What can go wrong with e-enabled government? A consultancy team has set up Blindside to find out. The twist: anyone can post comments to the blog, and anyone can edit the wiki.
Blindside was created by Kable, a consultancy specialising in the public sector, in conjunction with Vega, a specialist in information assurance. Kable and Vega are committed to report to the Cabinet Office Central Sponsor for Information Assurance once a quarter. The first report is due at the end of March.
It is probably the first time in any country that the public has been able to make such direct input into the way its government operates.
Kable chairman William Heath also runs the Ideal Government site. Heath describes the difference between Ideal Government and Blindside this way: "Ideal Government asks, 'What do we want from e-enabled public services?' The answer, he says, is quick wins: RSS for freedom of information, for example.
"By contrast, Blindside asks, 'What's going to go wrong in our e-enabled world?' Building trust between us and our government is crucial. It's dangerous if we go into the information age without really good dialogue across different disciplines."
Opened for business the other day without fanfare, Blindside attempts to identify and summarise the many issues for government IT that security and policy analysts talk about frequently, but often not to each other, such as electronic voting, identity cards, data mining, and fraud.
It is, he says, all part of "government's function as guardian of the critical national infrastructure".
The big question: can you do real information gathering on a publicly accessible wiki without finding it filled with "the awkward squad"?
Heath says: "Civil servants don't blog for obvious reasons. But they need to engage with the blogosphere. They've asked us (via Vega) for input about emerging technologies and the information assurance implications thereof. We feel it's best to respond in this way. I just hope it works." ®