GTEC 2010: A secure social network for the G20

When G20 leaders met in Toronto last June to discuss the global economy, they had a new made-in-Canada tool to track the gathering: a secure hosted “Facebook.”

Fourty public and private sector organizations collaborated to create the application, joined under the Canadian Digital Media Network.

At past gatherings of international heads of state, individual leaders brought their notes back with them and were rarely re-used. This application was an attempt to gather all the information in one place, shared but secure and stored digitally.

The app was explained in a GTEC keynote by Tom Jenkins, Chief Strategy Officer for the Waterloo-based OpenText and partner with Canadian Digital Media Network.

“It seems obvious, but this isn’t how international meetings work,” he said.

The application was up and running six months prior to the summit, running on Blackberry, Android and iPad platforms.

This was just one of Jenkin’s examples of the government getting information digitized to be more productive.

He points to the Library and Archives of Canada as one place that desperately needs to start digitizing records if they want “digital natives” (those born after 1980) to access them.

“If you don’t make the info available to digital natives, you might as well throw it out,” he said.

Jenkins also suggested other changes, like replacing 600 page manuals that need to be translated with short online videos demonstrating processes step-by-step.

He pointed to the G20 social network as a successful example of digitizing the old ways of working.

“[Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade] could have done it the same way as always, but instead they had the courage to make the change and saved an enormous amount of time,” he said.