What is public information systems?
Public information systems are information systems which are available for public use. This can be in both private and public sector.
Bo Sundgren of Mid Sweden University has authored a research paper bearing the same title as the title of this blog article. This paper is going to be on focus. It was published on the International Journal of Public Information Systems.
Sundgren argues that there are three generations of public information systems:
- information packaging systems– there is limited sharing of data;
- information retrieval systems – there is sharing of data but not the processes;
- Information processing systems – involves maximum sharing of processes and data;
Examples of public information systems
- Airline reservation systems
- Automated bank tellers (ATMs);
- Library check out systems;
- Telecommunication systems – Safaricom, airtel and Telkom in Kenya among others;
Scholars such as Bozeman (1987) argues that all organizations are public. This is a good argument considering there some private sector which offer public services using public information systems.
For instance, JamboPay is a private company whose information system was being used by Nairobi County to collect revenues in an automated manner. Hence according to Bozeman, this is also a public organization considering the important role it played for the public.
News media such as websites owned by bloggers as well as various media houses are classified by scholars as being public information systems. Why? because websites such as www.kerosi.com offer information to the members of the general public, we question the wisdom of the policies made by leaders in the society and finally we advocate for interests of the citizens.
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There are three main levels of solutions provided by public information systems. These are: provision of information, services and technical solutions.
Under this classification of information systems, we have libraries, websites and geographical databases. For instance while Kerosi Dotcom is a leading blog for news on economics, sports, business and technology other companies such as Google Inc has a product called Google Maps whose main role is to provide directions for the general public. This means that behind the product there is a huge database which makes our life easier.
In respect to services, public information systems are widely used to offer services such as ticketing for airline companies, medical services, online tutoring, trading and entertainment services. This is quite straight forward. If you are a Kenyan or a foreigner who has stayed in the country you may have already used services such as iTax to make tax returns or e-citizen to apply for renewal of your driving licenses or TIMS to transfer motor vehicle ownership among others to access government services.
Public Information systems are used to offer technical solutions such as computer equipment, application software, Operating Systems (OS), internet, communication systems and intranet solutions among others.
Think of Mpesa mobile money transfer services which gained its current popularity.
There are numerous actors who make public information systems a success. The citizens of a society are key in the success of these systems.
It is important to note that there are some professionals who are considered to be ‘advocates’ of the society. For instance, politicians, researchers and journalists.
The actors are classified into three broad categories: private people, private firms and government agencies. All the three interact among each other. For instance businesses/firms provide services, citizens participate in various processes and government provide a conducive environment and provide efficient services.