Pretty soon, you might be accepting a “colleague request” from the Government of Canada. The federal government has launched a digital networking platform called GCcollab.ca, a site it’s pitching as an easy way for academics and students to connect and collaborate with Canada’s public service.
The website is built off GCconnex, an open-source communication platform government employees have been using internally for about six years. The new site includes a space for creating LinkedIn-like profiles, a Facebook-ish newsfeed, and an events calendar. Like its predecessor, GCcollab’s backbone is its Groups function, says Jeff Outram, the lead analyst overseeing GCcollab for the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
The Groups feature enables registered users to move away from group email chains by creating and joining common interest groups – open or private – where members can post comments and discussion points, ask questions and request feedback, and share digital resources.
According to Mr. Outram, this “innovation project” encourages informal networking between the public service and government stakeholders. In a pilot stage last September, GCcollab was opened to users at no more than five institutions to support partnerships between researchers at these schools and federal employees. Demand grew and within a month, the tool was made available to academics and students at all universities and colleges. More recently, it’s been made accessible to public servants at the provincial and territorial levels.
As of December 2016, nearly 300 of the platform’s 800 registered users were from academia.