CIO Chris A. Vein of the San Francisco CIO Chris A. Vein of the San Francisco Department of Technology best summarized the significance of the meeting by saying "Cities face many of the same problems whether you are city in America, or in Europe, or in Asia. And I think all of us are trying to figure out ways to make government work better. And by that I mean make it more transparent, more collaborative, and more accountable to the citizens. Technology is a very effective tool to make that happen. It's got amazing transformative power".
Seoul initiates international cooperative body for e-government
The Seoul Metropolitan Government has envisioned the launch of an international cooperative body to strengthen city-to-city cooperation and exchanges on e-governments.
Mayor of Frankfurt, Petra Roth thanked the city of Seoul and Mayor Oh Se-hoon for laying the foundation for this initiative. Ms. Roth stated, "To our digital projects I wish- for now and for the future- that in the large as well as in the smaller communities they make all our lives more comfortable, easier, and happier. That is the aim WeGO is pursuing and this aim pleases me extremely as well."
Under a theme of "e-Sharing for All", 500 attendees including mayors and CIOs from 51 countries filled the Seoul Grand Hyatt conference center for the inaugural general assembly. The opening ceremony was aired live on the city Seoul homepage, as well as the internet broadcast site, Africa TV. Twitter, too, broadcasted the WeGO ceremony to let the world know of the cities and local governments' cooperative movement on the subject of open government.
Leaders of e-government inaugurated as executive committee
Paris, Edmonton, Sao Paulo, Barcelona, San Francisco, Frankfurt, and Beijing were all appointed as Vice President Cities for their advances in open government initiatives and their tremendous effort to promote WeGO. Leaders inspired the less advanced cities to benchmark good practices of e-governments by sharing their experiences.
Mayor Roth said, "We have established an information platform that collects all information from countless cities, several federal states, and even federal authorities. Now citizens only have to call one single call center and can save themselves many, many rounds with the authorities. Linkage and common use of data in order to make the lives of our citizens at least a little easier-that is our e-sharing examples. I am looking forward to the many other interesting examples from other cities."
Mr. Vein, added "What San Francisco is doing is trying to unlock the value inside its data, its application, its infrastructure and figure out how to get that value into the hands of citizens, and really make the citizens co- creators in applications and solutions. We are working with all kinds of other cities to make sure we can learn from them, and if we have any lessons that are worthwhile to them, we share them, and events like this are incredibly important to make sure all of that happens." San Francisco was inaugurated as a Vice President of the World e-Governments Organization 2010.
Edmonton also shared its liberal plans for the future of the Open Government era. "It is significant to have an opportunity to be involved in this organization. It's new, and it falls in line with our use of technology to provide economic development for the citizens and to be able to represent Canada as well," said Edmonton CIO Chris Moore. He continued by saying, "We have a strong brand in many festivals, oil and gas, and also knowledge. Council has a new strategic plan for 2009-2018, very focused on green, sustainable city. In Canada, the city of Edmonton has continually provided leadership in Open Data through its innovative engagement and technology strategy." Mr. Moore further shared the benefits of Open Data and said that the city has been leveraging technology to link government to residents in the most successful way.
Sao Paulo attended meeting with a distinct role. Edilson Mougenot Bonfim, head of the Internal Affairs Office of Sao Paulo City Hall said, "We are accepting all of the new ideas. We are absolutely conscious of the importance of this meeting, and we also are aware of how important is Korea as our leader. Our strengths will be directed to collaborate with the president of this meeting because we are sure that he is doing a really good job, and our consideration. Together, we are building a big dream." As a representative of a city that is highly influenced by diverse people, he introduced Sao Paulo as the multifaceted city that never stops growing.
Some cities like Dakar hadn't yet launched Open Government initiatives, but the representative of Dakar stated that its importance was well understood and he hoped to share its experience at the Barcelona assembly next year
Mayor Oh Se-hoon of the President City, Seoul, emphasized the importance of togetherness, "I expect the power of IT to create a wave of mutual collaboration that will reach out to every city around the world. People often say that if you dream alone, your dream will remain nothing but a dream, but if you dream together, you can turn your dreams into reality for all. Therefore, I strongly believe that our collaboration will work a miracle for our wishes."
Miles to go before sleep
WeGO is an international organization of cities and local governments committed to accomplish three goals. It seeks to share and disseminate knowledge and practices of e-governments around the world, to achieve Green Growth utilizing Information and Communication Technologies; to bridge the digital divide by providing IT support to cities in developing countries; and to advance the quality of life for citizens by improving administrative efficiency and transparency.
Following are the potential projects for global collaboration among members of the World e-Governments Organization of Cities and Local Governments.
- Training Officials or Citizens on IT Usage Skill
- Dissemination of Best Practices (via portals, i.e. epractice.eu)
- u-City Model Development
- Feasibility Studies for e-Government Master Plan (1 to 1 or N to 1)
- Volunteer Experts Recruiting & Exchange
- Open Government
- Generalized Enterprise Architecture of City for Interoperability Increase
- Pointer to Public Services (Governmental Functional Organization Map)
- Building Directory of e-Government Relevant Organizations
- Increasing Citizen Service Use & Usability
- ROI of the e-Government
- Safety, Surveillance, and Disaster Recovery
"San Francisco's Open Government initiative supports a complete rethinking of how government works. To make that happen, leaders must be dreamers, doers, and drives. They must roll-up their sleeves, and start creating solutions, but ensuring the citizens are involved every step of the way, creating positive change in increments," said Chris Vein. It is clear that e-Government has changed the way governments work, and has enhanced the access to, and the delivery of, services. Here, cities' cooperation will help pave the way for societies to overcome diverse challenges and to allow for sustainable growth of cities across the globe.
Long live the WeGO initiative and the spirit of the cities who are committed to its success, for openness will set us free.