Government Technology

Will Facebook Replace Traditional Government Web Sites?



February 24, 2010 By

Like most big cities, San Francisco runs a Web site packed with hundreds of pages of city services, department listings, community information and other resources. But SFgov.org's days as the primary electronic gateway into San Francisco government may be numbered.

Chris Vein, CIO for the city and county of San Francisco, said popular Web 2.0 platforms like Facebook or Google's search-driven suite of services may be displacing public-sector Web sites for many citizen-government interactions.

"We're seeing a fundamental shift in the way services are being delivered," said Vein, speaking Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the California CIO Academy, a two-day forum for government IT leaders in Sacramento. "We're looking at perhaps the end of a Web site for the city and county of San Francisco. I'm being overly dramatic, but Web sites may no longer be the primary way you get your information."

For instance, Vein pointed to the growing number of Facebook members who use the social media site as their home base on the Web. "For a certain demographic, Facebook is the only way for entering into a conversation with the rest of the world. They rely on it for their e-mail and other services," he said.

San Francisco's Facebook page already has more than 260,000 fans. The page announces city activities and gives users a place to comment on community issues. It also offers links to city services and video from city government-related events.

"On the city Facebook page, we have enabled all of the services that are available on our Web site," Vein said. "For instance, you can pay your parking ticket on the city Facebook site. We're looking at this as just another portal into the city. It's an experiment."

Facebook -- which has more than 200 million active users -- and other social network sites could become primary conduits for government services and information, Vein said.

"I think that's where we're going with this, and it's going to change the fundamental nature of government along the way," he said. "I'm thinking I need to reorganize how I'm presenting information."

 


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Comments

Michael    |    Commented February 25, 2010

So if you're not on Facebook . . . you don't get government services or just second class services? Remember the phase "of the people, for the people, and by the people", it does not say "of Facebook, for Facebook and by Facebook".

Who gets the Ad revenues - government or Facebook? I am being overly critical but we continue to dissolve the lines between government and corporations which used to be called Fascism - which generally does not turn out well for the individual citizens.

We are creating a new "have and have not's" just now maybe called Facebookers and non-Facebookers, yet all are Americans with the same rights to these services. The same government has limited the access to the broadband by only having service driven by corporate interests, not national interests.

Michael    |    Commented February 25, 2010

So if you're not on Facebook . . . you don't get government services or just second class services? Remember the phase "of the people, for the people, and by the people", it does not say "of Facebook, for Facebook and by Facebook".

Who gets the Ad revenues - government or Facebook? I am being overly critical but we continue to dissolve the lines between government and corporations which used to be called Fascism - which generally does not turn out well for the individual citizens.

We are creating a new "have and have not's" just now maybe called Facebookers and non-Facebookers, yet all are Americans with the same rights to these services. The same government has limited the access to the broadband by only having service driven by corporate interests, not national interests.

Michael    |    Commented February 25, 2010

So if you're not on Facebook . . . you don't get government services or just second class services? Remember the phase "of the people, for the people, and by the people", it does not say "of Facebook, for Facebook and by Facebook".

Who gets the Ad revenues - government or Facebook? I am being overly critical but we continue to dissolve the lines between government and corporations which used to be called Fascism - which generally does not turn out well for the individual citizens.

We are creating a new "have and have not's" just now maybe called Facebookers and non-Facebookers, yet all are Americans with the same rights to these services. The same government has limited the access to the broadband by only having service driven by corporate interests, not national interests.

Michael H    |    Commented February 25, 2010

Sorry, but while its a good idea to take your services to where you are, you can't stick all your eggs in one basket.

Let's not forget that SF isn't exactly delivering their services on Facebook, they're simply using it as a conduit between their customers and their service offerings.

And what about all the other issues that go with online service delivery, such as WAI/WCAG, Section 508, and the perceived trustworthiness of Govt. domains?

Sorry, but if I needed service from a Govt, and urgently, I wouldn't be doing it via Facebook as I don't know what insights or information they're getting from this, and what of that I don't particularly want them to have.

In short - any strategy that leaves you open to these issues and leaves you beholden to a specific platform/service provider is one that's doomed to fail and will blow up in your face sometime down the road.

