Communicating change and tech disruption to citizens

A few months ago, I delivered a talk at the 2018 FWD50 Conference on the topic of “Communicating Change and Tech Disruption to Citizens”.  The official description was as follows:

“Your role as communications and policy professionals in the public sector is growing with the need to improve transparency and accessibility, promote new and expanded digital services, safeguard reputation, and maintain public confidence. This session will explore the current state of global trust in technology and provide participants with possible approaches towards better communicating the value and importance of change and technology disruption, especially if it can lead to improved service delivery. Participants will be introduced to a social marketing/ behaviour change framework, which aims to move beyond “awareness building” and into attitude and behaviour change.”

I have posted my deck on SlideShare and embedded it below as well.

This is an important topic of interest for me, especially as a father of three young children.  I don’t think our public sector is doing nearly enough to communicate and prepare society for the disruption that is going to occur over the coming decade as well as all the resulting negative side effects, which are already occurring (job loss to automation, mental health issues due to social media/smartphone addiction, fakenews, death of privacy,  unethical algorithms, rights of robots, etc.) These are BIG topics that will require full transparency in this age of misinformation.

I feel that the internet/smartphone related mental health topics, in particular, need a greater push from government. Large familiar corporations such as Google and Apple have begun to pre-install “digital wellbeing” apps on their new devices and essentially shame people if they are using their devices too much. Technologically advanced countries such as South Korea have treatment centres for internet addicts and even public service announcements on this topic.  Where is our government? What is its role in all of this?

As stated on the last slide of my presentation, true social marketing is a powerful process that should be selfless and have the best interests of the audience in mind. There is a tremendous opportunity for the government to build trust by being more open and transparent about what behaviours it is trying to influence and why when it comes to communicating tech disruption. We have so many “open” initiatives in the Government of Canada, why not begin to have more “open marketing/communications” initiatives by sharing the research, strategies, and results behind them?

Now that’s a radical topic I’d like to explore.

 

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