Canada’s Digital Strategy: We Want Access

by Jordan Richardson on July 15, 2010

“Access” was the buzzword for what those taking part in Canada’s federal consultations wanted out of the country’s new digital strategy. The government has been seeking input for the digital economy strategy for about two months now and it is clear what the majority of participants are after.

Access and openness were the general themes to most of the discussion during the online consultations. The consultations ended Thursday and that has created an opportunity to review what the input was and how it could have a role in shaping Canada’s strategy going forward.

The government says that more than 2,000 individuals and organizations took part in the consultations online. Out of that, some 160 formal submissions were posted on the website. Dozens of other informal submissions were on display on the site’s ideas forum. Registered users were invited to comment and rate the various submissions.

Through it all, the theme of free public acess to government information was at the forefront. By having open access to government information, such as the information collected through Stats Canada, decision-making becomes a more clear process for individuals and IT professionals.

Other input included greater access to internet and broadband in rural areas to help stimulate growth and greater access to wireless spectrum in the industry to stimulate actual competition. Government use of open-source technology and public ownership of internet infrastructure also ranked among the submissions.

Another interesting submission that caught my eye was one that encouraged the government to act as leaders in the technological world. This means that the government should openly be using new technology and networks to provide information to the public, meaning that they should be good model digital citizens.

How the implementation of these submissions could look is, of course, another story. The government does intend to examine the submissions thoroughly in its implementation process, which generally takes over six months depend in details. There are other models to follow internationally, including a transparent digitial economy strategy out of New Zealand that carries many of the submission ideas with it.

As Canada moves into the next phase of its existence, it’s clear that a digital economy strategy must be implemented. The strategy must be practical and precise, but most of all it must be democratic.

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