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In 2008 the “Civil Servant 2.0” project started in the Netherlands. This is a Dutch platform and network for civil servants and civilians to discuss the effect that “web 2.0” has on government and the public sector and to support initiatives and experiments to improve the work of the Dutch government.

What is Pleio?
One of the most interesting outcomes is the digital workplace Pleio (“Government Square”). This is a collaboration platform accessible for civil servants and others. It is built on open source software to have flexibility in functionality, exchange developed functionalities with the community, and to enable data storage in the Netherlands.
This means that the Dutch government is breaking down silo’s, limiting reinventing wheels, re-using software and therefore reducing costs.

Personal Dashboard with latest updates

What can you do on Pleio?
On Pleio one can form groups to collaborate, share documents (including pictures and video), share status updates, write blogs and wikis, manage agendas, create subsites, manage your profile, connect with other people and send them messages etc. This can be done within a governmental organization (e.g. a city council), across organizations (e.g. a project team), as well as with external partners and civilians.
When you enter Pleio, you will see your own dashboard with updates, files, events, blogs and more. You can personalize your homepage to make it your own workplace.


Gallery of several subsites on Pleio

Replacing existing intranets
The subsites can be customized and used as an intranet. Some departments have already shut down their own intranet, and are now using Pleio as their only internal platform. This is a monumental change, not only for employees who have to get used to another platform but especially for the intranet managers, who have to let go of their own, in-house, custom-designed and strictly managed tool and now have to “make do” with a shared platform.

That is not as bad as it sounds.  There is plenty of user-friendly functionality and new functionality can be requested or developed as long as it is of interest to a large audience or you have a budget. Pleio is still in development, e.g. videoconferencing facilities are being investigated as we write.

Facts and Figures
Pleio consists of various open-source cloud software elements, such as Elgg, Moodle and Etherpad. The platform was officially launched in 2010. At this moment, 15.000 civil servants and partners have created an account. There are already 750 collaboration groups and 200 subsites.  Target is 150,000 active users by January 2013. 

A team of 4 initiators is responsible for Pleio. Next to that, there are various civil servants volunteering on help, communication, technology etc. There are no paid resources for communication and increasing adoption, so it is necessary to find creative solutions, using existing networks and helpful people to spread the message. 

International expansion
Already some organizations from the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium are using the platform. The German government is interested in a similar initiative.

Learn more
Are you working for a government organization and would you like to know more? Please contact Davied van Berlo (Mr. Civil Servant 2.0 himself) on LinkedIn or Twitter (@davied) to learn from his experiences.
More information (in English) on the Civil Servant 2.0 project and on Pleio.


This is a guest post by Ellen van Aken. Ellen is an IBF associate who has experience in many aspects of intranet management. She has been responsible for intranet adoption at Sara Lee.


About the author

Ellen van AkenEllen van Aken is a DWG associate with more than 12 years of experience in various aspects of intranet/SharePoint management in multinational companies (Sara Lee and AkzoNobel).

Her favourite digital workplace topics are language and labelling, content housekeeping and streamlining work processes without sending documents via email.

When not online she likes reading, hiking and going to a play or concert.

Connect with Ellen on Twitter: @EllenvanAken or Google +.

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