Tourists visiting the canals of Amsterdam often don't realize that they are often only three meter deep. The canals consist of three layers according to one of the tourist guides:
- one meter of mud
- one meter of bicycles
- one meter of water
The City of Amsterdam puts enormous effort in demuddification and debicyclation of its historic heritage.
This makes one wonder how authorities handle demuddification of another important piece of heritage: the relation with their constituents. There is ample example of situations where the layer of mud is increasing and transparency diminishing. It should be said that this is not due to the lack of good intentions at the public services side. There are many initiatives that aim at greater citizen participation and better citizen centric services. They face the challenge that the proliferation of information systems and policy systems has created a layer of mud that is hard to overcome.
Offering meaningful and understandable information, and context and situation specific services, supported by self adjusting processes, is hardly possible with technology that is based on the previous century. The failure of IT projects in the public sector (as well in the industry by the way) has led to an overreaction of over-cautiousness. Organizations are looking for solutions for problems from yesterday to answer the questions of today and meet the challenges of tomorrow.
It seems that the demuddification in this domain still has a long way to go. Why not take a boat trip on the canals of Amsterdam meanwhile? Enjoy the trip.
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