Michael H    |    Commented February 25, 2010

Sorry, but while its a good idea to take your services to where you are, you can't stick all your eggs in one basket.

Let's not forget that SF isn't exactly delivering their services on Facebook, they're simply using it as a conduit between their customers and their service offerings.

And what about all the other issues that go with online service delivery, such as WAI/WCAG, Section 508, and the perceived trustworthiness of Govt. domains?

Sorry, but if I needed service from a Govt, and urgently, I wouldn't be doing it via Facebook as I don't know what insights or information they're getting from this, and what of that I don't particularly want them to have.

In short - any strategy that leaves you open to these issues and leaves you beholden to a specific platform/service provider is one that's doomed to fail and will blow up in your face sometime down the road.

Michael H    |    Commented February 25, 2010

Sorry, but while its a good idea to take your services to where you are, you can't stick all your eggs in one basket.

Let's not forget that SF isn't exactly delivering their services on Facebook, they're simply using it as a conduit between their customers and their service offerings.

And what about all the other issues that go with online service delivery, such as WAI/WCAG, Section 508, and the perceived trustworthiness of Govt. domains?

Sorry, but if I needed service from a Govt, and urgently, I wouldn't be doing it via Facebook as I don't know what insights or information they're getting from this, and what of that I don't particularly want them to have.

In short - any strategy that leaves you open to these issues and leaves you beholden to a specific platform/service provider is one that's doomed to fail and will blow up in your face sometime down the road.

Anonymous    |    Commented February 25, 2010

Interesting idea, however not everyone is on facebook - people like options and government is meeting the need. We will probably see more ways to provide services on the horizon, for example eGov Strategies comprehensive mobile app - which pull the information dynamically from sites.

Anonymous    |    Commented February 25, 2010

Interesting idea, however not everyone is on facebook - people like options and government is meeting the need. We will probably see more ways to provide services on the horizon, for example eGov Strategies comprehensive mobile app - which pull the information dynamically from sites.

Anonymous    |    Commented February 25, 2010

Interesting idea, however not everyone is on facebook - people like options and government is meeting the need. We will probably see more ways to provide services on the horizon, for example eGov Strategies comprehensive mobile app - which pull the information dynamically from sites.

AC    |    Commented February 25, 2010

While Facebook is popular today, it may not be 5 years from now. And what about all the privacy concerns. Are all of SF city employees on Facebook monitoring communications with constituents? As another poster alluded to, I'm not willing to use Facebook as a communications medium to the City. While I understand the enthusiasm to embrace Facebook, it's naive to think Facebook or any other social media site will replace a government domain.

AC    |    Commented February 25, 2010

While Facebook is popular today, it may not be 5 years from now. And what about all the privacy concerns. Are all of SF city employees on Facebook monitoring communications with constituents? As another poster alluded to, I'm not willing to use Facebook as a communications medium to the City. While I understand the enthusiasm to embrace Facebook, it's naive to think Facebook or any other social media site will replace a government domain.

AC    |    Commented February 25, 2010

While Facebook is popular today, it may not be 5 years from now. And what about all the privacy concerns. Are all of SF city employees on Facebook monitoring communications with constituents? As another poster alluded to, I'm not willing to use Facebook as a communications medium to the City. While I understand the enthusiasm to embrace Facebook, it's naive to think Facebook or any other social media site will replace a government domain.

Ken Barlow    |    Commented February 25, 2010

I think this is a great point - as pointed out, the key for effective e-government is interactive services that streamline the operations of local government. Quick access to those services will keep the city.gov portals relevant.

Ken Barlow    |    Commented February 25, 2010

I think this is a great point - as pointed out, the key for effective e-government is interactive services that streamline the operations of local government. Quick access to those services will keep the city.gov portals relevant.

Ken Barlow    |    Commented February 25, 2010

I think this is a great point - as pointed out, the key for effective e-government is interactive services that streamline the operations of local government. Quick access to those services will keep the city.gov portals relevant.

Anonymous    |    Commented February 25, 2010

Have you even considered security on this? And what about unwelcomed, spurious and defamatory comments from followers? As a government entity have they researched if they can delete comments? Who owns Facebook information--the City of San Francisco or Facebook? SF might be on a slippery slope.

