Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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Exploring the Governance-ICT nexus at City level in Europe

3. February 2011 – 00:06 by Francesco Molinari

On January 31st, a group of academic researchers, city managers and consultancy professionals was gathered into a single-day expert advisory meeting led by IPTS, the European Commission’s Institute on Prospective Technological Studies, and Eurocities, the network of major European cities, to discuss and evaluate the preliminary results of an exploratory study carried out jointly by the two organisations over the past couple of years.
The study, called EXPGOV, has by now collected a huge amount of evidence on the most likely areas of impact of ICT on governance, based on a survey of about 60 out of 446 EU cities with 100,000 inhabitants or more from all 27 Member States (plus Croatia and Switzerland), and later on the preparation and analysis of four detailed case studies (Barcelona, Berlin, Manchester, and Tallin), the results of which were presented for the first time during the meeting.
In my opinion, the big merit of this effort is to have raised the issue of assessing ICT impact on middle- and large- sized city governance on a systematic basis in Europe – probably for the first time ever, as strange as this may appear. In that respect, it is a preliminary answer given to the key questions: “Where do we stand? Where should we go?” and also the photograph of work in progress, showing a fair deal of convergence between old and new Member States, south and north of Europe, relatively larger and smaller communities, both in terms of problems tackled with and solutions offered to approach them. Particularly the survey questionnaire (which was anonymously filled out by several kinds of stakeholder, including city managers or their delegates) provided evidence of a number of “flagship projects” that must have been making the difference in a number of European city contexts.
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How Google is planning to deal with governments

21. January 2011 – 10:15 by Bengt Feil (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Yesterday Eric Schmidt stepped down as CEO of Google and he will act as the executive chair starting April 2010. The founder Larry Page will take over the day-to-day operations of the company (Sergey Brin will mainly focus on product development from now on). The impacts of these changes are discussed all over the web and I will not try to do that here.

But there is another interesting angle on this whole issue. In his role as executive chair Mr Schmidt will be working on Government relations more heavily than before which might have a major impact on how the net is regulated and how Google interacts with government – which in turn could influence the field of eParticipation.

Taking this into account it makes sense to take a look at what Mr Schmidt said about his plans in terms of government relations. In the Q4 2010 Earnings Call he stated that he thinks that the problems Google had with governments in last few years (accidental collection of wifi data or the Streetview debate in Germany) might stem from the fact that “people don´t really understand what we really do and what we don´t do”. He follows up with the statement that the core strategy will be do communicate more intensely with regulators and government – “We are trying to be as transparent and collaborative as possible”. He also makes clear that Google thinks that regulators have an important job to do and that “they are there for a reason and we respect that”.

While Mr Schmidt makes clear that there is a need for more communication between government and the company he also says that he thinks that what Google does is “very pro competitive” – answering the complains that Google might behave anti-competitive in some areas like for example favouring their own products in search results.

In summary it looks like if Mr Schmidt will be more active in working with governments in the next years and I would argue that it is good for both the company and governments. Without a doubt he is a very knowledgeable and straight discussion partner for governments and from a citizen’s point of view his involvement might help to both improve internet regulations and speed up the process towards them.

Picture from

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eGovernment Action Plan, Citadel Statement and ECI regulations

15. December 2010 – 10:25 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Far from winding down for Christmas, this week sees a lot of European eParticipation-related activity in Brussels and Strasbourg. The launch of the eGovernment Action Plan, the presentation of the Citadel Statement and the expected adoption of regulations on the European Citizens’ Initiative by the European Parliament in Strasbourg mean that this is a busy week for European eParticipation enthusiasts.

At the “Lift Off Towards Open Government” in Brussels, Digital Agenda Commissioner and Vice President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes will launch the eGovernment Action Plan 2015. Following the launch, the conference will hear from eParticipation and eGovernment actors from the Commission and across Europe.

At the pre-conference yesterday, Geert Bourgeois (Vice Minister-President of the Flemish Government and Flemish Minister for Administrative Affairs, Local and Provincial Government) launched the Citadel Statement, a pan-European declaration that aims to identify what local government really needs to deliver on the vision set forth in last year’s Malmo Ministerial Declaration on e-government. The Citadel Statement, the result of an open discussion in which anyone could makes suggestions and vote on other people’s suggestions, is broken down into the following headings:

  • Common Architecture, Shared Services and Standards
  • Open Data, Transparency and Personal Rights
  • Citizen Participation and Involvement
  • Privacy and Identification of Individuals
  • Rural inclusion

Click here for a PDF version of the full press release.

