SETTING UP TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION CHANNELS, FAVOURING DIALOGUE, INCLUSIVENESS AND TRANSPARENCYMany observers conclude that the declining confidence in the value of the traditional instruments of representative democracy, as evidenced by the low and declining voter turnout rates in elections, demonstrates the high levels of citizens’ apathy. But voter apathy is partly a result of antiquated government practices, because a closer look at the increasing levels of mobilization online and on social networking websites reveals that civic participation has not died – but it has evolved in a form which politicians are not accustomed to.
One way to change this trend is to provide decision-makers with the tools to engage interact and listen to what people really want.
- AFRICA 4 ALLGov2u has set up an online platform equipped with innovative e-participation tools to facilitate the online dialogue between citizens and their government, to overcome trust and communication deficits.The initiative also provides a single collaborative space, where the representatives from all five countries can interact with one another and share best practices, thereby fostering inter-state legislative collaboration.
- USPEAKGov2u developed U-speak as a standalone component, which provides to citizens the means to report and comment virtually on anything which affects them in their physical environment, from damages in public infrastructure, unwarranted obstacles, or hazardous spots in their area.
Once logged in, citizens just need to locate their position on the online map, they may upload a picture and start voicing their concerns! Other citizens have the opportunity to submit comments too, and allocate a degree of importance to it.
- USPEAK UgandaIn Uganda, Gov2u in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute, sought to integrate the U-Speak component into the website of the National Assembly. The aim of this system is to bridge the two-way information gap by facilitating communication between MPs and Constituents.
U-Speak Uganda enables constituents in Uganda to communicate directly with their elected representatives via SMS or simply by leaving a voicemail. The messages are automatically re-routed on a semantic-enabled platform which scans, analyses and categorizes each message according to its policy category, and aggregates it on a map, accessible through the personal dashboard of each representative.
U-speak Uganda makes the work of decision-makers more efficient and aligned with citizen priorities, thereby improving responsiveness and service delivery, through the use of state of ICT systems.
- WEGOVWeGov redirects politicians where the debates are actually taking place: online social networks.
The platform enables policy-makers to take full advantages of a wide range of well established social networking sites and engage citizens in two-way dialogs on specific policy oriented topics. By detecting, tracking and mining opinions and discussions, elected representatives can make full use of the rich discussions present in existing social networking communities to carry out their representative functions more effectively. In this way, WeGov provides the tools and techniques to encourage public deliberation and foster collective decision-making, thereby closing the loop between citizens and elected representative.
- eCONSENSUSWithin the eConsensus project, Gov2u set up a single portal which provides access to 42 municipal sites in Catalonia, including city councils, citizens and local associations, in the objective of improving communication between councils and the citizens they serve; fostering public consultation over the Internet; and providing virtual forums to help citizens organize communities of interest and participate more effectively and constructively in public life.
It also comprises an e-voting function, as well as a dedicated citizen community space where citizens can create their own page, select different participation and interactive tools, enabling others to consult the documents they post, deliberate and collaborate on anything of concern.
- MyUniversityThis project started in October 2010 with the aim to provide an online platform through which university members and stakeholders can communicate effectively and interact in order to achieve close cooperation, transparency and focus on EU higher education.
Gov2u designed and provided the online platforms to the 14 participating Universities from Bulgaria, Lithuania, Spain, Slovakia and Sweden, as a tool of participation in decision-making, both locally and at European level. By the end of the project in the spring of 2013, a super EU level portal will have been constructed and tested and will include content from all the university eParticipation portals, along with its own independent content.
INTERACTION AND COLLABORATION MAKES GOVERNMENTS MORE AGILE, EFFICIENT AND RESPONSIVEPoliticians and officials are not necessarily in a position to develop the most effective policies; and in any evidence based decision making, we believe that solutions emerge from the participation of many, not by central planning. Listening and empowering local citizens, provides a means for improving the quality of services and enables administrations to develop policies that are more effective by incorporating valuable local knowledge and innovative ideas into final decisions.This is particularly vital in times of economic downturn, where governments are required to do more with less.
