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ExpertNet seeks to map expertise in Buenos Aires

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ExpertNet seeks to map expertise in Buenos Aires

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Understanding the knowledge and talent we have at our disposal is pretty fundamental to the operation of most organisations, and none more so than governments.  It’s interesting therefore to read about a new project currently underway that sees GovLab team up with Buenos Aires to try and understand better the expertise within the government of the city.

The project, known as ExpertNet aims to delve beneath the official job titles and descriptions employees are garnered with and look instead at the expertise and knowledge they have.

The project will be building upon earlier work conducted with the White House Open Government Initiative where a platform was designed to enable people to share their skills and expertise.  The aim was jointly to 1) enable government officials to circulate notice of opportunities to participate in public consultations to members of the public with expertise on a topic; and 2) provides those volunteer experts with a mechanism to provide useful, relevant and manageable feedback back to government officials.

The partnership with Buenos Aires sees the focus of the project shift away from the general public and towards employees within city governments.  The central goal remains the same however, the creation of a purpose-built question-asking tool that will enable government employees to tap dormant, existing expertise to help solve problems.

The project aims to understand:

  1. what kinds of expertise are most helpful to identify;
  2. what are the best ways to collect that information;
  3. how expertise impacts people’s willingness to collaborate;
  4. whether identifying employee expertise helps cities to be more effective at solving problems; and
  5. the resulting impact on citizen and employee perceptions.

The first phase of the project will rely on employees self-reporting their expertise, with project managers subsequently gaining an understanding of both the kind of information people supply and their willingness to collaborate.  Whilst this initial phase will be run in two cities, it’s hoped that eventually the project will expand to multiple cities, with all employees linked via a central database of searchable expertise, before potentially widening the search to include external people via sites such as LinkedIn.

It’s certainly an interesting project, and I suspect its success will depend largely on how successful it is in integrating ExpertNet with the often proprietary HR systems used internally by city governments.  This is the final stage of the ambitious project, but arguably the most important.

You can find out more about the project here.

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