It is incumbent upon government to be technologically in sync with the people. Unfortunately, that sync is a perpetually moving target that requires regular recalibration. That sync is never achieved when a government’s philosophy is to merely cater to the lowest common denominator. From the time of town criers to today’s websites, citizens expect government to be on the same page technologically, using the best tools available.

When I read that a mere fifty years ago there was a debate about whether or not public servants should get telephones for their work – aside from spraying a mouthful of iced tea all over my screen – I realized that the same debate continues today and repeats itself until a government becomes a technology leader.

A decade ago would’ve shown elected officials without email accounts to be perceived as inept, and still there is a Luddite faction that refuse to communicate that way. Today, Google, Wikipedia, and other knowledge extenders are so common that they are in our pockets, on our mobile phones; and yet and some local governments STILL debate whether or not internet access is allowable. It’s the old telephone argument all over again.

Despite the laptop computer’s presence on the dais, there are elected officials who come with paper and pen only. In some cases, where there are laptops, there is no Wi-Fi. This is frustrating to citizens, this is NOT meeting their expectations. Citizens want their representatives to be the most well informed people in the room, not an employee’s kid sitting in the corner with an LTE iPad Mini waiting for the meeting to end.

Today’s citizen is fully digital. Today’s citizen gets new software updates daily on their smart phones and tablets. These tools are being improved perpetually and automatically. Today’s government agency needs to be just as digital as the citizens they serve. Digital government leadership happens when the technological rate of adoption exceeds that of the median citizen.

We the citizens expect digital government leadership. We the citizens expect our elected leaders to have this when making decisions for us:

  • Quality of Data

    There is no reason for the decision makers not to have the most comprehensive and accurate data available.

  • Efficiency and Ease of Access

    Having great data means nothing if specific data cannot be found with little effort and time.

  • Current technology

    Reliable, speedy, and capable hardware and software, that meets the best standards of the day should be assumed for leadership.

When an elected official sits at the dais, the tools needed must provide convenience through quality of data and ease of access. The current optimum setup to achieve this is with an iPad – more convenient than a laptop – and a digital agenda. But a digital agenda isn’t just a PDF or Word document anymore. That was six years ago. Today’s digital agenda is hyperlinked to all the details and information needed to make the right decisions. Video of all past discussions on an item are available with a tap of the finger.

We don’t want to see leaders with huge stacks of paper and pens running out of ink. We want to see this: