Archive for the ‘members’ Category

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It’s the taking part that counts, not the minutes – PEP-NET Hangout

28. September 2012 – 15:25 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)
Picture of PEP-NET Hangout

The invisible man

Today we held the second of two Google+ Hangouts with PEP-NET members. No real agenda, open to anyone who was interested, and not quite sure whether it would work. We gave it a go.

From an organiser’s point of view, the best things about doing a hangout rather than a text-based live chat (as we have done before with CoverItLive) is that i) the number of participants doesn’t need to be high for you to feel successful and ii) you can really see who is there and know that people were there for the duration. If I had organised a live text chat and six people in total had taken part, I would have been pretty disappointed.

Rather than writing boring minutes of the conversation, here is a collection of links to projects that were mentioned, as well as the websites or twitter accounts of the participants themselves. After all, it’s the taking part that counts, not the minutes.

Finland: Youth Initiative Channel, a project allowing youngsters to make suggestions/express wishes. Similar to FixMyStreet but about solutions, not problems.
(Some information in 2.3.1. of this report (PDF)), via @nadinekarbach.

Iceland: A group of citizens drafted a new constitution using online collaboration tools and presented it to the speaker of the parliament. Here’s a link that I found about the story, via @nadinekarbach (again)

Finland: The Finnish children’s parliament, via @nadinekarbach. (Now I feel like a kid copying someone else’s homework. Thanks Nadine.)

UK: 38 Degrees: a platform that brings people together to campaign, via @andywilliamson

The Danish Parliament puts videos of all its sessions online, and has made them fully searchable by users. Here’s an article I found about that. Thanks again, @andywilliamson

Gábor Mihucz (Foundation for Societal Participation, Germany/Hungary), @GaborMihucz
Nadine Karbach (YouthPart, Germany), @nadinekarbach
Andy Williamson (FutureDigital, UK/worldwide), @Andy_Williamson
Hans Hagedorn (DEMOS eParticipation, Germany), @haans_en
Rolf Lührs (TuTech/DEMOS eParticipation, Germany), @somed
Peter Sonntagbauer (FUPOL),
… and of course me, @johnheaven
And PEP-NET is @pepnet.

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And the most innovative e-government project in the German speaking world is …

17. September 2012 – 13:49 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Every year, Bearing Point and Cisco Germany award a project the title of “the most innovative e-government project in the German-speaking world”. This year, the Federal State of Schleswig-Holstein was nominated for their project BOB-SH* in which they implemented DEMOS-Plan, our software for managing spatial planning consultations online. And they won!

So we’ve been feeling a little bit innovative for the past week too. After all, we worked closely with Schleswig-Holstein, giving technical support, training and telephone assistance to the wide range of stakeholders who will be working with DEMOS-Plan.

DEMOS-Plan is an online tool that closely follows the procedure laid down by German law for conducting consultations on a particular type of spatial plan (the “Bebauungsplan”). It allows statutory stakeholders to manage submissions internally by requiring one representative to sign off the submissions from different departments. These submissions can be linked to a particular paragraph of the planning document and/or the participant can draw on a map of the plan.

It’s great for the planning authority, because it saves them the trouble of sending paper copies of plans and collating all the submissions manually: instead, this is done automatically.

We think there are other countries in Europe where DEMOS-Plan could be useful and have been investigating this through the Parterre project. If you were at the PEP-NET Summit, you may have caught Francesco Molinari’s presentation of Parterre. (Hopefully you will also have noticed that the Summit was sponsored by Parterre!)

There will be more news on Parterre soon, so keep your eyes on the blog!

* Bauleitplanung Online-Beteiligung Schleswig Holstein

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PEP-NET Hangout – catch up on who’s doing what

14. September 2012 – 16:20 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Several new members have joined PEP-NET recently (see our members page), mainly thanks to the publicity around the PEP-NET Summit in May. I thought it would be a nice time to catch up again and meet the new members. We can’t organise a conference as often as we might like, but we can use Google+ Hangouts to keep in touch.

