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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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Go with the flow… or not

9. August 2010 – 15:00 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Call Centre, by vitorcastillo on Flickr

Call Centre, by vitorcastillo on Flickr

In the course of researching our keynote speakers for the PEP-NET Summit I came across two articles, one of which is very relevant to (e-)participation, and the other will be of interest to anyone working in or with the public sector. They both put a matter of conventional wisdom under the microscope:  in one case, the assumption that bigger engagement excercises are always more valuable, and in the other, the idea that economies of scale improve efficiency. Hence, they both challenge the assumption that bigger is better.

So the message is not to go with the flow — unless it’s economies of flow you’re talking about. Confused? Then read on …

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Dilemma of eParticipation – How to Frustrate People

21. April 2010 – 16:18 by echo source

eParticipation is often equalized with “digital democracy”. Top-down approaches are based on the assumption that participation means involving citizens in governmental power structures. As governmental power builds on the development and execution of policies, it has been tried to make citizens participate in policy making. This led to the idea of a direct digital democracy, where virtually every law could be drafted and decided on by the citizens themselves. However, this vision of open virtual parliament or digital democracy faces several serious difficulties. Firstly, because of the lack of technical solutions for scalable discussion & co-editing, collective drafting is not possible with existing online tools. Thus, there is still plenty of space for new innovations in this field to overcome such technical constrains. More importantly, such a participatory digital democracy would be characterized by single-issue decisions. This certainly can be seen as one of its greatest advantages. But if open drafting would generally result in binding laws, its democratic legitimation would have to be guaranteed. Thus, citizens would have to participate in virtually every running decision at local, regional, national and European level at the same time. Since this is absolutely impossible, decisions would be made by random sets of participants (probably mainly lobbyists) without any democratic legitimation. Clearly, eParticipation cannot and should not be understood as an alternative for existing representative democracy, but rather as a complementary instrument.

To solve this dilemma, today´s eParticipation initiatives do not allow citizens to make binding decisions. Instead they ask people to contribute their ideas and preferences to preparatory stages of official decision-making processes. The binding decisions are still made by the institutions and their traditional decision-makers. In fact, eParticipation today is limited to eConsultations. It neither really empowers citizens, nor does it take into account their very own issues and concerns. As a result, the motivation for participation is very limited.

Instead of having been empowered, many participants may feel somehow betrayed or used to legitimate official decisions. From this perspective, eParticipation might be more interesting for decision-makers than for most citizens, who mainly look at politics as something quite boring and frustrating, which they do not feel very attracted to.

This article is an extract from our paper for this years EDem conference in Krems.The whole paper will be published by the Austrian Computer Society under the titel „BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN BOTTOM-UP AND TOP-DOWN E-PARTICIPATION APPROACHES


The EDem conference series is jointly organised by the Danube University Krems and the University of Economics and Business Administration, Vienna.

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Democracy in Crisis?

12. April 2010 – 11:29 by echo source

Today humanity is facing an enormous multi-crisis dilemma – creating an ever-growing complexity of interrelated local, regional and global problem-patterns. Political decision-makers have a hard job finding appropriate solutions and depend more and more on scientific advice [1]. Leading advisers Martin Lees (Secretary General of the Club of Rome) and Karl-Henrik Robèrt (Founder of the Natural Step) have recently pointed out (in a personal conversation), that this incapability to come up with appropriate solutions has got systemic roots. Our institutions are built to cope with single issues within limited regional scopes, thus they are not apt to deal with such multi-crises-dilemma. Therefore, the generation and collection of information, its conversion into institutional knowledge and its use in decision-making processes have been recognized as crucial tasks [2].

From this point of view, our current multi-crisis-dilemma can be understood as a general crisis of today´s democracies, basically caused by its over-complexity and the lack of appropriate knowledge management systems based on the integration of collective knowledge.

It is now widely accepted, that only multi-stakeholder-inclusion can support our institutions with the necessary knowledge to face our challenges at stake. This requires a more networked approach of governance and a knowledge management based on public spaces for policy deliberation [3], [4].

But although the resulting frustration in the European population is manifested in decreasing voter turnouts on the one hand, and the use of ICT for eCampaigning and proactive action planning increases on the other hand, most eParticipation projects show quite a low citizen participation [5]. To understand this paradox it would be important to have a closer look at the technical tools and socio-political concepts being used in today’s eParticipation.


