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Opening Policy Horizons Open Data Driven Analysis and Impact Evaluation
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Policy Compass at Central and Eastern European e|Dem and e|Gov Days 2016!

Fri, 04/22/2016 - 10:54

The main theme of this year’s Central and Eastern European e|Dem and e|Gov Days conference (CEEEGOVDays 2016) is to explore how ICT can act as an enabler for transparent and open policy-making process.

The conference aims to answer questions such as: How can IT contribute to the aforementioned goal? What are the chances and the risks of the use of ICT to promote a European system of Multi-Level eGovernance? What are best practices which could serve as a model for the development of such a system?

This conference addresses public sector practitioners and policy makers, industry professionals and academia alike. The disciplines covered are primarily information sciences, law and administrative science, political science, sociology and economics.

Policy Compass will be represented by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and will be presented a scientific publication titled “A New Indicator of Social Welfare: A Citizen Centered and Open Data Oriented Approach“.

Stay tuned for more details!

Categories: News

Blog Post #08 – Prosperity Indicators: What, Why, How

Mon, 02/29/2016 - 14:02

A bit of history

As (Innes & Booher, 2000, p.173) claim “Indicators and performance measures have become an important element in policy initiatives relating to sustainability and to the re-invention of government”. The idea of employing quantitative indicators in order to evaluate policy implementation goes back to the ‘40s, when the US economy was being evaluated in terms of the Monthly Economic Indicators (Wong, 2006, p.1ff). The idea of exploiting social indicators and developing a theory for defining, using, combining and interpreting them, passed from the US Administration to the large international organisations such as the United Nations (UN, Social and Economic Council) and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).

The wave of interest around prosperity indicators has been significantly motivated by the global questions on environmental matters and has led to a series of approaches, typically associated to the keywords ‘indicators for quality of life’, ‘sustainability indicators’, sometimes combined with other widely used terms in public discourse, such as `economic competitiveness’, etc. (Sawicki, 2002). As an indication of the widespread interest, let us mention that the European Union has issued a set of recommended ‘European Common Indicators’ focusing on ‘monitoring environmental sustainability at the local level’ while, some years earlier, a call for suitable ‘indicators for sustainability’ had been included in Agenda 21 of the Earth Summit Conference (1992, Rio de Janeiro), which marked an avalanche of actions and initiatives.

One of the major concerns in the construction and exploitation of indicators has been the access to the relevant data and the difficulties in the collection and reliability of the data needed in order to calculate and interpret social metrics. The revolution of the WWW and the Open Data Movement, conceived as “the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control”  arguably opens a new arena of experimentation with social indicators. This idea lies at the heart of the Policy Compass approach and thus, in this deliverable we will also provide a quick review of the contemporary situation of Open Data.

What is an indicator?

The term ‘indicator’ is one that people can easily understand. It is regularly conceived as a sort of ‘statistical measure’ that can adequately capture crucial aspects of a (social) phenomenon that should be monitored, in particular when a specific policy measure is enforced to affect it. Perhaps then, the simplest and most general definition is that of (Innes J. E., 1990): an indicator is “a set of rules for gathering and organising data so they can be assigned meaning”. In the policy-making arena, an indicator is conceived as a concrete tool used for justifying and optimizing resource allocation. From the scientific perspective, social indicators can be examined both from the theoretical and the practical viewpoint.

A quick look at the typology of indicators

In the preceding subsection, the (abstract) notion of an indicator has been given some well-known definitions. Yet, we should have in mind that it is usually the quantitative nature of indicators which makes them potentially interesting and useful. At this point, it certainly makes sense to see how indicators are perceived by the people who work on their calculation and exploitation, at least technically.

Aggregate (or summary) indicators: An aggregate or summary indicator concentrates information into a single figure. Examples include Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Consumers Price Index (CPI).

Composite (or integrated) indicators: Composite or integrated indicators draw from, or reflect, interaction between different areas such as the environmental, economic and social dimensions. An example would be the Human Development Index (HDI). An aggregate indicator can also be a composite indicator. To use this type of indicator successfully, awareness and acceptance of the assumptions that have gone into its construction are required.

Decoupling indicators: Decoupling is a (desired) outcome, such as having reduced energy consumption along with increased economic growth. The decoupling process can be very complex, so indicators aiming to show whether it is happening need to be developed with care.

Headline indicators: Some indicators may be selected as headline indicators – usually because they describe key issues. They are often supported by a subset of indicators. Usually they form a quick guide or overview and can be used to engage public awareness and focus attention. For instance, the UK sustainable development project has 15 headline indicators that are used to make up a quality-of-life barometer. Headline indicators may include composite indicators or other types of indicators, depending on the reporting focus.

