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ECC 2009 in Örebro, Sweden

23. March 2009 – 12:05 by Orebro University

The European Citizens Consultation Sweden gathered on 21-22 of March,  91 citizens in Örebro to develop the Swedish perspectives on the economic and social future of Europe. The citizens participating in the consultation were randomly invited according to criteria of representatively: different age groups, different educational levels, gender, geographical distribution, and other Member States-specific criteria were considered to ensure that the citizens attending the European Citizens’ Consultation in Sweden represented the demographic composition of the country as a whole. The event was organised by Örebro University and its department for political science.   The consultation was held at the university where vice president of the EU-commission Margot Wallström, held the opening speech.

The national consultation is and of 8 simultaneous consultations in other European countries, and is a following step to the previous web-discussion (previously mentioned in a posting by Involve on December 16, 2008). At some points during the consultation contact with Hungary and Ireland was established through Skype (as well as a tool developed specifically for the consultations) and shared results and thoughts regarding the other countries. After the third and last weekend of national consultations (28th/29th of March) all results from the national consultations will be put together and discussed in a second online phase.

My experience as a moderator for one of ten tables during this weekend was very rewarding. Not only did I get a hands-on experience of a democracy project (with much eParticipation) in action, but also I got to witness how individuals who self-stated total disinterest in EU or politics in general develop a genuine interest in the debate. Some of the themes discussed were environmental issues (such as the Russian gas line), transparency in political administration and how the EU should handle immigration. It will without doubt be interesting to see what topics that have been raised in all other countries, and which of them that will win the affection of participants in the next online-phase.


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Residents are given the possibility to speak up

19. January 2009 – 16:30 by Orebro University

Residents in Örebro city can right now speak up on how they want one of the city’s square to be designed. For a time, there have been efforts to change the city center and now the work has come to improve the square. To find out what people think, there is currently functionality at the city’s web site that allows residents to participate in the change process and to make suggestions. There is a current draft (presented at the site) and the residents can say what they think about it, or come up with new own ideas. Residents have until the 13th of February to speak up. The purpose of changing the square is to make the city more attractive, therefore are the residents opinions valuable.

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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.

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Democracy week in Jarfalla municipality

2. October 2008 – 09:24 by Orebro University

In Jarfalla municipality in Sweden the work on improving and increasing democracy and participation began a few years ago. The work has been divided into many sub-projects, for example: democracy week, school visits and open meetings where citizens can ask questions and express opinions. Since 2004, residents in Jarfalla have also been able to provide municipal proposals to various changes in the municipality.

The most attractive event so far has however been the democracy week, which is going on right now. Some of the questions and topics to be addressed this year include the interaction between policy, citizens and the media, how important it is that people’s representatives are as people, what remains for local politicians to decide when many decisions lie with the EU as well as openness and citizen involvement in the planning of the municipality’s land use.

The goal is that Jarfalla 2012 is characterized by a high degree of transparency and participation, including via electronic meeting places. However, this must be implemented without representative democracy undermined. The new contact roads will complement today’s opportunities for participation.

Ake Gronlund of Orebro University will participate in democracy week on Friday when questions about e-democracy are particularly discussed. He will do a presentation of e-participation tools and methods to inform and inspire that development.

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Sweden’s New Surveillance Law

2. July 2008 – 14:38 by Orebro University

Sweden has recently been in the international news for issues related to government surveillance versus privacy.

Last week, a controversial law was passed enabling the FRA (translated into English as the National Defense Radio Establishment) to collect any and all traffic crossing the Swedish borders. Earlier, only suspicion of crime would allow the FRA to listen in. While technically limited to international communications, any internal Swedish communication that might cross the border back and forth on its way through the Internet could be collected.

The law aroused public outrage, and some MPs broke the party line and voted against it. Nonetheless, after some amendments were made, it passed. The changes include a committee that must okay the FRA to listen in (there will be a need for a reason), and the Data Inspection Board will inspect FRA activities to make sure that the privacy and protection of sources laws are followed.

However, the criticism has not stopped. Opponents believe these changes are not enough and the law is excessively invasive into people’s privacy. Neighboring countries have also complained this law will allow surveillance of most of their citizen’s communications.

For more coverage (in English) see this website. Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Swedish Parliament Building

Stockholm, Capital of Sweden

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Call for project partners

17. June 2008 – 16:50 by Orebro University

Örebro University will submit a proposal to the new EU eParticipation call and we now look for possible partners. We need partners in at least two European countries (other than Sweden) . The ideal partner is a university with a good record in conducting eParticipatory processes who has contacts with some government (local or other) where trials can take place. There will be a need for an interesting decision problem and a willingness on part of the government to try out a new method (which has been tested already – we can provide results and experiences). The project will include both technical systems (which we develop) and designing and analysis of particiaptory decision processes (which each partner must localize). A brief description of the project will be sent upon request.

/Åke Grönlund

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Örebro University – eDemocracy/eParticipation activities

9. June 2008 – 16:11 by Orebro University

It is my pleasure to introduce Örebro University (Sweden) to PEP-net. I would like to use our first blog post to briefly introduce you to some of eParticipation researchers and activities at our school.

Our young Örebro University has a broad spectrum of research in democracyour slogan is “the democratic university.” When it comes to eDemocracy and the related fields of eGovernment and ICT4D (ICT for development), the Department of Informatics in the Swedish Business School plays a leading role in global networks. We work together with other disciplines such as political science, media and communication and public administration and have been involved in numerous related EU, national, local and business projects. Read the rest of this entry »