[1] Hisschemöller, Matthias: Participation as Knowledge Production and the Limits of Democracy; In: Maasen, S. & Weingart, P. 2005: Democratization of Expertise?: Exploring novel Forms of Scientific Advice in Political Decision-Making, Dordrecht, NL

[2] OECD 2003: The learning government: Introduction and draft results of the survey of knowledge management practice in Ministries, 27th session of Public Management Committee, 3-4th

[3] Blumler, J.G., Coleman, S. 2001: Realizing Democracy Online: A civic commons in Cyberspace, IPPR/Citizens Online Research Publications, No 2, Mar 2001

[4] Centeno, van Bavel, Burgelman 2005: A Prospective View of e-Government in the European Union, Electronic Journal of e-Government, Vol. 3, Issue 2, 59-66

[5] Millard, J.2009: eParticipation, European Journal of ePractice, No. 7, March 2009

This article is an extract from our paper for this years EDem conference in Krems.The whole paper will be published by the Austrian Computer Society under the titel „BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN BOTTOM-UP AND TOP-DOWN E-PARTICIPATION APPROACHES - E-PARTICIPATION AS ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP”

The EDem conference series is jointly organised by the Danube University Krems and the University of Economics and Business Administration, Vienna.

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“Le regole della partecipazione”. Due giornate di studio all’Università di Perugia.

5. March 2010 – 21:55 by University Bergamo

Per chi oggi è interessato alle pratiche emergenti della partecipazione – cittadini, associazioni, partiti, apparati amministrativi, parlamenti e governi – è sempre più cruciale mettere a fuoco lo statuto giuridico, gli spazi di istituzionalizzazione della partecipazione e l’attuazione concreta delle opportunità partecipative collegate.
I vincoli o i limiti delle sperimentazioni hanno spesso a che fare con i gap fra diversi livelli d’azione e possono soffrire di un debole o ambiguo raccordo con le normative. D’altra parte i problemi non sono solo ‘procedurali’, ma si pongono anche sul piano sostanziale: l’esclusione politica dei cittadini corrisponde spesso ad una esclusione sociale e rimanda quindi ai problemi dei contenuti della cittadinanza. Una comprensibile ansia di novità – ‘nuovi’ metodi per partecipare, ‘nuove’ tecnologie applicate alla partecipazione, come nel caso del Web 2.0 – può far dimenticare questi aspetti e può condurre a trascurare sia le opportunità già presenti negli ordinamenti giuridici dei sistemi democratici e forse poco valorizzate, sia i limiti delle sperimentazioni in corso. Allo stesso tempo è necessario tener conto dei caratteri delle culture giuridiche (e politiche) che caratterizzano ciascun paese.

In due dense giornate internazionali di lavoro l’Università di Perugia propone un’occasione preziosa di riflessione e confronto su questi ed altri temi più specifici collegati.

Al link indicato è possibile trovare tutte le indicazioni sull’iniziativa.

“Le Regole della partecipazione. Cultura giuridica e dinamiche istituzionali dei processi partecipativi”.
Università di Perugia, 11-12 Marzo 2010

Anna Carola Freschi
(Università di Bergamo) Read the rest of this entry »

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Making Europe more democratic? Participate in live discussion on Thursday 1 February @ 14:00 CET

11. February 2010 – 10:57 by Danish Technological Institute

Live streaming of the “Making Europe more democratic?” debate on Thursday 11 February @ 14:00 CET at

The debate aim to answer an array of questions relevant to democracy and surrounding the new European Citizens’ Initiative. The event will be hosted by Richard MEDI?, European Media and Communications Expert (former AER Spokesman).

The main speakers include: Sebastian KURPAS, a representative from the European Commission and Johannes W. PICHLER, Professor for European Law at the University of Graz and Director of the Austrian Institute for European Law and Politics in Salzburg (AT).

The initiative is part of the “AER Communications Atelier” under the new European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) the Steiermark Office Brussels will be hosted by the AER (Assembly of European Regions). It is also the first time the “AER Communications Atelier” gives interested parties the opportunity to follow the discussion as a live-stream and to participate actively in the discussion on

Danish Technological Institute/Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen

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eParticipation, its cousins and democracy

3. December 2009 – 15:37 by Bengt Feil (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

This is the first in series of article on the role on the evaluation of eParticipation projects and their role in participatory democracy, which will be posted by the members of the TuTech team over the course of the next weeks.

There is a general agreement among many actors in democratic societies that there is a lack of possibilities for political participation. New media and the internet especially have been heralded as solutions to this problem and while eParticipation cannot replace other forms of participation and solve the democratic deficit once and for all it can help to improve the overall democratic culture in a society.

A strong democracy has to offer different participatory processes to answer a variety of needs of both citizens and government bodies. An election for example is excellent in involving almost the whole population in a decision making process but is very restrictive in its options (e.g. parties and people to vote for) and does not facilitate deliberation. A public hearing on the other hand can only be attended by a relatively small number of people but offers an open space to discuss many different options and develop compromises in collaboration. One cannot state that one form of political participation is “better” than the other but both processes answer specific needs by citizens and government and contribute to the democratic culture at large.

