The chapter examines the IntelCities Community of Practice (CoP) supporting the development of the organization’s e-Learning platform, knowledge management system (KMS) and digital library for eGov services. It begins by outlining the IntelCities CoP and goes on to set out the integrated model of electronically enhanced government (eGov) services developed by the CoP to meet the front-end needs, middleware requirements and back-office commitments of the IntelCities e-Learning platform, KMS and digital library. The chapter goes on to examine the information technology (IT) adopted by the CoP to develop the IntelCities e-Learning platform, KMS and digital library as a set of semanticallyinteroperable eGov services supporting the crime, safety and security initiatives of socially-inclusive and participatory urban regeneration programs.
The IntelCities CoP is made up of research institutes, information, communication and technology (ICT) companies and cities, all collaborating with one another and reaching consensus on how to develop integrated models of eGov services. Made up of researchers, computer engineers, informational managers and service providers, the IntelCities CoP has worked to develop an integrated model of eGov services and support the actions taken by cities to host them on platforms (in this instance something known as the eCity platform) with sufficient intelligence to meet the e-learning needs, knowledge transfer requirements and capacity building commitments of socially-inclusive and participatory urban regeneration programs (Deakin and Allwinkle, 2006).
As an exercise in CoP development, the organization is particularly successful for the reason the intelligence it has sought to embed in cities and integrate within their platforms of eGov services, is inter-organizational, networked, virtual and managed as part of a highly-distributed web-based learning environment. If we quickly review the legacy of CoPs in organizational studies, the value of developing such a learning environment should become clear. For as the literature indicates, CoPs are an emergent property of organizations and the challenges they pose for those seeking to exploit their potential in such learning environments is considerable.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Capacity Building: Refers to assistance which is provided to organizations which have a need to develop a certain skill or competence, or a general upgrading of performance ability. Most capacity is built by societies themselves, sometimes in the public, sometimes in the non-governmental and sometimes in the private sector. They are activities which strengthen the knowledge, abilities, skills and behaviour of individuals and improve institutional structures and processes such that an organization can efficiently meet its mission and goals in a sustainable way.
Middleware: The enabling technology. It functions as a piece of software that connects two or more applications, allowing them to exchange data. It is computer software that connects software components or applications. The software consists of a set of enabling services that allow multiple processes running on one or more machines to interact across a network. This technology evolved to provide for interoperability in support of the move to coherent distributed architectures, which are used most often to support and simplify complex, distributed applications. It is especially integral to modern information technology based on XML, SOAP, Web services, and service-oriented architecture.
Open Source Software: Computer software for which the human-readable source code is made available under a copyright license, or arrangement This permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form. It is often developed in a public, collaborative manner.
E-Learning: A general term used to refer to a form of learning in which the instructor and student are separated by space or time where the gap between the two is bridged through the use of online technologies. The term is used interchangeably in a wide variety of contexts and can be used to define a specific mode to attend a course or programmes of study where learners rarely, if ever, attend face-to-face contact, or rely upon such direct support.
Community Of Practice: Groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they regularly interact with one another as knowing subjects.
E-Government Services: Internet technologies that act as a platform for exchanging information, providing services and transacting with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government. Such e-Government services include pushing information over the Internet, e.g: regulatory services, general holidays, public hearing schedules, issue briefs, notifications, etc., and two-way communications between the agency and the citizen, a business, or another government agency. In this model, users can engage in dialogue with agencies and post problems, comments, or requests to the agency. Conducting transactions, e.g: lodging tax returns, applying for services and grants, Governance, e.g: online polling, voting, and campaigning. The most important anticipated benefits of e-government include improved efficiency, convenience, and better accessibility of public services.
Knowledge Transfer: The practical problem of transferring knowledge from one part of the organization to another (or all other) parts of the organization. It seeks to organize, create, capture or distribute knowledge and ensure its availability for future users. It is considered to be more than just a communication problem and more complex because knowledge resides in organizational members, tools, tasks, and their sub-networks and much of the knowledge organizations have is tacit or hard to articulate in direct communication.
Virtual Organization: A collection of individuals, companies or organizations who have agreed to work together and use the ICTs as the main tools to enable, maintain and sustain member relationships in distributed work environments.
Digital Library: A library in which collections are stored in digital formats (as opposed to print, microform, or other media) and is accessible by computers. The digital content may be stored locally, or accessed remotely via computer networks. The terms is diffuse enough to be applied to a wide range of collections and organizations, but, to be considered a digital library, an online collection of information must be managed by and made accessible to a community of users. Some web sites can be considered digital libraries, but they may not offer such functionality.
Semantic-Interoperability: The ability of two or more systems or components to exchange or harmonize cognate subject vocabularies and/or knowledge organization schemes to be used for the purpose of effective and efficient resource discovery without significant loss of lexical or connotative meaning and without special effort by the user.