an unpaid committee of owners. Large complexes, such as City Edge, employ companies to provide administration. These companies typically send the owners paper documents and arrange face to face meetings. Some companies are now using email and the web to a limited extent.

Owners are to a large extent disenfranchised by the lack of any effective way to be consulted in the running of their property. Tenants of cluster housing who are not owners are excluded from most of the decision making process. There are frequent problems with bodies corporate in Australia, leading to expensive court cases.

A similar situation exists in aged care accommodation, which is either run by non-profit or for profit companies with little input from the residents.

The Australian Government could usefully improve this situation by sponsoring the creation of web based systems to support administration and consultation for decision making in cluster housing. This would allow better administration and resident engagement. Free open source standard software could be provided for use across Australia. The software could be used by committees of volunteers in smaller complexes and by administrating companies for larger properties. This would also reduce costs to state government who are required to administer the cluster housing.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

W3C on eGovernment

Jose Manuel Alonso will be talking on W3C on e-Government at the CSIRO ICT center in Canberra today. W3C are starting an eGovernment Interest Group in their technology and society section. However, I don't see this as useful, as the needs of governance of corporations and non-government bodies have all the same issues as governments. What we need are technologies which will work for all of these and across the sectors.

W3C on e-Government
Jose Manuel Alonso (W3C)

DATE: 2008-05-20
TIME: 12:30:00 - 13:30:00
LOCATION: CSIT Seminar Room, N101

It's no secret that just as the web has revolutionised business, the media, and many other parts of our lives, it is also revolutionising how governments and citizens interact, and how government provide services. But how to do it well is still something of a black art.

In this keynote presentation, the lead of the W3C's eGovernment initiative, José Manuel Alonso, looks at the opportunities the web provides governments, the challenges, old and new, the web poses, and the role of the W3C in helping to develop underlying, interoperable technologies with which to build these services.

José's presentation will cover best practices and methodologies for providing eGovernment services, and look at case studies of how governments and communities are connecting via the web around the world.

José is currently the eGovernment Lead at W3C. Prior to joining W3C, José was the Manager for the W3C Spain Office for three years and also served as the Advisory Committee Representative for CTIC (host of the Spain Office).

José has broad experience in project management, software integration, customer relationship, PR and IT consultancy. He received Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Masters degree in Enterprise Application Integration, both from the University of Oviedo, where he also worked at its Research and Innovation departments as a researcher, developer and lecturer. He also worked previously as consultant and even founded his own Web company back in 1997.

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