Archive for October, 2008

DEMOS-Plan tool for participatory processes in land use planning successfully implemented and awarded price

30. October 2008 – 16:07 by Bengt Feil

In July of this year TuTech started its wide scale test of the-DEMOS Plan tool for participation in urban planning in the city of Hamburg. EU member states are required by law to involve the public in the planning process whenever the environment is concerned and DEMOS-Plan is aimed to directly address this mandatory form of participation. With the actual test phase, which was divided up into two test cases, finished and the first evaluation results in the success of this real world test is very clear and it shows the potential of the tool to address a clearly defined need in the realm of participation and administration.

DEMOS-Plan enables the complete formal participatory process in land use planning to be handled on the Internet. The system takes account of the differing demands of members of the public, companies, government departments and public agencies while at the same time supporting the responsible authority in the administration and consideration of submissions.. More in depth information about the tool itself can be found in my previous article on the matter.

The two test cases in Hamburg demonstrated that all parties involved in urban planning (e.g. the public administration and its different divisions, companies, NGO´s and citizens) were open to and used this innovative tool. For example 80% of all organisations who would normally be supplied with printed versions of all planning material decided to only use the online tool. In the first test case, which was aimed at involving public agencies in the planning process, the involvement of the participating parties was vivid and lead to many important remarks and annotations to the planning material. In the second test, which involved individual citizens, the participation was far stronger than the involvement in paper based planning efforts.

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Delib says a big hello to PEP-NET!

30. October 2008 – 13:38 by Delib

Dear all

After finally getting an errant fax machine to work Delib have become the newest member of PEP-NET!

We are primarily an online opionion research and e-consultation company based in Bristol, UK. By offering both ready to go products (such as our Budget Simulator) and bespoke services we like to cover all the e-consultation bases. Our clients are public sector bodies including governemnt departments and councils.

We are currently working hard on our new consultation modules for our Opinion Suite package, which is an open source mix and match system consisting of a consultation database, a survey tool, and a stakeholder database to follow shortly. It is a good example of our customisation ethos at Delib, where we make the what the client wants and needs, not a one size fits all product.

We are interested in e-participation ideas that work. We want to use PEP-NET as a resource for research and dissemination of best practice. We think we have a lot to offer with our view from the coal face over the last 7 years, which hopefully will offer a a different perspective from the more academic approach others bring.

Delib will be at the Headstar Conference (11th November, London) leading a workshop on Open source in e-democracy, and we hope to meet our fellow PEP-NET associates there!

Looking for volunteers…

28. October 2008 – 19:06 by Francesco Molinari

Climate is changing, let’s change our views… On November 15th 2008, a pan-European Town Meeting on climate change will be held in three regions of Europe (Tuscany, Catalonia and Poitou-Charentes). Several discussion tables will be set up in the venues of Florence, Barcelona or Poitiers, particularly open to young people: the final goal is to provide the European Parliament with a structured list of priorities for future legislation and regulation in this delicate policy area. The Town Meeting is organised in the context of the European project IDEAL-EU - for further information please visit: Even if you are not living in those regions, you may still have the chance to take part in this event as a Virtual Participant. It’s a new way to participate to the discussion, which is being experimented for the first time in Europe and possibly all over the world. Remote discussion tables will be arranged to give people the opportunity of joining the discussions without moving from home. Virtual participants will interact with other European citizens and youngsters on line. They will be able to vote on the different proposals emerging from the discussion tables, and give their contributions to the final results of the day. If you speak English and are a regular chat user, please contact urgently Francesco Molinari or Chiara Cordone to join in! Their email addresses are: mail AT and chiaracordone AT Please feel free to distribute this communication among your friends or collegues.

Promoción de la participación ciudadana en Aragón

28. October 2008 – 12:53 by ASAEL

El pasado día 21 de Octubre, ASAEL acudió a la conferencia sobre participación ciudadana en el Gobierno de Aragón como representante de la red pan-europea PEP-NET.

Aragón es una Comunidad Autónoma donde la participación ciudadana está todavía en un estadio inicial. Sus actividades comienzan en el año 2004 en el marco de ciertas actividades del Gobierno de Aragonés especialmente en asuntos relacionados con reservas hídricas y medioambientales. Hasta el año 2007 no empieza a desarrollar actividades con el rango de Dirección General independiente y como acción transversal dirigida a fomentar la nueva cultura de participación ciudadana en la gobernanza de Aragón.

Esta conferencia ha mostrado la necesidad de que los procedimientos de eParticipación funcionen. Así, en esta conferencia se ha señalado que tanto la administración como los administrados disponen de herramientas tecnológicas que hacen más fácil interactuar entre sí, pero deben dotarse de mecanismos que les permitan la construcción colectiva de los intereses generales.