But constructive participation should not be limited to a choice between sets of propositions formulated by the government. There is a need to seek active citizen endorsement rather than acquiescence, as it results in decisions which are legitimate to the eyes of the broad public; it encourages acceptance and creates a sense of ownership, and will significantly reduce the propensity for conflict occurring in the long term. As such policy formation should be deferred directly to civil society itself, and enable citizens to select the outcome of a complex and mechanism of direct and indirect interactions involving all stakeholders, and at all levels. Such collaboration represents a new governance model, one that is governed from the bottom up, bringing citizens’ ideas and priorities directly into the process of governance,and putting citizens back at the heart of service delivery. Only this will make for a system of governance that is truly agile, transparent, legitimate and responsive.
Inter-regional collaborations: U@MARENOSTRUMEquipped with advanced e-participation tools such as forums, letters to officials, instant polling and geographic information systems (GIS), U@MARENOSTRUM facilitates such interactive processes, by letting the public report, discuss and rank issues related to the management of water resources and marine environmental protection in three Mediterranean regions. This e-Governance initiative was conceived to broaden the network of citizens who involve themselves in policy formation and directly provides citizens and stakeholders with the means to share their ideas and expertise in order to generate sustainable and effective solutions.
U@MareNostrum assists policy makers and service administrators in detecting the areas of primary concern to public and to streamline service delivery accordingly. Such platforms have the unique potential to improve government efficiency, foster interregional cooperation and encourage partnerships between the public sector, civil society and private organizations.
At the National Level: ACAPARTICIPACIOACAPARTICIPACIO is an online platform which uses our award-wining Gov2demOSS, where citizens, NGOs, companies and governments representatives from the region of Catalonia meet, in order to share knowledge, ideas, and suggestions related to themanagement of the Catalan rivers system andwater basins. The initiative is an innovative and efficient method to administer regional water management and planning, ensuring that both citizens’ and specialists’ concerns and suggestions are taken into consideration. It is a process unique in its kind because it gives public authorities the opportunity to break down traditional power structures and start filtering ideas and policy input based on value rather than origin, thereby making government actions rich, efficient, sustainable and above all,democratic.
For Municipal decision-making: GOV2DEMOSSEquipped with advanced interactive and participation functions, including forums, polls, calendar of events and geospatial information systems, wikis; Gov2demoSS enables citizens to directly define the content, shape and direction of municipal policies. By combining service provision functions and facilities for voluntary, community and business organizations Gov2demOSS greatly enhances social capital in local communities and strengthens knowledge and civic commitment, allthrough a single web-based geographical interface.
Below are some of the municipalities which have adopted Gov2demOSS as the new way to interact and engage with citizens.
- The City of Lausanne - CH
- The Government of Aragon - ES
- The Municipality of Agios Stefanos - GR
- The Municipality of Tegea - GR
- The Region of Amposta - ES
- The Upper Kirby District, Texas - USA
IMPROVING eSERVICES TO SPEED UP OUR TRANSITION TO A KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY
- eREPRESENTATIVEeRepresentative was a research and development project that created a virtual desktop to support the mobile elected Representative. The project was co-funded under the IST Programme by the European Commission.
The eRepresentative project started in February 2006 and ended in May 2008. It involved representatives, civil servants and other stakeholders in five European Parliaments and Assemblies.
PROMOTING DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES TO INCREASE CIVIC PARTICIPATION
- ECI - LINKSince 1 April 2012, European citizens have for the first time in history a real possibility to influence the EU decision making process with a new agenda setting tool – the European Citizens' Initiative.
ECI Link is a common project with five European partners that reflects on different challenges attached to the regulation on the Citizens' Initiatives from the legal, campaigning and technical perspective.