To support the before mentioned point there is the need to discusses what kind of dimensions can be used to categorize a participation process. The following list of dimensions (which will be picked up in following articles) is be no means complete but shows how many different variables have to be taken into account to understand the different forms of participation processes:

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Web 2.0 Update: 5th Ministerial eGovernment Conference and 4th European eGovernment Awards

12. November 2009 – 16:22 by Danish Technological Institute

Much focus has been on Web 2.0 technology as an enabler for wider dissemination, awareness raising and not least participation and transparency. It is therefore interesting to see that Web 2.0 technologies are being used in various ways for a range of purposes in this year’s 5th Ministerial eGovernment Conference, 18-20 November, in Malmö (Sweden) and 4th European eGovernment Awards.

Webcast of conference sessions

The plenary sessions and three of the parallel sessions at the Ministerial eGovernment Conference will be webcast live and on demand this year from the conference website In addition the ceremony for the 4th European eGovernment Awards will most likely also be the subject of a webcast.

The programme is available on

Twitter flies over Malmö 18-20 November

In addition to RSS feed, Twitter feed is available onthe Ministerial eGovernment Conference website Participants are actively encourage to Twitter about the Informal Ministerial Meeting on eGovernment and the 5th Ministerial eGovernment Conference to use the hashtag #egov2009.

Online vote for European eGovernment Awards Public Prize

Following success of the first online vote in relation to the European eGovernment Awards 2007 in Lisbon (Portugal) the European Commission and the European eGovernment Awards Consortium decided early onto continue practicing what they preach.  The objective has been to: increase the visibility and status of public sector ICT projects in Europe; encourage good practice exchange, and; to encourage active involvement and participating in the European eGovernment Awards by the and wider stakeholder communities.

The online voting for the European eGovernment Awards Public Prize was therefore launched late this summer and closed on 11 November at 18:00 CET. Members of the community have been able to vote for their favorite cases from among the 52 European eGovernment Awards 2009 finalists.  The online vote is in addition to other ICT initiative by the awards consortium and the European Commission for a fully electronic submission process via and the remote evaluation of the received submissions by the jury in the first phase of the evaluation.

The voting is now closed but the 52 finalist cases remain published at and are open to receive members’ comments.  The winner of the Public Prize will be announced at the awards ceremony on 19 November at 18:30 – and likely to the subject of a webcast.

Virtual exhibition

For the first time the European eGovernment Awards finalist are accessible online through a virtual exhibition. The virtual exhibition can be visited on (NB: for practical reasons you have to register). Naturally an electronic version of the conference exhibition catalogue will be available on as of 19 November when the Ministerial eGovernment Conference and Exhibition opens.

Other news

Ministerial tour of European eGovernment Awards Finalist stands

A ministerial tour of the European eGovernment Awards Finalists stands will take place on 18 November 2009 at the Ministerial eGovernment Conference and Exhibition. 

Finalist country fact sheets

To enhance the promotion of the European eGovernment Awards Finalists 2009 17 country factsheets from those European countries from which finalists have been selected for the European eGovernment Awards 2009. The factsheets are published in English but will be made available in the relevant national languages in the beginning of November. The fact sheets are available with other dissemination material on

News and background

Danish Technological Institute/Morten Meyerhoff Nielsen – European eGovernment Awards Consortium Partner

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Malmo09: the popular conference

15. October 2009 – 16:12 by Madarász Csaba

Most of us has heard about the 5th Ministerial Conference and pre-conference taking place in Malmö late November. However the top politicians are forming the agenda of e-government development, the sound of experts and citizens could be also heard in the same city – and of course over the waves of the net.
Beside the fact, that the Open Declaration on Public Services will be presented on the Ministerial conference, another conference , the “popular Malmo09 event aims to offer a memorable creative statement of what Europeans really want from e-enabled government.”

Taking place at the beautiful location of the Garaget, organizers are offering a wide space for engagement and opinion forming and an artistic presence. In their own words:

Anyone interested is welcome to apply to speak, participate contribute ideas or help in any other way. It is particularly aimed at European digital-rights organisations, consumer advocates, and those with a political, academic, artistic or design interest in e-government. No presentation will last longer than eight minutes. Music, pictures and video content is welcome. The event will close with awards for the “pertinent art” which best expresses popular feeling about e-government, and for the best independently coded or mashed-up projects based on public data or public services.

Please spread the call for artwork you can download it here:

The conference is supported by

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