International, National, Regional and Local indicators: Indicators are used at all levels, including international, national and regional and may be referred to as national and regional indicators. Indicators can be produced for lower levels such as community scheme monitoring where local indicators may refer to. For example, data gathered at the subnational level to produce regional indicators, could feed into national or international indicator reporting.

Proxy indicators: Proxy indicators are indicators that measure one aspect of a system that is thought to be reflective of a wider system. For example, lichen species are used as a proxy for air quality, and insect species in waterways may be used as a proxy for water quality.

Sustainability and other topic based indicators: Indicators may belong to a set that builds a picture of a whole system or framework, such as sustainability indicators. Sustainable development integrates development and developmental reporting across the economic, environment, cultural and social domains. Sustainability indicators refer to the monitoring of sustainable development.

On the methodology of defining Social Indicators

The description below draws directly from (Wong, 2006, Chapter 7), a very readable presentation. The steps of the methodology comprise:

  • Step 1: Conceptual consolidation – Clarifying the basic concept to be represented by the analysis
  • Step 2: Analytical structuring – Providing an analytical framework within which indicators will be collated and analysed
  • Step 3: Identification of indicators – Translation of key factors identified in Step 2 into specific measurable indicators
  • Step 4: Synthesis of indicator values – Synthesizing the identified indicators into composite index/indices or into analytical summary

What makes a `good’ indicator?

According to OECD, a well-defined and useful indicator should comprise (UNEP, 2014):

  • Policy relevance: the indicator needs to address issues that are of (actual or potential) public concern relevant to policymaking. In fact, the ultimate test of any single indicator’s relevance is whether it contributes to the policy process.
  • Analytical soundness: ensuring that the indicator is based on the best available science is a key feature to ensure that the indicator can be trusted.
  • Measurability: the need to reflect reality on a timely and accurate basis, and be measurable at a reasonable cost, balancing the long-term nature of some environmental, economic and social effects and the cyclicality of others. Definitions and data need to allow meaningful comparison both across time and countries or regions.

References

Innes, J. E. (1990). Knowledge and Public Policy: The Search of Meaningful Indicators,. New Brunswick: NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Innes, J. E., & Booher, D. E. (2000). Indicators for Sustainable Communities: A Strategy Building on Compexity Theory and Distributed Intelligence. Planning Theory and Practice, 1(2), 173-186.

Sawicki, D. S. (2002). Improving community indicator systems: injecting more social science into the folk movement. Planning Theory & Practice, 3(1), 13-32.

UNEP. (2014). GREEN ECONOMY: Using indicators for green economy policy making. Retrieved from http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/Portals/88/documents/PAGE/IndicatorsWorkingPaper.pdf

Wong, C. (2006). Indicators for Urban and Regional Planning: the interplay of policy and methods. London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis.

Categories: News

Policy Compass 6th Plenary Meeting @ Madrid, Spain

Mon, 02/29/2016 - 13:22

The 6th Plenary Meeting of the Policy Compass consortium was hosted by ATOS in Madrid, UK between the 24th and 25th of February, 2015.

The participants had fruitful exchange of ideas on the upcoming public launch of the project’s platform, as well as on the plans for the Policy Compass pilots’ operation.

Past and future dissemination activities, as well as the project’s exploitation plan, were also discussed.

20160224_120601

For future news and insights, stay tuned on our website and the project’s social media!

Categories: News

“Enabling Effective Policy Making” Workshop: Proceedings now available!

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 22:26

Policy Compass, along with other Global Systems Science projects, organised a Workshop in the context of the dual EGOV / ePart 2015 conference, titled “Enabling Effective Policy Making – Coupling the Power of the Data with the Wisdom of the Crowd”.

The main purpose of the Workshop was to disseminate the project’s platform and up to date results to all participating stakeholders, as well as stimulate discussion on all participating projects.

The workshop’s proceedings are now available (open access) though CEUR Workshop Proceedings: http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-1553/

Categories: News

Policy Compass at eChallenges e2015!

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 10:17

eChallenges e-2015 (hosted in Vilnius, Lithuania) attracted participation from senior representatives of leading government, industry and research organisations around the world.

The goals of eChallenges e-2015 were to promote ICT Entrepreneurship and Innovation, facilitate Information Society and Applied ICT related knowledge sharing between government, industry and research stakeholders, raise awareness of the current state of eAdoption in developing countries, stimulate rapid take-up of RTD results by the public and private sectors, and identify opportunities for ICT related research and innovation collaboration under Horizon 2020.

DSSLab NTUA, partners in the Policy Compass project, attended many sessions and presented a scientific paper titled “Lessons Learnt from the Use of Prosperity Indicators in Policy Making: Towards Community-Generated Indicators“.

20151125_153517

The respective presentation can be found here.

Categories: News

Policy Compass at EGOV / ePart 2015!