So if you are interested, fill in this Doodle poll to let me know when you can take part and I’ll publicise the date and time when it’s been decided. I’m hoping to keep it simple, with a quick round-robin of introductions and updates on what people are doing, and then discussion about conferences that people are planning to go to (hopefully people will be able to take the opportunity to meet up with one another in person), and then general chatter about recent developments and co-operations.

Looking forward to chatting!

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In response to Anthony Zacharzewski

2. September 2012 – 12:34 by gabor

A couple of weeks ago, Anthony Zacharzewski, social activist of The Democratic Society wrote a review on our association’s project that had the working title ‘webvotr’ and has since been named Civilzone.

We very much appreciate any feedback regarding the site and any comments would be greatly appreciated. Besides highlighting the elements of the initiative that he found most appealing and wishing us success, Anthony also raised a few interesting questions and pointed out some risky areas where we might not reach our original goals.

He suggested three possible problems.

Civilzone openly aims to mobilize society on international, national and at local government levels – Anthony thinks that in small local communities the so-called “Empty Restaurant Syndrome” might occur; due to the lack of users and interaction, the number of people joining smaller governmental units will not be enough to form a community able to make real changes and decisions. As an example, he quoted iCan, BBC’s similar project from ten years ago.

Although his worries are reasonable, I think this does not represent a real danger for us: there are two reasons why.

One of them is that while BBC forcefully tried to organise every single parish’s government from above, our scenario is completely different; we’ll try to begin organising the groups of administrators running the application on national level in as many countries as possible.

The administrators will post the parliamentary initiatives, then first the opponents are expected to demonstrate their dislike, and the ones in favour of the initiative will then show their support in reply to the negative arguments. Subsequently, there will hopefully be individual initiatives and perhaps success stories too, similarly to Hamburg’s Transparency Law.

Smaller communities will only be formed after this, as need for them emerges. As soon as we have at least one or two people willing to organise a community, they will be granted the opportunity from the administrators moderating the particular administrative area. By this time, results achieved on national and EU-levels will be the inspiration for many.

The other reason is that internet today is very different from what it used to be 10 years ago: not only regarding the number of users but also in terms of the transmission speed of information.

BBC’s iCan drew attention to the application but failed to generate activity. Even if a few individuals were determined to convince their friends and acquaintances of joining they could only attempt to do this through email and in person. Today the social network is a very active place where using the network of connections, clearly demonstrating the principle of 6-7 steps, the right information can spread on a global scale in seconds. Every comment left and every vote cast on civilzone will appear on the user’s Facebook wall, visible to all his friends, allowing societal participation to go viral.

I find the second query to be the most interesting: Anthony says that online experience so far has shown that only people from “the same side” can effectively cooperate on political matters. Besides many great examples, I can also point out current Hungarian ones: on Facebook, pages having around a hundred thousand likes, like One Million Strong for the Freedom of Press in Hungary or Viktor Orbán’s, it is clear that only people belonging to the same side can get along well. If every once in a while someone from “the other side” comes over, they either only want to disrupt the community, or if they’re actually trying to reason together or make a consensus, some keen users from the original community will make it clear with their atrocious comments that there’s no room for them here.

The difference for us lies in the fact that on civilzone we’ll have specific issues and initiatives that affect the lives of the people who live in the civil parishes rather than pages of organisations, parties and movements. So I hope that instead of supporting parties and taking sides, the discussion will focus on how much passing or rejecting a particular initiative can serve the interest of the community.

In order to promote this, we incorporated two features into the application: firstly, displaying the most popular pro and con arguments; secondly, the possibility of sending in articles or blog posts.

The third argument to be considered is the following: “How can it represent those offline, and how can it avoid just giving a stronger voice to those who (through education, wealth or position) already have a strong voice?”