Este concepto es de vital importancia ya que transforma la actuación pública como una responsabilidad colectiva en lugar de una responsabilidad delegada en los gobernantes y la administración.

Y en esta transformación las administraciones públicas tienen un papel fundamental: hablar de democracia participativa es hablar de innovación democrática a través de la construcción de vínculos de confianza y de responsabilidad con los ciudadanos.

Esta innovación comienza por el fomento de los valores, la formación del ciudadano, la promoción de las buenas prácticas, la investigación y la sensibilización.

La administración tiene una nueva responsabilidad: la de proporcionar a los ciudadanos instrumentos de información y participación adecuados, accesibles y flexibles. Estos instrumentos harán posible el compartir valores y prácticas democráticas al conjunto de la sociedad.

Y el resultado de esta innovación debe ser la toma de mejores decisiones que contribuyan a mejorar la evaluación de las Políticas públicas.

Esta mejora en las decisiones, en la efectividad de las mismas y la reducción de los conflictos deberán propiciar un aumento de la confianza y de la credibilidad de la acción pública, técnica y administrativa.

El resultado final de esta conferencia es sensibilizar a los ciudadanos y a los representantes de la administración local en los beneficios que para todos reporta la participación ciudadana y especialmente la eParticipación para los ciudadanos del mundo rural.

Promotion of the citizens participation in Aragón

28. October 2008 – 12:49 by ASAEL

The past day 21 of October, ASAEL attended to the conference on citizen participation in the Government of Aragon, as representative of the pan-European network, PEP-NET.

In Aragón, the citizen’s participation is still in a first step. Its activities started in 2004 in the framework of some activities of the regional Government related to the water resources and the environment. It is in the year 2007 when their activities are developed as General Directorate and as transversal action addressed to promote the new culture of citizenship participation in the governance of Aragon.

This conference has shown the necessity that the procedurals of eParticipation work. Thus, this conference has tried to show how not only the administration but also the citizens should have the administrative and technological tools to make easier their interactivity between them. They must be provided with mechanisms to allow the collective building of general interests.

This new concept transforms the traditional public activity from a delegated responsibility into the politicians and the administration to a collective responsibility. Talking about participated democracy means talk about democratic innovation through the building of responsibility and confidence bonds.

The democratic innovation starts promoting the values that support all this process. It continues with the training of the citizens and the civil servants, the promotion of the good practices and the investigation.

The public administration has a new responsibility: providing the citizenship suitable, accessible and flexible information tools. These instruments will make possible to share values and democratic practices with all the society.

And the result of this innovation must be taking better decisions which contribute to the improvement of the public Policies.

The improvement in the decisions, the arise effectiveness and the reduction of the conflicts will increase the confidence and the credibility of the public actions, both technical and administrative.

The final result of this conference is the sensibilization of the citizens and the representatives of the local administration in the benefits reported by the citizen’s participation and the participation, especially for the citizens of the rural areas.

Council of Europe’s policy recommendations on eDemocracy

25. October 2008 – 22:55 by Rolf Luehrs

Action required: Council of Europe asks for comments on final draft of policy recommendations on eDemocracy

The following text has been edited and distributed by Christoforos Korakas:

“The Council of Europe is finalising a rather important document meant to become a policy recommendation to its member states (47) on eDemocracy

The Draft Recommendation is being compiled and prepared by a group of experts and country representatives participating at the Council of Europe Ad’Hoc eDemocracy Committee (CAHDE)

During the last discussion of this Committee (in Madrid, during the Forum for the Future of Democracy, 15-17/10/2008) it was decided that the document should be diffused to all eDemocracy related Networks to get feed back and comments

I have created a blog with inline comments enabled so that you can react on specific parts of the document

All you need to do is highlight the part of the text you want to comment on and you can add a comment.

It is one of these rare opportunities we have to really influence policy, moreover on a domain that is presumably of interest to all of you.

Thank you for your contributions.


Christoforos Korakas”

(e) Participating in Copenhagen

24. October 2008 – 16:20 by Maren Luebcke

The annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers was held in Copenhagen last week. Under the title “Rethinking Community, Rethinking Place” 400 researchers visited the IT University of Copenhagen and presented their current work on Internet research on a broad range of topics.

Worth to mention - and probably the most successful key note at the IR 9.0 was Stephen Grahams speech on “Sentient Cities: Ambient Intelligence and the Politics of Urban Space”. He basically works on the relations between urban places and mobility, infrastructure and technology on the one hand, and war, surveillance and geopolitics on the other. In his recent work - and in his talk - he describes the implications of new media technologies for urban life and the proliferation of urban surveillance systems which are increasingly automated through computer software. His latest book on this topic will be out in March 2009 under the title “Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism”. It will be definitely worth reading it even if it will be a pretty frightening reading.

