Acronym wars

February 9, 2012

Two EU projects, two challenging acronyms! The OCOPOMO Open COllaboration for POlicy MOdelling website and the COCKPIT. The first is described as a European research project developing an agent based model with the support of stakeholders, the latter is modelling service delivery.

I tried to register on COCKPIT but it s limited to those living in Greece, Italy or the Netherlands and a utility bill may be required as proof of residence. Another ‘seventh framework programme’ is the MOSIPS one, which is given the aim of Modelling and Simulation of the Impact of Public Policies on SMEs and so to develop a user-friendly policy simulation system allowing forecasting and visualization of the socio-economic potential impact of public policies.

So many acronyms, so many programmes…I certainly can’t keep track of them but hope someone is?

EU targets

May 29, 2011

On 27 May 2011 the Council of the EU adopted conclusions on the European eGovernment action plan for the period 2011-2015. As discussed in the We government post in December 2012, the aim of the action plan is to promote the take-up of eGovernment  services at local, regional and EU level, in order to make them more accessible and available for citizens and businesses throughout the EU, regardless of their country of origin.

The intention is for it to be much easier for people to apply for and access social security and health benefits, transfer pension rights from one EU state to another or study anywhere in the Europe.

The good point of the decision is that under the action plan, users will participate in shaping online public services in order to ensure that those facilities are best suited to their needs.

However, we are back to targets again and the action plan aims to increase the use of eGovernment services to 50 % of EU citizens and 80 % of EU businesses by 2015, strange when most of the Lisbon Treaty countries are supposed to be well past that by now!

The report is on the Consilium website.

The scores are published – so?

March 2, 2011

In January I posted about the forthcoming European 9th e-Government Benchmark Report, which was finally published on the 21 February 2011. A summary and link to all the necessary documents are available from the press release.

Since there were no surprises in January, other than Malta coming first, there can’t really be any now, and even Andrea di Maio thinks it’s time to pull the plug on this exercise.

Rather than picking on e-services, let’s have a look at how easily citizens and businesses can access, through any channel, those services that matter to them, and we won’t know what they are without asking them! The trouble with that being that what matters to a UK citizen isn’t necessarily what matters in Estonia or Malta, so the concept of benchmarking falls apart and CapGemini have to find another income stream…

Democratic participation

March 9, 2010

…or should that be participative democracy? No, the two are definitely not the same! However, so as not to get confused with a post about participation, per se, I thought some expansion necessary! Thanks to Jose Manuel Alonso for mailing the W3C e-government interest group with the European E-participation Summary November 2009. The authors include Ann Macintosh and the document attempts to play out both the necessity and practice behind e-participation in the light of the Lisbon Treaty of December 2007, which is now ratified.

It’s only 30 pages and fairly graphical but the key sections for me is number 24 on page 28 where it states:

“In a context where at least 30% of Europeans will not be online for the foreseeable future, where ICT is still in its infancy as regards participation, and where ICT is unlikely ever to meet all the needs of participation (especially those related to its social and community experience, and the needs for considered long-term and highly nuanced debate), multi-channel solutions are highly desirable.

  • eParticipation rarely stands alone. Both implementation and research should focus on why and how switching between channels occurs.
  • The role of intermediaries needs to be better understood and encouraged where appropriate.
  • eParticipation can be and often needs to be combined with traditional channels like meetings, personal consultations, mass media, the use of the telephone and mass mailings, etc.
  • Alternative e-channels like digital TV, kiosks, mobile phones could also be exploited especially for enhancing the participation of specific target groups.”

Which confirms for me that the EU is also getting it head around the fact that e-government is not a majority event and there will always be a significant minority to support. It also appreciates the little understood channel switching that occurs and needs to be seriously researched when designing systems.

An excellent report appreciating the challenges ahead!


March 1, 2010

No, not the ancient TV serial or the little sixties ditty by Cream, were talking about a multi-country EU project on “A Participative Roadmap for ICT Research in Electronic Governance and Policy Modelling.”

On the 17th February 2010 I legged it away from the office to see a presentation at York University by Ann Macintosh, the Professor of Digital Governance at Leeds University. It was an interesting 40 minutes, where I scribbled lots of notes, one of them being the above project, which she is running one strand of. The project is entitled IMPACT or “Integrated network for policy making using argument modelling & computer assisted text analysis.” I can’t seem to get the letters to tie up with the acronym, so one or the other may be wrong! The actual bit Ann is focused on is around argument analysis, tracking and visualisation. It only started on the 1 January, so don’t expect massive announcements yet but the idea is to pick up feedback from social and other media towards assisting the development of government policy.

Ann admitted that her background was as an engineer, and that she was employing her knowledge of artificial intelligence, first with e-petitions in Scotland, and now using more advanced tools for the EU.

being a philosophical term, so well used by my hero Immanuel Kant, for a contradiction.AntinomyShe and some of the audience appeared to agree with my observation that politicians in representative democracies were unlikely, in reality, to relinquish power to the citizens and encourage direct or deliberative democracy. So, all the talk of e-democracy that has appeared over the years in e-government literature is, in the immortal words of Joe Hill, little more than pie in the sky. In my academic work I have labelled this one of the antinomies of e-government.

As the Swiss and Swedish have demonstrated technology is not a requisite for more direct forms of democracy, but political willingness and constitutions may be!

Andrea strikes again

March 25, 2009

In his brief review of the new EU report, Value for Citizens, Gartner’s Andrea DiMaio, tempts the taste buds. He’s right in his criticisms but in a glossy twenty pages the authors can only be all things to all men and women.

For example, one of the classic recent arguments is how we manage e-governance in the traditional representative democracy, but the report suggests:

“Governments will empower local communities and localities, beyond formal politics and the ballot box, by promoting subsidiarity at local and neighbourhood level and interaction between policy makers and citizens. This leverages local resources, know-how and skills to develop new forms of political advocacy, social support and social capital and can serve to strengthen diverse cultures and interests as well as act as a bridge between them. ” (Page 13)

Great idea, but how? However, I can’t fail to agree with their take upon metrics:

“Performance monitoring of government services will move from the present top down, processdriven approach of setting targets and defi ning measurements towards a more user-centric and output-driven approach. Th is will incorporate more accountability of local needs and organise feedback loops involving front line staff and users of government services themselves. ” (Page 14)

Which is exactly my proposal!

World Wide Web Consortium

February 18, 2009

If you thought nothing much went on at W3C in relation to e-government you’d be sadly wrong. Churning away in the background is the e-government Interest Group which has produced amongst other things a list of up-to-date international reports relating to e-government available at:

Another very recent report is the 240 page one done by Deloittes for the EU – STUDY ON USER SATISFACTION AND IMPACT IN EU27

The report is basically the preparation for a more detailed study but is testing the instruments (i.e.surveys) to be employed in the bigger exercise. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, the main outcome is that  home users lag behind business users, along with the fact that measuring ‘satisfaction’ is not straightforward, perhaps one of the reasons I’ve started looking towards collecting dissatisfaction.