Supported by the European Commission in its Europe for Citizens Programme, the project will hold information sessions in Barcelona, Paris, Vienna and Brussels which will then be followed by the creation of an on-line training tool, in the form of an e-learning material, for the purposes of wider outreach.
- QUESTAO PUBLICAQuestao Publica is an online platform which Gov2u set up in the months running up to the elections for of the Federal Senate in Brazil. Both voters and candidates were encouraged to answer a questionnaire consisting of 35 affirmations, carefully formulated by political scientists and members of civil society to reflect the topics debated within society at the time of elections. Citizens could then compare their views with those of the candidates as a way to become better acquainted with the different political actors and to make more informed decisions when casting their ballot.
- UCOUNT4EUThe Ucount4eu campaign was a Gov2u-led initiative designed to rally European citizens from all member states of the Union in the months running up to the 2009 European Parliament elections. It was conceived in the goal of informing citizens of the importance of the European electoral process by demonstrating how Parliamentary decisions affect their daily lives at the national, European and international levels. Most importantly, the initiative provided citizens with the means to contribute to the debate by voicing their concerns and issues.
- GENDER EQUALITY IN KARDITSA
"Electronic mobilization of NGOs and local authorities’ for more gender equality in Karditsa" was a Gov2u-led campaign in cooperation with the local authorities and the development agency of Karditsa (ANKA SA), seeking to explore the potential of ICT in strengthening local initiatives directed at promoting equal opportunity and cooperation between civil society and the local authorities. A customized and dedicated version of our Gov2DemOSS Platform was created for the project.
PROMOTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF eIDENTITY-DRIVEN SERVICES WHILST ENSURING THAT USERS’ PRIVACY IS SUFFICIENTLY PROTECTEDElectronic identity increasingly assumes a central place in the everyday lives of citizens in Europe and around the world. Whilst promising to bring huge benefits to the achievement of large-scale provision of e-Services, e-Identity continues to present challenges and concerns regarding citizens’ privacy and security in online transactions.
- GINI-SAThe project name, GINI-SA, is an abbreviation of "Global Identity Networking of Individuals - Support Action". GINI-SA , is a EC-backed research project on e-Identity applications. The project investigates and establishes the foundations for the architectural, legal, regulatory requirements, as well as the provisioning and privacy enhancing aspects, of a framework of user-centric identity management services. It works towards the vision of a Personal Identity Management (PIM) environment where individuals (i.e. citizens, consumers, users of any related services) will be able to manage their own identity data (Individual Digital Identity – INDI) and provide it in an open and flexible manner in a multitude of online transactions in areas like health services, citizen-to-business (C2B), citizen-to-citizen (C2C), whilst enjoying the full privacy protection and privacy enhancement provisions.
At the end of the project, a white paper will be issued, with policy recommendations for the national and the EU level policymakers, on the way forward in order to create the institutional framework (legal, regulatory requirements, provisioning and privacy enhancing aspects) necessary for the operation of e-Identity environments.
GINI was launched in June 2010.
- STORK – Secure idenTity acrOss boRders linKedWhen accessing e-Services, citizens need to send sensitive information on the net. Currently, different services, in different countries, means that it is very difficult, and unsafe, to share sensitive personal information, which greatly restricts the scope of eServices outside abroad, and means that people need to be physically present when changing address, or get a tax refund.
The goal of the STORK project is to establish a European eID Interoperability Platform that will allow citizens to establish new e-relations across borders, just by presenting their national eID.
This way, citizens should be able to start a company, transfer their medical records, or obtain their university papers simply by entering their personal data using a national e-ID, and the STORK platform will obtain the required guarantee (authentication) directly from the Member-States national authorities.
- STORK 2.0 projectSTORK 2.0 (Secure idenTity acrOss boRders linKed 2.0) project builds on the success and results of STORK by taking further steps to maximize the uptake of eID in Europe, aiming at realizing a single European electronic identification and authentication area. Its highly innovative focus lies on the convergence of private and public sectors in an operational framework and infrastructure encompassing eID for secure electronic authentication of both legal and natural persons.
