20. August 2008 – 15:18 by Danish Technological Institute
As part of the ongoing eParticipation study eParticipation Study - titled “Study and supply of services on the development of eParticipation in the EU” -for the European Commission (DG Information Society and Media) the following project deliverables has been submitted to the client and now published:
eParticipation good practice cases (D4.2a)
eParticipation recommendations (D5.1a)
As part of the study’s initial analysis of eParticipation practitioner initiatives in Europe 216 cases from 18 countries and in 29 different languages have been identified to date and are initially available on our project website.
The first of three iterations of eParticipation related recommendations is also available now on our project website. At the end of the study the third and final iteration will provide a set of practical, and intellectually rigorous, recommendations. The recommendations aim to answer and specify (mainly at European level) the following:
What should be done by whom?
How this may be achieved?
Which types of ICT can be used?
How other types of media can be involved?
However, rather than attempting to provide recommendations at this early stage of the project, this first iteration pose a number of tentative questions. Questions which reflect some of the main lines of enquiry appropriate to the study and may help frame the final recommendations. The questions have arisen as a result of the work carried out to date and the current report may as a result also serve as a partial overview of the study as it currently stands.
The next wave of deliverables is foreseen for publication in October/Novermber 2008 and will include updates of all current findings. The second version of the deliverables will therefore reflect the further analysis carried out by the Consortium as well as take into account comments made by the project’s Peer Review Group and the European Commission.
13. August 2008 – 14:43 by Fraser Henderson - ICELE
The UK Ministry of Justice has recently released it’s third phase report from a number of eParticipation pilots conducted by the various main UK government departments. This included blogs, Wikis and debate mapping tools.
Here are the ‘juicy bits’ from the Executive Summary:-
“Successful on-line engagement exercises stimulate high quality interactions: in such cases, moderators provide guidance to participants and invite reasoned input – quality rather than quantity of posts is valued and timely interventions (such as summaries and debate triggers for users) to keep discussion flowing are valued. Simply by explaining how user comments are being processed (or how the public can take part in the policy process) engenders high levels of user satisfaction.
When government departments were reticent, they courted controversy and disengagement became inevitable. Some websites failed to gain traction (measured through few repeat visits) because users did not believe that anyone was listening or responding to their perspectives; in such cases, departments were paralysed by a sense of ‘risk’ and failed to harness the range of engagement opportunities at their disposal – responding only on topics deemed ‘safe’.
The most successful websites devote resources (time, people and technology) to their online engagement exercise and this makes it possible to satisfy user requirements and provide professional standards of deliberation.
Some online engagement exercises are not designed to have a policy impact; in one such case, a blog set up to inform the public, had sufficiently high level of ministerial and policy team involvement that a user comment was nonetheless able to stimulate a policy review; websites that were disconnected from their policy or ministerial brief, or constrained by a long chain of command, engendered less user satisfaction (both among participants and the government officials running the exercise).
Most participating departments observed – at a minimum – that on-line engagement provided them with organisational, data handling and transparency tools; those with good marketing strategies (or who achieved media attention) noted that their exercise had led to the broadening out of engagement to people on the periphery of the policy process; those who were able to generate a sustainable community of practice noted that on-line deliberations allowed them to bridge space and time.
The government departments that benefit the most from on-line forms of deliberation engage the public (and/or stakeholders) at various stages in the policy process: where government departments were too fixed in their approach, they failed to capitalise on their investment; those with a reflexive and experimental approach were able to adapt to meet the challenges posed by on-line engagement.
Online engagement speeds up existing process; departments that connect their on-line and off-line processes are more likely to have an integrated and efficacious approach to policy; in such cases, democratic disengagement becomes less of a risk than in departments that lack a coherent approach.”
It has been discussed on many different occasions how forms of electronic participation can help companies to keep in touch with their costumers, develop innovation and test products etc. The recent project MyStarbucksIdea showed how successful the use of eParticipation can be in such settings (a comprehensive article on this project can be found here (German) and here). Now UserVoice tries to generalise the approach of MyStarbucksIdea and makes the service available to everyone.
You can take a look at this video describing the UserVoice platform and its uses:
The service makes it relatively simple for a company to kick of a dialog with their costumers or employees by implementing a clear process which promises to cover all steps of participation from the initial idea to the implementation.
But a number of questions remain: Can the approach chosen be UserVoice really be the background for a communicative processes involving the development of new ideas or does it best serve as a costumer satisfaction tool? Will especially large companies be willing to use a standard platform or do they need to have more control and original design?
At the least UserVoice shows that eParticipation for companies is a trend which is here to stay. No we have to figure out how to best implement it.