Perhaps this is the area where we have the biggest cultural difference: in Hungary, besides online newspapers and weekly prints, there is only one radio station and one television channel that clearly voice the left wing’s standpoint – in opposition since 2010 – but even these are experiencing various difficulties. The internet on the other hand is widely known as a source of objective information and a means of taking a clear look at both sides of the coin. With regard to the above, the application would actually amplify the voice of those who are now in minority besides the crowds who voted the present government into constitutional supermajority.

Freedom of press is of course a separate issue; the parallelism here is not entirely correct.

I think that Anthony’s following query is the most relevant: it is true that those without internet access will not have a chance to effectively represent their interest through the application. Even though the growth is unstoppable and 92.9% of Sweden’s, 84.1% of the UK’s and 82.7% of Germany’s population are already able to access the World Wide Web, the figures quoted still do not make up 100%.

One possible solution is to use the application to demonstrate even more clearly that in an information society, internet access should be a universal human right – numerous countries (Estonia, Finland, France, Spain and Greece) have succeeded in implementing this. Civilzone could provide a way to start a petition in the European Union and it could be a useful, influential tool in shaping politics and the public opinion even for those wanting to help people living on the edge of the society.

In my personal opinion, the most challenging part of the project is building an international network. Even though I don’t have years of experience in this field I can see that in the case of e-participation or at least in organising activism through the internet, civilians – especially the younger members of the Y and the almost grown-up members of the Z-generation – are more successful than civil activists and also that thinking and keeping in touch on European or global level is quite rare.

It is very fortunate that organizations like PEP-NET and Participedia exist and improve the situation greatly, allowing us to write to you here, but I think more activity, discussions, statements, petitions and demonstrations, all in all, more participation is required to achieve our common goals.

Because of this, I’d like to ask everyone to write if they feel like they have something to comment about the present or the previous article; let’s ease the burden on John Heaven’s shoulders a little!

If you prefer paying attention from the background, I’d like to recommend Anthony’s organization and also our organization.

Let’s do some networking.

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Webvotr – early days for a new democracy Facebook app

1. August 2012 – 16:04 by Anthony Zacharzewski

At the PEP-NET summit in Hamburg a little while ago, I met Gabor Mihucz, a Hungarian democracy activist, who pointed me at his organisation theAssociation for Societal Participation and their new project “webvotr“.

Webvotr is still in concept form at the moment, but is intended as a Facebook app for democracy. The organisers say:

We have decided to create an application specially built for the social networks which would take the importance of spontaneous organizations to a higher level by honoring the demand of voters for a greater say in the policy-shaping process and which would maximize the force of public pressure exerted on politicians while also prompting people to participate in public matters who have lost all faith in common representation built upon a consensus. It is our hope that this application will again allow a meaningful dialog between voters and representatives.

It’s obviously very early days for the project at the moment, but you can get a rough idea of how it works from the “Application” page on the site.

I think the motivation behind the app is good – I think the challenge for Gabor and his team is to build something which promotes democratic discussion and can’t be gamed. It will need rapidly to create a network of users, with a positive culture. These are areas where political discussion on the Internet has generally failed.

As I say, I like the intent of the application. I think it makes sense on one level to build it on top of Facebook (but there are compromises inherent in that approach as well).

I like that the intention is to create an evidence base around proposals being discussed – it might not always be used, but it’s important to have it there.

I think they are on the right lines in describing an open networked system: “Depending on their political affiliations users can join groups or factions, they can create their own Facebook profile and forums, they can organize sessions, events and protests, which can be posted on Webvotr.”

I like their idea of having an iFrame that allows the app content to be viewed on other websites (though I’m not techy enough to understand how that works alongside Facebook).

There are also a few areas where I think the project might be taking a risk.

First, Webvotr plans to create a separate group for each administrative unit, which seems to go against the natural networks model that I mentioned above. Local groups might work, particularly if they are linked to offline activity, but there’s a risk of Empty Restaurant syndrome – where a low-traffic group doesn’t attract traffic because people don’t see anyone interacting there. This was one of the problems with the BBC’s iCan project about ten years ago. They had a sub site for pretty much every parish in the UK, but even the marketing reach and trust of the BBC couldn’t draw people in.

