6. September 2011 – 15:15 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)
Nikolaus Münster is Head of Press and Public Relations at the City Council in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. I spoke to him about the city’s “Social Media Newsroom“, which gathers content from all of its social media channels and presents it on one website.
Nikolaus gained inspiration for the idea when he took part in a European exchange programme in 2009, completing a secondment at Birmingham City Council. That is where I met him and where he learned about Birmingham News Room. Apart from anything, I think this is a nice bit of European best practice exchange, which can often be hard to quantify. It’s also nice to see Frankfurt getting something in return for the Christmas Market that they send to Birmingham ever winter!
John Heaven (JH): What is a Social Media Newsroom?
Nikolaus Münster (NM): Our Social Media Newsroom brings together all of our social media channels on one website. The user can view this site to see news about the city on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube and other media at a glance.
We have been using these means of communication for a while now. Since 2009 we have been on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. When we started we wanted to gain experience before actively publicising our social media presences. Now, social media are central to our communication strategy.
18. November 2010 – 10:32 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)
Manuel Kripp, MD of E-Voting.cc
Manuel Kripp, Managing Director of PEP-NET member E-Voting.cc, recently visited the US during the mid-term elections, so I was very curious to find out what he had got up to. We spoke about electronic voting machines, the role of social media in the US elections, and the need for change management when introducing E-Voting technology.
16. November 2010 – 12:00 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)
Birmingham's Virtual Library. Click for larger image
It’s easy to reject Second Life as an eParticipation platform, but Birmingham City Council is just about to launch a virtual model of the planned £193m Library of Birmingham. I spoke to representatives of the Council and the company that they are working with to find out what they are doing, and how they are making the virtual library accessible to a wide audience. What I found was fascinating, and I really think Second Life deserves a second look.
Second Life is a virtual world that allows users to assume a second identity and explore a digital three-dimensional world. It’s not difficult to see how this could be used to enable people to “go” to places they wouldn’t otherwise visit, network with people from far away, or take part in virtual events. That’s the theory; but my big issue with Second Life is that it is a very niche audience and it takes quite a lot of effort to download the software and work out how to use it. Once you’re in there, it’s great to be able to look at these virtual buildings and access information; but I can view videos, read text, and chat to friends much more easily using the internet outside Second Life. So why would a city council be interested in Second Life? Read the rest of this entry »
19. May 2010 – 09:16 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)
Photo of Robert Krimmer
When Britons went to vote in the General Election on 6th May, some of them were locked out of the polling booths and were not able to cast their votes. An article on the PublicTechnology website suggested that eVoting could be the answer to this problem, and should be given another chance.
I spoke to Robert Krimmer – Director and Founder of the Competence Center for Electronic Voting in Austria and a founding member of PEP-NET – to find out whether he agreed.
John Heaven: Hi Robert. What is E-Voting.cc, and what do you mean by eVoting?
Robert Krimmer: E-Voting.cc is an Austrian Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that fosters the development of eVoting. We deal with any type of eVoting – whether electronic machines in polling booths, internet voting, voting through cash machines, mobile phone voting. The important thing is that the act of casting a vote is done electronically.
JH: So does that include the punch-card system that is used in the United States?
JH: You have heard about the problems that UK voters had last week: there were complaints about voters queuing for hours only to be turned away at 10pm. Could eVoting have solved this problem, as discussed in a recent PublicTechnology article?
17. May 2010 – 10:14 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)
Photo of Chuck Hirt
I spoke to Chuck Hirt, from the Central and Eastern European Citizens’ Network (CEECN, a member of PEP-NET) about eParticipation in Central and Eastern Europe. Chuck says that eParticipation along Western European lines is “science fiction” in C&E Europe. On the other hand, people who visit the region are often “inspired by the spirit, energy and enthusiasm” there.
John Heaven: Hi Chuck. Please tell me a bit about CEECN.
Chuck Hirt: The Central and Eastern European Citizens Network gives grass-roots citizens organisations the opportunity to work together, share ideas, and enhance their organisational growth. It started by bringing together staff and citizens from a few organisations across Central and Eastern Europe, who found the meetings really helpful – if anything, just to gain inspiration and energy to take home and continue the struggle.
We found out that several of us were funded by a US donor organisation, the Charles Stewart Mott foundation. They said they would be happy to promote this activity, but asked that we included organisations from further away in the east. We were happy to do this, and our members now come from 19 different countries.
The network is going strong, and we are celebrating our tenth anniversary this year. We are just making preparations for a Citizens’ Participation University. At the moment we are doing some research into the state of participation to act as a base line.
JH: What is the key to the network’s success?
CH: The network was a good place for exchanging stories and experience, putting on training from the start and particularly running a conference every two years. But things started taking off as we began to find way to become proactive and institute events like “Citizen Participation Week”. This was a lot of hard work but gave us a focus. This was quite an exciting moment.
