Carleton University Student Blog Series: Engaged Youth? Let's Talk

Carleton University undergraduate students in Ottawa, Canada, are studying the link between communication and open government. In the class, the students examine how communication can be used to improve governance and to foster a more collaborative relationship between governments and citizens. This series of blog posts is related to a range of topics concerning the issues that challenge open government in Canada and around the world.

A response to "Youth and the use of Open Data: allow creativity to flourish"

What has been done?


In 2017 the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat teamed up with the Global Shapers community, a network of young people driving change, to address issues the federal public service is facing, including youth engagement in open government. These participants were asked to define the needs of young people in regards to open government data. The Global Shapers proposed many compelling ideas for how to engage youth, including focusing on user needs, offering promising future work within open government and building knowledge around open data .

Today’s youth are the future – they are some of the most fresh, dynamic and collaborative individuals. Young people’s understanding and involvement with public consultation and engagement in open government is vital for a progressive democracy and to the understanding of open data.

Youth and Social Media

 

When it comes to engaging youth, social media is the platform to start. It allows for a wider reach, therefore tapping into participation, accessibility, and inclusivity. Youth need visualization, youth need the space to be creative, and youth need direction to become the leaders of tomorrow.

The Global Shapers suggested to present data as simplified visualizations, with access to additional data for individuals wishing to further pursue their analysis. This could be done through online polls on Twitter, for example, where the questions or information is provided. Twitter is a hub for community engagement because it provides a space for ideas, fast communication and conversation threads. Global Shapers also suggests to promote career opportunities in open government on social media, as young people often use social media to network and job hunt. This would provide the space to network as well as an incentive to learn more about OGP and open data.

A Step in the Right Direction

 

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat made a step in the right direction engaging with the youth of Global Shapers in 2017. However, Open Government Partnership needs to look forward to using these ideas to engage the average Canadian young person who may not be aware of OGP. In order for OGP to achieve its goal to open innovation, participation, transparency and accessibility amongst youth, they need to recognize the importance of a young person's voice and seek out their participation.There is value in participation; The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat can use this mechanism to get to know the public and develop an effective communication strategy through consultation. Getting youth to participate and engage with open government will lead to positive results. With better policy, better engagement and inclusion, renewed trust in Government and, therefore, a better democracy.

 
Authors: Malika Hamilton