Second, and more fundamentally, I wonder whether Europe is ready as a society for online-first political engagement. As I said above, I don’t think that there are many success stories in online political discussion (as opposed to online political campaigning). There seems to be a scaling problem, or a trade-off between size and culture, where small focused groups or groups that are “on the same side” can create positive cultures, but larger participation reduces the quality of the interactions.

Perhaps we’re getting closer to that time, we’re certainly closer than a few years ago, but I wonder how Webvotr answers the inevitable challenge to its representativeness – how can it represent those offline, and how can it avoid just giving a stronger voice to those who (through education, wealth or position) already have a strong voice?

None of this should take away from the idea, however. It’s good to have people like Gabor working on initiatives such as this – particularly in Hungary, where there are some clear and present threats to democratic process. I think Webvotr has the right fundamental philosophy – support people to talk and involve themselves in their areas – and I wish it a great deal of success.

Profile photo of John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Citizens Involved in Redevelopment of Ulm Central Station, Germany

5. July 2011 – 11:48 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Photo by xaibex on Flickr

Starting today (5th July 2011), citizens in the German city of Ulm are invited to take part in a discussion on the redevelopment of the central station. The online discussion platform, developed by DEMOS Gesellschaft für E-Partizipation mbH, will be online until 29th July.

The first building block of the Citybahnhof concept will be the development of a new concept for the central station itself, which will involve the participants in discussing which aspects they feel are important in terms of design and transport connections to the city centre. As well as the more detailed subject matter, there are more wide-ranging issues which citizens can discuss and make suggestions about; for example the organisation of the new central station, the public transport hub at the station, getting to and from the station as well as spatial planning aspects.

The basis of the disussion will be nine draft designs. The redevelopment of the central station is possible in the medium term and the rest of the area will follow in subsequent years and will be the subject of further consultation exercises.

How’s your German? You can take a look at the site at:

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The construction of our “Kyopol System” has officially started

9. June 2011 – 12:11 by Asociacion Ciudades Kyosei / Pedro Prieto-Martin

News from the Asociación and our main project (english version at the bottom ;-) ).

Como resultado del nuevo escenario creado en España por movimiento cívico “15M”, que ha inundado las plazas de las principales ciudades españolas (y algunas del extranjero) con sus demandas de una “Democracia Real YA”, en la Asociación Ciudades Kyosei hemos decidido “ponernos las pilas”, para producir cuanto antes una versión alpha del sistema “Kyopol” (aka. “Ciudad Simbiótica”), que podamos poner al servicio de todos los procesos de activación cívica y movilización social que deberían ahora darse, barrio a barrio, en todas las ciudades de España.

Ello nos ha demandado un un cambio de actitud: se hace necesario establecer un equipo más amplio, repartir responsabilidades… y así crear algo útil cuanto antes.

Pues bien, tras un par de reuniones muy productivas ayer martes y el pasado domingo… ¡¡el proceso de creación del Sistema Kyopol se considera “oficialmente iniciado”!!

El Sistema Kyopol (aka. “Ciudad Simbiótica”) fomentará la Implicación Cívica y la “Activación Ciudadana” en los ámbitos municipal y regional. Permitirá a los ciudadanos informarse, formarse y colaborar unos con otros en la mejora de su entorno vital, trabajando en aquellas temáticas que cada uno considere importantes.

No sólo eso: buscaremos que usando el Sistema Kyopol… ¡¡podamos pasarlo “de miedo”!! Que sea una experiencia tremendamente placentera, incluso divertida, eso de unirte a otras personas para implicarte en el “cuidado de lo publico”.

Para la Asociación Ciudades Kyosei… ¡¡haber logrado alcanzar este hito es algo sensacional!! Queremos agradeceros a todos los simpatizantes de la asociación el apoyo que nos habéis brindado hasta ahora y advertiros… ¡¡que ahora es cuando empieza el trabajo de verdad!!

