In the past, the benefits of mass collaboration (to me) seemed to be limited to commercial businesses trying to improve their profit margins. The company would get feedback on their products then make changes in hopes of increasing sales. I really didn’t see how government could collaborate with the general public, at least I didn’t recognize any benefits by allowing that collaboration. My position wasn’t formed without merit; most of the “collaboration” I’ve seen is related to the public appealing our decisions. Even when we brought the public into the decision making process before we made the decision, it only allowed those parties to have more information they could use in their appeal.
However, I decided to take a look at what efforts a government agency and the public might collaborate on. Working for an environmental regulatory agency, I knew there wouldn’t be too many areas until I considered emerging technologies.
I work with several contractors who have created, and patented, a variety of different pollution removing technologies. The problem is that none of these technologies are allowed to be used on site until we approve their use. This is done to limit the amount of ineffective solutions regulated site might relying on to reduce their pollutant loads.
Looking at the various technologies, some of them were very similar so, if we have an existing, approved technology that is more effective, we deny the submittal. In effect, we have a lot of people recreating the wheel instead of collaborating because we don’t have an effective mechanism to share what has been approved.
We should have a database of approved technologies, what pollutant and medium they’re approved for, our research methods, and any other potential pollutants which might be reduced but require more research. That way, we could create a collaborative community between not only our staff and consultants but also between the consultants themselves.