Analyst firm Gartner has warned that governments need to step up their commitment to social networks.
Gartner argued that, by not employing social networks, governments are missing opportunities to tap into societal resources, such as voluntary groups, philanthropists and associations.
Andrea Di Maio, author of the report, gave the example of a case manager in human services responsible for identifying clients in need through outreach or referral.
"In the future, he or she will be part of a more complex socio-ecosystem, including a voluntary sector, online communities and individuals who play a fundamental role through all the different phases," he said.
"Their role will shift from managing a case to ensuring that community resources are complemented where needed."
The report predicted that, by 2011, 70 per cent of social computing deployments in government that achieve business benefits will do so in unplanned ways.
Di Maio advised governments to select a number of employees who look for social networks relevant to their domain of government.
The analyst gave the example of Netmums, a social network that allows parents to collaborate over child-care issues, as a successful project set up independently.
Di Maio added that social networks are a good project for governments to focus on as the economic crisis deepens.
The networks require little investment to start and will help people looking for peer and government support when times are tough, he said.
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