Nuestro trabajo se desarrollará a partir de ahora mediante la estrecha colaboración de dos equipos:

  • Primeramente, el “Grupo impulsor” -compuesto por informáticos, investigadores y personas vinculadas con la participación- construirá prototipos del sistema y establecerá las metodologías, los recursos participativos y los arreglos institucionales que formarán parte del sistema.
  • En segundo lugar, el  “Colectivo de pioneros”, integrado por representantes de todos los colectivos que usarán el sistema (desde ciudadanos y asociaciones de vecinos a políticos y técnicos municipales, pasando por medios de comunicación, ONGs, sindicatos y partidos políticos y, por supuesto, ahora también movimientos sociales del estilo 15M, DRY y demás bichos que éstos engendrarán en los próximos meses), que nos ayudarán probando los sucesivos prototipos del sistema, y proporcionandonos feedback en relación a las funcionalidades y procedimientos que propongamos.

Construcción Kyopol

En base a ello, podremos disponer de una versión Beta del sistema, lo suficientemente madura para iniciar proyectos piloto. Primeramente en el entorno de Madrid -que es de donde provienen la mayoría de nuestros Pioneros”-, y posteriormente en todas las regiones de España, y finalmente en el ámbito Latino-Americano y Europeo.

Si tenéis interés en formar parte del “Colectivo de Pioneros”, por favor contáctanos cuanto antes.

Planeamos realizar un acto de presentación del proyecto a todos sus potenciales interesados, en las instalaciones de la Universidad de Alcalá. ¡¡Os invitamos a tod@s a que nos acompañéis en el evento!!

Os mantendremos informados (podéis seguirnos en la web de la asociación, facebook o twitter).


Urged, and inspired, by the emergence of the #SpanishRevolution, which  has crowded the main squares of many spanish cities (and several foreign ones too!) to demand a “Real Democracy NOW!”… we have tried to accelerate our association’s projects.

And… after a couple of very productive meetings on Tuesday and on last Sunday … the construction of the “Kyopol System” has been “officially started”!

Kyopol (aka. “Symbiotic City”) will promote “citizen activation” and civic involvement in the municipal and regional levels. It will allow citizens to inform themselves about civic issues, “educate” themselves on how to “participate”, and collaborate with each other to improve their shared living environment, by collaboratively working on those issues that each one considers important.

Actually, our aim is that by  using Kyopol we citizens will  be able to experience a great deal of fun (and proudness!). Isn’t that the way that “meeting fellow citizens to jointly care and work for the common good” should taste?!

For the Asociación Ciudades Kyosei… having reached this milestone is something sensational! We want to thank all supporters of the association for the help we have received so far, but also warn them… that the real work is about to start!!

Our work will be developed through the collaboration of two teams:

  • First, the “Core Team”, which is mainly composed of developers and citizen participation’s researchers, practitioners and stake-holders, who will work together to construct prototypes and establish the participatory methodologie,s the formative resources and the institutional arrangements that will surround Kyopol.
  • Second, a “Pioneers Team”, that integrates representatives of all groups that will use the system (citizens, neighbourhood associations, governments oficials, politicians, NGOs, media, social movements, etc…). They will act as “Alpha testers”, and will help us testing our prototypes and providing feedback in relation to the functionalities and the participatory methodologies and resources we propose.

Construcción Kyopol

Based on this work, we will construct a Beta version of the system, mature enough to initiate pilot projects. These will first first in the surroundings of Madrid, where most of our Pioneers are located, and will afterwards get extended to several regions in Spain, and finally to the wide Latin American (and European) environments.

The next milestone we are planning is a meeting at the University of Alcalá, where the project will be presented to all potential stakeholders. Collaborative work will start immediately afterwards.

We’ll keep you informed (and you can follow us on our website, facebook or twitter).

Profile photo of John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

The Surf’s Up! German Local Authorities And Social Media

7. June 2011 – 11:44 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)
picture of a ship

Photo by Wrote on Flickr

Like their counterparts worldwide, local authorities in Germany are working out how to surf the web in something that is more like a huge ship than a surfboard, and how to provide something that surfers want instead of intruding on what they are doing and making them flee for the safety of the beach. As one PEP-NET Member, the City of Hamburg, publishes its social media guidelines, I review social media in German public administration.