Interestingly most of the presented research on the conference followed a qualitative approach. Thus it was much more about giving a close description of areas like e-science, online games, religion online than providing statistical data on Internet usage, which I appreciate. Unfortunately the track on e-participation was a little bit disappointing.

But I was able to meet Thomas Hammer-Jakobsen, head of the Copenhagen Living Lab. Located close to the IT University the Copenhagen Living Lab tries to find answers how public administrations but also enterprises could meet the challenges of a changing society in terms of technological revolution and demographical changes through user driven innovations. I was very impressed how serious the Living Lab approach are taken by Thomas Hammer-Jakobsen and colleagues. They are really working on the concept of user driven innovations out of the daily users life by e.g. running a whole retirement community as a living lab. Currently they experiment with the development and the deployment of an online platform to support the process of user driven innovation on a variety of topics.

As mentioned earlier by Francesco here the combination of e-participation with the Living Lab approach might be a valuable idea. In particular, a potential benefit could be a careful preparation of the participatory trials by analysing the users needs to avoid - as Francesco stressed out - “the most common pitfalls of current eDemocracy experiences, such as: lack of active involvement from citizens and/or stakeholders, mistrust from the people, skepticism from the politicians, and ultimately a low reusability of upcoming results within the public decision making process.”

Lets hope that neither the promising area of e-participation nor the field of Living Lab research will suffering too badly from the current financial crisis.

Daring Democracy? - The Forum on the Future of Democracy 2008

23. October 2008 – 09:39 by Bengt Feil

This years conference season is filled with very interesting events and the Forum in the Future of Democracy held by the Council of Europe in Madrid on October 15th to 17th was surely on of them. This regular event is aimed at covering a wide range of different topics connected to the future of democracy and this year’s tagline was: eDemocracy – Who dares? With this provocative theme at hand and with the long list of very interesting invited speakers and participants this year’s forum was set up to be a success. I would like to share a few of my personal impressions and highlights of the event besides the wonderful weather in Madrid.

The keynote of one of the founders of Skype who is now working both in the academic and the social sector on the first day of the conference made is clear that the topic of eDemocracy has matured and is seen as being very important beyond the core group of enthusiasts. The large number of attendees representing public administrations and EU and national organizations also supports this point and shows that many of the decision-makers in the different branches of government have picked up the topic and are moving forward.

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A DSS for transparency and eParticipation, case study in Örebro

20. October 2008 – 11:12 by Orebro University

Örebro University in cooperation with the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) is working on a project to develop a decision support system (DSS) which includes aspects of eDemocracy. The project will test and refine a model for transparent decision making and eParticipation (which we have tried earlier in another city) including; a decision model (criteria and prioritizations), a decision process, a web-structure for all documents from government and stakeholders, a system for continuously reporting and discussing  progress internally and  to/with the public. A case study in Örebro city is currently ongoing. The topic is the cleaning up of a local river to improve the quality of the water as to make it suitable for bathing. As environmental aspects will be taken into consideration the issue is complex and not easily decided upon, which makes it a suitable case study for the project. So far problem modeling has been done and local politicians are currently discussing different criteria to take into consideration in the decision making, while civil servants are gathering facts from consultants reports as a basis for the decision making process. The details of the public participation is yet to be decided upon by the politicians. Ther are numerous reports from the eariler test (in the City of Nacka, Sweden) available.

My e-Dem Forum

20. October 2008 – 09:49 by Rolf Luehrs

The 9th World e-Democracy Forum took place on Thursday and Friday last week in Issy-les Moulineaux (Paris) – and was worth attending.

It is an open secret that the quality of conferences depends not only on the official programme, or maybe not even in the first place, but on the people you meet, side talks and social events like lunch & dinner :). In this regard the quality of the conference was excellent, at least for me. I met people some of whom I am virtually connected with but never met before personally like Simon Smith (Univerity of Leeds) or Catherine Howe (public-i). I also had the opportunity to talk to some “very senior” people who I asked to join PEP-NET’s advisory board which we are about to start. And of course I met people who I know quite well or work together with, like Francesco Molinari or Daniel van Lerberghe.

Lots of people have been introduced among each other and for me it looked very much like the so far small eParticipation community is growing and becomes much better interconnected. This is remarkable since lots of the “usual suspects” attended the Future of Democracy conference hosted by the Council of Europe in Madrid (I am sure Bengt will write somthing about it, when he is back from the Quality Conference in Paris) . Another good thing was that both, audience and speakers came from  different domains like research, economy, NGOs, politics and public administrations. Read the rest of this entry »