Taking flight — and fixing it

The other day, I wrote about how I’d like to see airplane flights become social economies as a way to improve and add value to the now-tortured experience. Of course, much of the hassle of flying is in the unfortunately necessary security gauntlet, and others are talking about how to improve that — including the security people running it.

Anthony Williams of Wikinomics points us to an article in FCW describing a successful effort to gather ideas and information from Transportation Security Administration employees through a closed wiki. Williams regrets that we passengers can’t join in and I think he’s right. There’s are obvious reasons why the TSA wiki is closed — namely, security and secrets — but they’d be wise to create a parallel wiki and forum where we, the passengers, could give our ideas and where the TSA people can try out theirs on us.

In the FCW article, Jennifer Dorn, CEO of the National Academy of Public Administration, talks about “rebooting the public square” this way. In a speech, she tells about hearing of the TSA initiative from Kip Hawley, its assistant secretary:

After a great dinner and stimulating conversation, Hawley leaned over and, in a tone reminiscent of the famous scene in the movie “The Graduate,” said, “Jenna, I want to say one word to you. Just one word.”

“Yes?” I said.

“Are you listening?”

“Yes, I am,” I replied.

“Wiki.” . . .

TSA’s Idea Factory is a secure intranet, restricted to registered users inside the agency. It has become an instant hit. Airport TSOs now share ideas for improving their workplace environment and strategies for making the traveling public more secure. Within a week of its launch, TSA employees had submitted more than 150 ideas, offered more than 650 comments and voted on ideas more than 800 times.

Dorn realizes that this is about more than improving airport security. This is about improving government.

Today, we at the academy are convinced that collaborative technology has the potential to transform government in America, to tap into the expertise of people outside the hierarchy of any single agency or department, to make government more transparent, and to open the door to a broader array of experts focused on solving a particular problem or to citizens who want to contribute to making government work better. . . .

As a public administrator, I believe that the real power of collaborative technology extends far beyond the practical solutions that I’ve outlined. It is more than a new capability. It enables an entirely new way of thinking about the everyday management challenges of government. The real power of collaborative technology lies in its promise for bringing citizens back to the public square to re-engage them in the work of government and solving the problems of America and the world.

: Back to improving airlines and airports. Brad Templeton, chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is filled with ideas. Found via the Lufthansa discussion, where I’ve not been able to post my comment.

  • Vee

    Great points on ….. Talking flight; but frankly everything around these days, in terms of service to customers are in a melt-down. Nothing works, the customer is devalued and out of frustration the complaints stop.

    The recent Bill of Rights, for customers, following the Jet Blue situation, is encouraging, but I would not hold my breath that anything meaninful, will come out of this.


  • Anna Haynes

    This ‘now-tortured experience’ will become, or should become, moot. Airline travelers, please do so with awareness of the consequences – read Monbiot’s On the flight path to global meltdown (“Thinking like ethical people makes not a damn of difference unless we also behave like ethical people. When it comes to flying, there seems to be no connection between intention and action. …”)

    as for the “ideas wiki” – agreed, it’s a great idea, within a closed society like a company, and/or where someone ‘owns’ and gardens it. The ‘open-to-the-public suggestion box’ has been tried before – the Halfbakery and other Ideas banks – maybe they’re too general, but imo you need some pretty good, painless way to do filtering/ranking to ensure that the best ideas will be the most prominent.

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