Finally, the European Parliament will vote on regulations that specify in more detail arrangements regarding the European Citizens’ Initiative. The Lisbon Treaty made provision for one million citizens to force the Commission to consider initiating legislation in any area within its remit. A recent petition online called on the Parliament to adopt “effective regulations for the European Citizens’ Initiative”; see my previous post.

Geert Bourgeois, Vice-Minister-President of the Flemish Government and Flemish Minister for Administrative Affairs, Local and Provincial Government

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Citizen Space launches- an open source consultation and engagement platform

25. November 2010 – 18:39 by Delib

PEP-NET member Delib has launched Citizen Space, an open-source consultation and engagement platform.  Citizen Space has been developed as a collaborative project between the UK Government and digital democracy company Delib, and has been designed to help government departments to set-up, organise and publicise consultations across the internet with one easy-to-use system.


Co-design has been at the heart of the Citizen Space project, with government departments involved at each stage of Citizen Space’s 12 month development process.

Easy-to-use and empowering

Key objectives that Citizen Space has been designed to address include:

- Manage and organise multiple consultations across multiple policy teams

- Share consultation information openly in a structured way

- Create a easy and robust way to create online consultations on complex policy documents

- Provide a way to easily analyse consultation data (both qualitative and quantitative)

- Provide a central space to manage / track responses – whether it’s online responses or postal responses

Open source

Citizen Space has been developed as an open-source consultation and engagement platform, enabling government departments and the wider digital democracy community to build on the foundations that have been developed, leveraging efficiencies by sharing development costs and benefits.

The open source nature of the Citizen Space platform also means that government departments are flexible in how they implement and use Citizen Space, as they’re not bound by specific vendor licenses.

An expandable suite of online engagement tools

Citizen Space is a set of open source software, which consists of Consultation Finder and Quick Consult. Importantly, Citizen Space is designed as an open-source platform which can be freely added to over time – with all improvements benefiting the government community as a whole.

Consultation Finder

Consultation Finder is a centralised hub designed to help in-house teams manage consultation processes efficiently online.

* Central platform for multi-partner management

* Consultation database to find and sort multiple consultations

* Easy-to-use content management system

* RSS syndication for sharing

Quick Consult

Quick Consult is an online consultation app designed to allow government departments to quickly and easily create an interactive policy consultation.

* Easily set up both linear and non-linear online consultations

* Let people comment on complex policy-documents

* Analyse quantitative and qualitative data

* Manage respondents live

To see a demo version of Citizen Space, visit

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E-Voting, change management and the US elections: PEP-NET chats to Manuel Kripp, MD of

18. November 2010 – 10:32 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Manuel Kripp, MD of

Manuel Kripp, MD of

Manuel Kripp, Managing Director of PEP-NET member, 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.

To find out what does, see their website or my previous interview with Manuel’s predecessor Robert Krimmer.

John Heaven: Hi Manuel. I hear you’ve been travelling recently. What were you up to?

Manuel Kripp: I was invited to participate in the 2010 U.S. election program organised by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), and by the the Electoral Assistance Commission (EAC) to observe the election on Tuesday 2nd November.

The conference was well attended by experts from around the world, including Thomas Wilkie (Chief Executive, IFAS), Doug Chapin (Pew Centre on the States), and Bob Carey (Federal Voting Assistance Program). The Jo C. Baxter prize was presented to Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of Ghana’s Electoral Commission, for invaluable contributions to democracy in Ghana.

The focus of my visit was on seeing how elections are conducted in other countries from around the world, and comparing the US electoral system with how things are done in Europe.

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Conclusions from the e-Democracy Conference 2010 held in Ohrid, Macedonia

16. November 2010 – 17:49 by Institute for Electronic Participation

e-Democracy Conference 2010 OhridThis year largest eDemocracy conference in South East Europe took place during 12-14th September, 2010 in Ohrid, Macedonia.

The e-Democracy Conference 2010 welcomed 30 delegations from 15 countries. 100 participants from Parliaments, Governments and Official Journals, as well as representatives from international organizations, business sector and academia were engaged in fruitful and interesting discussions about the role that ICT can play into improving the democracy and transparency of the public institutions.  More information about the conference is available at

The e-Democracy Conference 2010 topics included:

  • Future and emerging technologies for e-Democracy
  • Compliance and standards (EU perspective)
  • How to support “Green IT” initiative in the policy development
  • ICT in legislative knowledge management
  • How can information technology transform the way parliaments and governments work
  • Interoperability in the legislative process
  • Parliaments and Democracy in the Twenty-first century
  • State of ICT development in Parliaments
  • ICT in parliaments current practices
  • e-Parliaments-The Use of ICT to Improve Parliamentary Processes

The participants at the e-Democracy Conference 2010 agreed that the progress that Macedonia has made in using ICT for improving democracy is an example that all the countries in the region should follow.

