Digital technology in public service: can IT advance democracy?

Yu-Che Chen and Michael J. Ahn offer a bird’s-eye view of digital technology in public service in the Routledge Handbook on Information Technology in Government.

Contributions from leading researchers explore the emerging social, political, and technological landscape of digital government. 

Taking a comprehensive view, the Handbook taps into national and international case studies. For instance, it reveals insights for US digital privacy regulations drawn from European Union practices. It aligns new media platforms with different types of communication and information needs in service delivery. And, it demonstrates how real-time data can help improve public service performance.

Highlighting innovative practices, the volume analyses the complex challenges that accompany digital adoption. It identifies five key themes of digital technology in public service:

IT innovations in government

Introducing ways of looking at the role of new technology in government, this theme delves into changing relationships between citizen and government, considerations for governance in an information society, frameworks for collaboration, and system dynamics in problem-solving and policy.   

Emerging technologies and their applications in government

International case studies illustrate the implications and potential of big data, mobile applications, and the Internet of Things.

Technology-enabled cross-boundary collaboration and governance

Exploring the new interactive and collaborative relationships between citizen and government, this theme includes questions around trust in government, social media, citizen engagement, and digital engagement.

Advancement of democratic accountability and public values

Addressing issues around transparency, privacy, and citizen participation, this theme draws insights on e-participation and regulation in the US context, open data, and local government.

Advancement of public service through technological innovation

Focused on management and governance, this theme includes international perspectives on smart cities, new media and digital infrastructure in service delivery.

Combining research on new media and government in the digital age, the compilation speaks to a spectrum of issues of relevance to scholars and practitioners alike.

Yu-Che Chen is Associate Professor of Digital Governance in the School of Public Administration and Director at the Global Digital Governance Lab, University of Nebraska at Omaha. Michael J. Ahn is Associate Professor, Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs, McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston.  

Photo: ITU Pictures/Flickr/cc

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