The current issue of Kommune 21, a German E-Government magazine, gives a good overview of the social media landscape in Germany. There is a piece on Stuttgart’s comprehensive strategy for integrating several social media tools to ensure that their message gets to its target audience whilst remaining open to feedback; the City of Moers is also trying out several social media tools and has developed social media guidelines; and the City of Braunschweig reports how it has helped create a community of equals, Facebook users who exchange insider tips on which restaurants and cafés to go to.

However, Germany is well known for its suspicion of anyone who attempts to collect their data, whether the state’s pre-emptive collection of telephone records or Google’s photographing people’s houses for Street View. (Try taking a tour of a German residential area on Google Street View and you will see that many people have had their houses blurred out.) This issue will not go away, what with the increasing importance of cloud computing and the wealth of online applications that we use day to day. So Datenschutz, or data protection, is high on the agenda and warrants a place in all social media guidelines, including Hamburg’s.

Hamburg’s recently published guidelines explain some of the most common tools, describing social media use by German local authorities and providing examples of scenarios in which social media could be used. The case studies come from across Germany and indeed from across the world: from San Francisco’s activities on Twitter to the Stadtwiki Karlsruhe via Maerker Brandenburg, the Fix My Street-like service that allows citizens to report problems to their local authority and view status updates online.

On top of that, the suggested scenarios illustrate what can be achieved with social media, and how to go about it. These fictional scenarios are: a directorate uses Facebook, a district office publicises times for vaccinations on Twitter, the Culture Directorate posts videos of cultural events on YouTube, the HR department uses XING to acquire new staff, a senior official blogs, and a directorate conducts a survey with SurveyMonkey.

Each of these scenarios is accompanied by a flowchart which really nails down the procedure that has to be gone through when setting up something as simple as a WordPress blog: the departments that have to be consulted, the problems that have to be anticipated, the extra work involved and issues that have to be considered. I found this part especially interesting because, although it may seem onerous to go through such a long procedure for setting up a Twitter account, I think it is right to be honest with the public and employees about the reality of social media within a large public sector organisation like Hamburg.

So there is a lot going on in Germany in the field of open government, which thanks to projects such as Apps 4 Berlin and Munich Open Government Day, which open data to the public and encourage enthusiasts to develop apps that make use of them, is not limited to social media use. Maybe more on that in a later blog post …

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E-participation for poverty reduction?

17. May 2011 – 10:30 by openaid

Can e-participation help to reduce poverty in Africa? Is it a suitable tool to improve the effectiveness of aid projects and to reduce corruption in the aid business? These questions may surprise you, as PEPNET is a network of organisations and individuals working in Europe and even in Europe it is challenging to design well-functioning e-participation processes. OpenAid has been a member of PepNet for a few months and I would like to make our long-overdue self-introduction by describing our vision of e-participation in development cooperation.

OpenAid is a small association based in Germany and our background is evaluation of development projects. Traditionally, funding organisations, like the German ministry for economic development and cooperation (BMZ) commissions experts to visit projects, e.g. in Africa and assess these projects based on predefined criteria. While this type of project evaluation a very dominant feature of the development business, it has only limited value. In an evaluation, for example of a water project in Southern Cameroon, only the questions that are most interesting to the donors in Germany and to the project managers get asked. Concerns that people living in the project areas may have will not be addressed, if the project management is not aware of them or does not want to address them.

In addition, most citizens in a project area are not able to talk to the evaluators, due to the tight time schedule of evaluations, distances in the project area and language barriers. Providing feedback about a project on a regular basis is close to impossible.

We at OpenAid are convinced, that this lack of feedback in aid projects is a big problem, and we think that advances in technology and social media can help to fix the feedback loop. This is where we why we are interested in experiences about e-participation in Europe. What are the lessons learnt in Western Countries about the conditions for successful e-participation? And which of these lessons are applicable to development cooperation?