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Second Life for eParticipation? An exclusive sneak preview of Birmingham’s Virtual Library

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 »

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Il ritorno di Montaione

12. November 2010 – 19:34 by Francesco Molinari

Per chi si fosse perso la prima edizione, ecco un’altra possibilità per un week-end lungo nella bellissima Montaione, vicino Firenze, in una due giorni di “full immersion” sulla partecipazione in Europa e nel mondo.

Le “Giornate di Montaione” è una conferenza promossa e sostenuta finanziariamente dalla Regione Toscana – bella sfida in questi tempi di ristrettezze di bilancio – come un appuntamento annuale, che quest’anno si terrà il19 e 20 Novembre (vedere agenda).

La lezione inaugurale del Prof. Stefano Zamagni, dell’Università di Bologna, ci intratterrà sulle relazioni fra crescita, democrazia e partecipazione. Come d’abitudine, saranno presentati e discussi un certo numero di casi di studio da dentro e fuori Italia, selezionati dal Comitato Scientifico guidato dal Prof. Luigi Bobbio dell’Università di Torino. Una Giuria di Cittadini composta di 24 persone estratte a sorte attribuirà il premio al miglior processo partecipativo realizzato in Toscana, la prima Regione italiana (non più l’unica!!) e forse in tutta Europa ad essersi dotata di una specifica legge sulla partecipazione, quasi tre anni fa.

Un premio speciale sarà assegnato al miglior paper scritto sull’argomento da un giovane ricercatore, quest’anno il Dr. Stephen Estlub dell’Università del West of Scotland, autore di “Linking micro deliberative democracy and decision-making: trade-offs between theory and practice in a partisan citizen forum”.

Per registrarsi si può inviare una e-mail ad ufficio.partecipazione AT allegando questa scheda.

Per altre informazioni cliccare qui.

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Montaione is back

12. November 2010 – 19:18 by Francesco Molinari

For those who missed the first edition, here is another opportunity to spend a couple of days in the beautiful town of Montaione, near Florence, to talk and listen about participation in Europe and in the world.

The “Montaione Days” conference is promoted and financially supported by the Regional Government of Tuscany as a yearly appointment – quite challenging in these harsh times of budget cutoffs – this time on 19 and 20 November (see agenda).

Keynote speaker will be Prof. Stefano Zamagni, from the University of Bologna, who will explain how growth, democracy and participation, can actually be linked together. As usual, a number of case studies from inside and outside Italy will be presented and publicly discussed, as they were selected by the Scientific Committee led by Prof. Luigi Bobbio from the University of Turin. A Citizen Jury composed of 24 randomly selected people will award the best participatory process from across Tuscany, the first Region in Italy (not anymore the only one!!) and possibly in the whole Europe to have voted a specific law on participation, almost three years ago.

A special prize will be awarded to the best thematic paper written by a young researcher, this year Dr. Stephen Estlub from the University of the West of Scotland, who wrote “Linking micro deliberative democracy and decision-making: trade-offs between theory and practice in a partisan citizen forum”.

To pre-register send an e-mail to ufficio.partecipazione AT using this form.

To get more information (sorry, in Italian) click here.

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Now Showing: The Citadel Statement

25. October 2010 – 17:21 by John Heaven (TuTech Innovation GmbH)

Photo by sugu on Flickr

It may sound like a film at your local independent cinema, but “The Citadel Statement” is actually the name of the Flemish Government’s online debate amongst European eGovernment practitioners about how to realise the aims set out in the 2009 Malmö Ministerial Declaration.

The initiative’s website states that progress towards achieving the Malmö vision has been limited because it has not been translated into on-the-ground progress. By submitting suggestions for ways in which national and EU-level decision-makers can help local government achieve the Malmö objectives, or voting on other people’s suggestions, users will contribute to the Citadel Statement to be presented at a special pre-conference on 14th December, in advance of the Flemish Government’s “Lift Off Towards Open Government” conference on 15th and 16th December.

The Malmö Declaration was signed unanimously in November 2009 and outlines a vision of eGovernment to be achieved by 2015.  The three main objectives are:

  • to empower businesses and citizens through eGovernment services designed around users’ needs, better access to information and their active involvement in the policy making process;
  • to facilitate mobility in the single market by seamless eGovernment services for setting up business, for studying, working, residing and retiring in Europe;
  • to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of government services by reducing the administrative burden, improving organisational processes of administrations and using ICT to improve energy efficiency in public administrations, which will result in a greater contribution to a sustainable low-carbon economy.

Let’s hope that the project is so successful that they make a film out of it. Well I’d watch it …