Developing a scoping study for

We're very excited that Vquence and Jimi Bostock have together managed to snap one of the round two projects of the Australian Gov 2.0 Taskforce and that the project has a huge video focus - something that has (for valid reasons and yet disappointingly so) largely been treated as a side issue in Gov 2.0.

The project is about providing a scoping study for the potential of a site - something that we have promoted over the whole life of the Gov 2.0 Taskforce, since we see an enormous potential for online communication and engagement with the public through such a site. Also check out our blog post on the Gov 2.0 Taskforce Website .

Aside from the obvious advantages to the public, the idea is also to enable government agencies to be offered a technology solution for publishing video that is simple, solves the technical (bandwidth, reliability, scalability, player skinning etc) issues, and empowers them to publish more with less hassle. At the same time it should probably not force agencies to use a centralised solution, but only provide an optional service to them. If the service offers enough advantages, it will become popular all by itself.

But let's not jump to early conclusions: The first step in our work will be to analyse existing best practices in Australian and international government agencies and other organisations of a similar size.

Over the years we have seen many examples of video being used for news, educational purposes, marketing, documentation purposes, or simply to share great content. There is scope to publish old content, but even more potential with a continuous integration of video recordings and a video publications process with new activities.

Technical solutions for publishing video can range from:

  • creating the video player, hosting and video content management all from scratch,
  • using open source components for the video content management systems and the video player,
  • using hosted solutions provided by commercial entities,
  • to using social video networks for free or a small fee.

Often, we have seen organisations use more than one means of publishing video - a site-internal solution for the organisation and one or more social networking solutions to get the message out more easily. Different types of videos also lend themselves to different styles of publication - some are more prone to pick up attention on social networks than others.

Coming up with a recommendation that will suit all government agencies - from the small to the large - and still provide a central location at for citizens to go to and find government video is our challenge.

It will likely involve some kind of centralised hosting as well as feed aggregation. The latter is necessary to identify video hosted within social networks or by agencies themselves and is an interesting approach to mashing up.

The normalisation of meta data across different hosting solutions will likely be a challenge for a centralised solution, with centralised search being the one huge advantage over non-aggregated content.

In addition, a centralised can allow further engagement with the videos to happen then and there: comments, ratings, sharing on Facebook and Twitter, linking to other relevant videos are all things that are difficult to realise on distributed video.

Another huge opportunity is the creation of a centralised solution for accessibility: not just captions and subtitles, but also textual audio descriptions for the vision-impaired can be provided in a standard manner. This can be provided for centrally hosted or distributed video in the same manner. The ability to crowd source all this extra effort or find an automated solution has huge potential. Not to forget that such text will enable improved and deeper search, allowing to directly point to offsets in videos that are relevant to particular citizens.

Finally we should not forget that a centralised solution can also enable the consistent collection of statistics and monitoring of videos. Frequent reporting on the success of videos is a key enabler to determine the impact and success of the effort spent in this still very new field of public communication and engagement.

These are just some of our initial ideas about what we need to analyse as part of the scoping study.

Have we forgotten any aspects that you care about? Anything concerns you have about the scope of a Anything that we should really look at when analysing existing best practice?

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