So, STORK 2.0 will seek and showcase uses of eID for the authentication of both legal and natural persons throughout the EU and will test, in real life environments, secure and easy-to-use eID and attribute solutions in four cross-border pilots focused on strategic eLearning & Academic Qualifications, eBanking, Public Services for Business and eHealth areas.
Finally, STORK 2.0 will build the basis for a future widespread use of eID solutions with exchange of attributes for legal and natural persons’ identification across borders, contributing to Europe’s leadership in eID market and facilitating borderless digital living and mobility in the EU. STORK 2.0 was launched in April 2012 and will end in March 2015.
- SPOCS projectBusinesses seeking to expand into other countries often struggle to comply with all the regulations they need to follow. Applying for licenses, permits and completing other administrative procedures in another country can be very complicated. SPOCS is a large-scale pilot project launched by the European Commission in May 2009 that aims to overcome these obstacles. SPOCS will provide seamless electronic procedures by building cross- border solutions based on your country’s existing systems. For example: An Italian real estate agent wants to expand his business to Bremen, Germany. The information provided by the Bremen PSC does not currently specify the Italian documents required. Will he be able to find his way through, including the information from his own home office? Will the transaction be secure? Yes, SPOCS will allow him to do all the administrative procedures online and cross-border via the Point of Single Contact! SPOCS will end December 2012.
- VoiceVoicE aimed at giving European people a voice in EU legislation. It established an internet platform with the objective to promote the dialogue between citizens from European regions, “their” EU decision-makers and further political stakeholders on the policy field of consumer protection in the EU.
Some of the objectives of the project were: the establishment of the online platform that enables citizen participation, the accessibility of the EU legislation by everyone through electronic means and the direct involvement of the citizens.
- Demos@WorkThe Demos@Work objective was to facilitate European-wide discussion between elected representatives and civil society on emerging policy issues that have a potential impact on all countries within the European Union. The issue selected for the trials of the project is the harmful effects of smoking.
An online platform was put to trial for this issue. Among the objectives of this project was the need to strengthen the EU fight against tobacco use, the facilitation of the work of MPs, the acceleration of the transition to a knowledge society and the improvement of the quality of services provided to citizens.
MAPPING ICT INFRASTRUCTURES IN AFRICA TO IMPROVE THE COORDINATION OF INTERNATIONAL AID
- iMENTORS: e-Infrastructure Monitoring Evaluation and Tracking Support SystemiMENTORS will be the most comprehensive and interactive one-stop-shop data map containing information on all e-infrastructure projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the ONLY platform of its kind with ambition to cover as many projects in a region as diverse as this one, and the only which providing such policy support and networking functions to improve the coordination of international cooperation in this field.
By mapping e-infrastructure initiatives, our aim is to help scientists, universities, research and education networks as well as policy-makers and international donors gain valuable insights on the gaps and progress made in the region. The platform contains a layered map of the region with a built-in robust decision-support system drawing public data from many online databases to assist provide policy support and assist programme planning and implementation.
The ultimate objective of iMENTORS is to form a vibrant online community of practice made of international actors and practitioners exchanging of up-to-date knowledge and information through online social interactions and dedicated spaces for online collaboration in order to enhance the coordination of international actors involved in ICT initiatives in this part of the world.
Sense4us will research ways to make policy-making more effective using cutting edge research and technologies. The online tool that will be created by the project will:
- Gather and summarize information from multiple sources (i.e. open data, citizen generated data, forums etc.), thus helping policy makers find and use effectively the most relevant and updated information when forming policies
- Enable policy-makers to simulate the impacts and consequences of different policy options before policies are formally adopted. This modeling of policies will allow policy-makers to choose the proposal that best fits their objectives and will help to avoid unintended consequences.