We call our e-participation project public online monitoring of development aid. In our thinking there are several elements to public online monitoring:

1) General information about aid projects: The more information and the more open the information, the better. This strand of our work links us to the open data movement. International development cooperation has been very slow to provide information in accessible format to a wider public. But currently the aid transparency debate and open data initiatives in development cooperation are gaining momentum. OpenAid has been promoting aid transparency, and particularly the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) since 2009. We are currently organising a major open aid data event in Berlin for September 2011.

2) Mobile Technology and Connectivity: Costs for providing and distributing information to a large audience have plummeted due to the advances of technology in recent years. Of course, in many rural areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America, good internet connections are not self-evident. But mobile services can substitute regular internet connections to a certain degree. This is why we are very interested in the creative use of SMS and other mobile applications. For the time being it is also possible to experiment with public online monitoring in urban areas e.g. in Africa that have good internet access. We are convinced that access to the internet in rural areas will continue spread in the coming years.

3) Online communities: Where should people go to provide feedback about a water project, about a health clinic or about a school feeding programme? Where is the virtual comments box for aid projects? One option would be for large aid projects to set up their own online community. But it will probably be difficult to generate enough among citizens living in the project area and other concerned people to bring such a community to life. This is why we propose to use existing social networks, where people already connect, to monitor projects that interest them. Traditionally these social networks were community meetings e.g. in churches and mosques. Today, social media networks can complement offline communities. So, we have in mind to “project groups” on social media networks like Facebook. On the one hand Facebook has a fast growing number of users in e.g. development countries. On the other hand, however, the criticism about Facebook is increasing and other social media networks may be more appropriate.

In our advocacy work on aid transparency we have seen, that migrants from Africa, Asia and Latin America tend to have a strong distrust of the aid system and strong feelings about misuse of funds in development cooperation. Therefore we are currently exploring possibilities to cooperate with migrant communities in Germany to build online communities around individual projects or around development cooperation going to geographically limited areas.

Other possible drivers of online communities are donors themselves. The example of AKVO in the Netherlands demonstrates, that even governmental aid agencies are recognising the value of collecting public feedback on projects via the internet. We are hoping that other donors will follow the same path.

4) Choice of projects: Finally, we are convinced that not all aid projects are amenable to public online monitoring. Projects targeted at young, urban, educated people are probably more suitable then projects targeted at elderly, rural, illiterate citizens. Projects delivering direct services like health programmes or water projects will probably attract more interest then projects focused on administrative reforms in ministries or projects targeted small minorities in the population.

Until now, OpenAid has been active on the precondition of public online monitoring: access to open data on aid activities. We are just taking the first steps to make public online monitoring a reality. We hope that successes and failures of e-participation in Europe will help us make good choices in this process and hope to be able to share our experiences with member of PEPNET in the future. If you have any comments on our concept so far or if your organisation is interested in collaborating on this project, please contact me under!

Profile photo of John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

The PEP-NET Christmas Survey: Trends in eParticipation 2010 and 2011

17. December 2010 – 17:25 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

You’ve joined us for live chats on the blog, taken part in our online discourses, chatted to us at conferences, read PEP-NET members’ articles, and downloaded the free PEP-NET Issue of JEDEM. Eighty-six of you even came to Hamburg to join us for the PEP-NET Summit. Before the year is out, we would like to ask you take part in one final activity: our survey “Looking Forward, Looking Back: eParticipation Trends in 2010 and 2011.”

So what were the main trends in 2010? What areas of eParticipation made particular progress, and what events defined the eParticipation calendar? And while you are thinking about trends, what do you think will be up and coming in 2011? Nobody can predict the future, but it will be interesting to find out how 2010 was for friends of PEP-NET, and what they expect in 2011.

When I’m back in the New Year, I’ll put together a summary of results. I think it will make for interesting reading – but only if you take part, that is!

In the meantime, from Edinburgh to Athens, Madrid to Minsk: wherever you are, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!