Anonymous    |    Commented February 25, 2010

Have you even considered security on this? And what about unwelcomed, spurious and defamatory comments from followers? As a government entity have they researched if they can delete comments? Who owns Facebook information--the City of San Francisco or Facebook? SF might be on a slippery slope.

Anonymous    |    Commented February 25, 2010

Have you even considered security on this? And what about unwelcomed, spurious and defamatory comments from followers? As a government entity have they researched if they can delete comments? Who owns Facebook information--the City of San Francisco or Facebook? SF might be on a slippery slope.

wondertruth    |    Commented February 27, 2010

Hope not! Facebook is nonserious, leisure-time, fantasy website entertainment, whereas public service websites help SERVE the public to resolve SERIOUS, realistic, non-entertaining, non-leisurely, even life-threatening time periods.

wondertruth    |    Commented February 27, 2010

Hope not! Facebook is nonserious, leisure-time, fantasy website entertainment, whereas public service websites help SERVE the public to resolve SERIOUS, realistic, non-entertaining, non-leisurely, even life-threatening time periods.

wondertruth    |    Commented February 27, 2010

Hope not! Facebook is nonserious, leisure-time, fantasy website entertainment, whereas public service websites help SERVE the public to resolve SERIOUS, realistic, non-entertaining, non-leisurely, even life-threatening time periods.

Bart    |    Commented February 28, 2010

It won't be facebook that's replacing traditional websites. But the techniques used in social media can be an advantage to upgrade our communication channels

Bart    |    Commented February 28, 2010

It won't be facebook that's replacing traditional websites. But the techniques used in social media can be an advantage to upgrade our communication channels

Bart    |    Commented February 28, 2010

It won't be facebook that's replacing traditional websites. But the techniques used in social media can be an advantage to upgrade our communication channels

Andre'    |    Commented March 2, 2010

As a possible replacement to traditional government service websites, the question that sticks out to me is 'what are the cost benefits?' All municipalities are in cost reduction mode, hence with such a new interest, there most be some serious savings attached (I am assuming).

Andre'    |    Commented March 2, 2010

As a possible replacement to traditional government service websites, the question that sticks out to me is 'what are the cost benefits?' All municipalities are in cost reduction mode, hence with such a new interest, there most be some serious savings attached (I am assuming).

Andre'    |    Commented March 2, 2010

As a possible replacement to traditional government service websites, the question that sticks out to me is 'what are the cost benefits?' All municipalities are in cost reduction mode, hence with such a new interest, there most be some serious savings attached (I am assuming).

Lara    |    Commented March 17, 2010

There are a number of tools we use to promote communication; some are better at different uses.

While it is good to promote certain events (like City celebrations and attractions), FB is a social media and a great tool to use for such attractions but it does not replace the need for other tools to communicate.

I don't think any serious web admin would really take a look at the complexities of information which need to be presented for the larger cities and towns and consider it. Then again, a town of 15 to 450 people may find it a viable option as in no to low-cost.

Its a tool, and a good one. You just have to make sure it fits with the use you need. I think people forget to do that sometimes. Take a look at the tool and see if it is a good use.

Lara    |    Commented March 17, 2010

There are a number of tools we use to promote communication; some are better at different uses.

While it is good to promote certain events (like City celebrations and attractions), FB is a social media and a great tool to use for such attractions but it does not replace the need for other tools to communicate.

I don't think any serious web admin would really take a look at the complexities of information which need to be presented for the larger cities and towns and consider it. Then again, a town of 15 to 450 people may find it a viable option as in no to low-cost.

Its a tool, and a good one. You just have to make sure it fits with the use you need. I think people forget to do that sometimes. Take a look at the tool and see if it is a good use.

Lara    |    Commented March 17, 2010

There are a number of tools we use to promote communication; some are better at different uses.

While it is good to promote certain events (like City celebrations and attractions), FB is a social media and a great tool to use for such attractions but it does not replace the need for other tools to communicate.

I don't think any serious web admin would really take a look at the complexities of information which need to be presented for the larger cities and towns and consider it. Then again, a town of 15 to 450 people may find it a viable option as in no to low-cost.

Its a tool, and a good one. You just have to make sure it fits with the use you need. I think people forget to do that sometimes. Take a look at the tool and see if it is a good use.


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