July 24, 2007 By Wayne Hanson
Art: Rendering of Sweden's Second Life Embassy
Last May, as Internet users were discovering Second Life -- described on the site as a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its more than 8 million residents -- the government of Sweden announced it was putting a Swedish embassy there in the online world.
Boston is also ramping up a Second Life online presence, according to a recent story in the
Boston Globe, and the city hopes to present concerts, hold virtual office hours by city officials, and help residents engage in many of the types of civic participation currently conducted through e-mail or on the city's Web site, but with the added novelty of a virtual world.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.