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Design Lessons for Smart Governance Infrastructures

December 07, 2016 by Erik Johnston, Derek Hansen

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This chapter provides design lessons on how to take advantage of advances in information technologies that have enabled new governance infrastructures to become both possible and desirable. A governance infrastructure is the collection of technologies, people, policies, practices, resources, social norms, and information that interact to support governing activities. Smart governance infrastructures augment society's ability to organize, interact, and govern. Novel instances of smart governance infrastructures already exist and are regularly emerging in distributed organizations and online communities. As we think about rebooting the public square, this chapter is intended to challenge us to move beyond questions of how to best manage government institutions to questions of how to design governance systems with the appropriate incentives and rules to harness and coordinate the diversity, enthusiasm, and capabilities of those governed. We provide several design lessons learned from successful governance infrastructures and propose how they can be applied to address national priorities. This chapter anticipates how the interaction of technology and society can be leveraged to mindfully design problem-defined, participation-based governance infrastructures to return power to the people while increasing accountability and efficiency.