JH: What achievements does CEECN have to its name?
6. May 2010 – 14:23 by Bengt Feil (TuTech Innovation GmbH)
I had the chance to sit down at the EDEM10 conference in Krems / Austria today for a quick chat about the idea of Mr. Peña-Lopez from the Open University of Catalunya that the way we implement eDemocracy and eParticipation might lead to the development of a new digital elite and the problems which arise from that:
4. May 2010 – 09:13 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)
Dominic's Twitter profile pic
Dominic Campbell, Director and founder of British consultancy FutureGov, has taken time off from his day job to volunteer for the Labour party election campaign. Dominic kindly found the time between meetings with the likes of Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband for me to interview him about government, what can be learned from the US, and his role in the Labour Party election campaign.
Dominic’s comments relating to the Labour Party are made in a personal capacity and not as director of FutureGov.
John Heaven:Hi Dominic. Many thanks for your time today – I know you must be very busy with only three days to go until the general election. First question: Why did you found FutureGov?
Dominic Campbell: I first became involved in local government as a graduate trainee at Barnet Council. Within four years, I was heading a department. Despite being promoted so quickly, I didn’t have the influence that I had expected. In order to change things for the better, I decided I needed to influence the whole sector instead of being dependent on one manager or one council leader.
JH: What is it about local government that fascinates you?
DC: Funnily enough, I was asked the other day which part of government I’d most like to work in. My answer was unequivocally “local government”: it’s the most diverse, interesting and closest to people. It has a different culture from central government, and the right people at the right time really can be agile and make change without asking for permission. I don’t have time for council leaders who say that government isn’t decentralised enough that they don’t have autonomy to do stuff without asking.
DC: eGov – eGovernment – is top-down and centralised. It’s about maintaining the old way of doing government but doing it more efficiently by adding a layer of IT over old bureaucracy. eGov is expensive, and you have no autonomy as a human being to change things and make them work better. It has gone as far as it can: we’ve had web forms, SAP systems and the like. eGovernment has made government better, but now we’re moving onto the next stage, which is WeGov.
WeGov is about harnessing web 2.0, and promoting social innovation to change the way government works and redesign services. It’s about saying “people are getting on and doing things without us. How can we make the most of what they’re doing?”
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not one of those people who says eGovernment is rubbish and web 2.0 is the only way. eGovernment served a purpose, and it is now evolving to the next stage.
JH: What can the UK learn from the US and vice versa?
In 2008 Steve founded GovLoop.com – currently the most successful social network for civil servants and people interested in public administrations.
PEP-NET: Steve, can you explain in a few sentences what Govloop is all about?
Steve Ressler: GovLoop is the “Facebook for Government” – a social network connecting almost 30,000 public sector innovators to share best practices and ideas to improve government. Membership is free and check it out at govloop.com.
PEP-NET: How did you manage to make the network that popular?
Steve Ressler: I never imagined it would be 30,000 members when it started. I think it became popular for a few reasons:
It serves a need that isn’t been met. The need to collaborate among gov’t peers. And when people saw it they told their friends.
We always have fun and be authentic.
We continue to listen to the community every day and make changes to meet their needs.
One of the benefits of the GovLoop platform is that public administrations worldwide can exchange best practices.
Simon is a full-time eDemocracy/eParticipation practitioner and researcher. InEPa is a PEP-NET member and a regular contributor to the PEP-NET blog.
To take part in the chat, simply go to the news item on the internet-discourse.eu website. Within that article you will see a window, which will allow you to participate in the chat when it starts. (If you go to the page before the chat starts, you will see a window where you can enter your email address for a reminder to be sent.)
You can continue to participate in the general discussion on eParticipation in Central and Eastern Europe at all times until this Friday (23rd April) by registering on the site and posting comments in the forum. The results of the discourse will be presented to the European Commission as a situation paper.
15. April 2010 – 11:38 by Dorothee Ruetschle (TuTech Innovation GmbH)
Am Montag, den 12. April 2010 startete die PEP-NET online-Diskussion zum Thema “online Bürgerbeteiligung in Zentral- und Osteuropa. Zahlreiche Teilnehmer diskutieren aktiv über Fragen rund um Möglichkeiten und Herausforderungen der Bürgerbeteiligung-online (ePartizipation). Ziel der 14-tägigen Diskussion ist die Entwicklung von Grundsätzen, wie das Instrument der online-Bürgerbeteiligung öfters angewandt werden kann und wie die Herausforderungen gemeistert werden können. Sie sind herzlich eingeladen teilzunehmen!
Die von PEP-NET initiierte und moderierte Diskussion wird in mehreren Phasen verlaufen: Zunächst identifizieren die Teilnehmer aktuelle Themen. Anschließend dürfen die Teilnehmer in Live-Chats prominente Gäste aus der ePartizipation-Szene befragen. Wir freuen uns auf spannende Dialoge!