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 14:01

The annual international IFIP EGOV conference is the top-2 ranked core conference in the domain of ICT in the public sector and the public sphere. Each year, scholars from all over the globe present the most recent advancements and findings of research and innovations in e-Government, e-Governance and related fields of study.

The annual international ePart conference is the top-ranked conference in the domain of electronic participation and the 5th-ranked overall conference dedicated to information technologies in the context of public administration and the public sphere.

DSSLab NTUA and Brunel University, partners in the Policy Compass project, presented a scientific paper titled “Policy Compass: FCM-based Policy Impact Evaluation using Public Open Data“.

The respective presentation can be found here.

Categories: News

Policy Compass Workshop in the EGOV 2015 and ePart 2015 Conference!

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 11:34

The annual international IFIP EGOV conference is the top-2 ranked core conference in the domain of ICT in the public sector and the public sphere. Each year, scholars from all over the globe present the most recent advancements and findings of research and innovations in e-Government, e-Governance and related fields of study.

The annual international ePart conference is the top-ranked conference in the domain of electronic participation and the 5th-ranked overall conference dedicated to information technologies in the context of public administration and the public sphere.

Policy Compass, along with other Global Systems Science projects, will organise a Workshop in the context of the dual conference, titled “Enabling Effective Policy Making – Coupling the Power of the Data with the Wisdom of the Crowd”. The main purpose of the Workshop will be to disseminate the project’s platform and up to date results to all participating stakeholders.

We look forward to meet you at EGOV ePart 2015 in Thessaloniki! For more details, download the (draft) conference program here.

Categories: News

Policy Compass 5th Plenary Meeting @ Cambridge, UK

Fri, 06/12/2015 - 14:55

The 5th Plenary Meeting of the Policy Compass consortium, accompanied by a two-days technical one, was hosted by the Cambridgeshire County Council in Cambridge, UK between the 9th and 11th of June, 2015.

The participants had fruitful exchange of ideas on the upcoming milestones regarding the project’s platform, as well as on the plans for the Policy Compass pilots’ operation.

Past and future dissemination activities, as well as the project’s exploitation plan,  were also discussed.

20150609_134114

For future news and insights, stay tuned on our website and the project’s social media!

Categories: News

Policy Compass at EMCIS 2015!

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 12:00

The European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Conference on Information Systems (EMCIS) is an annual research event addressing the IS discipline with regional as well as global perspective. EMCIS 2015, held in Athens, Greece, brought together researchers from around the world in a friendly atmosphere promoting free exchange of innovative ideas.

Policy Compass, represented by Brunel University and DSSLab NTUA, organised a workshop in the context of EMCIS 2015. A demo of the (under development) Policy Compass platform was showcased to participants, followed by active discussions and exchange of ideas and opinions.

IMG_1117

In addition, both Brunel University and DSSLab NTUA presented scientific papers relevant to the Policy Compass developments and findings titled:

  • Navigation in Politics – Fuzzy Cognitive Map and Argumentation Approach for Policy  modeling and Analytics” and
  • Policy Impact Evaluation through Prosperity Metrics and Open Data Sources” respectively.
Categories: News

Policy Compass at 4th International Symposium on Operational Research!

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 12:45

The 4th International Symposium and 26th National Conference on Operational Research was held in Chania, Greece between 4th and 6th of June 2015 aiming to disseminate recent scientific advances in operational research and management science (OR/MS) and to promote international co-operation among researchers and practitioners working on OR/MS.

DSSLab NTUA, partners in the Policy Compass project, gave a project-oriented presentation titled “Policy Impact Evaluation Through Prosperity Metrics and Open Data Sources“.

Compass_HELORS_2015

Participants were engaged in an active discussion on the project’s findings and advancements, as well as for the upcoming milestones and next steps.

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The respective presentation can be found here.

Categories: News

Blog Post #07 – Visualisation in Policy Compass

Mon, 04/27/2015 - 12:51

The increased availability of data has also led to a significant evolution of impressive new ways to visualise and analyse those data sets. There are endless ways of viewing, analysing, interacting with and understanding data. Users are constantly becoming more and more used in tools allowing them to interact with data and visualisations.

Visualisations in Policy Compass provide the means to visualise any form of datasets uploaded from open data sources or modified through the use of indexes and metrics within the Policy Compass platform. Those visualisations are available in the form of interactive graphs, bar charts, pie charts and maps. The platform provides all the tools needed to create and share interactive visualisations from open data available in Policy Compass and also through data mashups by mixing up different datasets in order to compare performance of different organisations. Visualisations also provide the ability to annotate graphs with the use of historical events from a pool of trusted historical events available in the Policy Compass platform.

The Policy Compass platform allows visualising datasets in the form of line charts, bar carts and pie charts since the first version of the platform. After the initial release, improvements and new functionalities are added within each subsequent release. The image below shows a visualisation created in Policy Compass with the title “Germany’s Labour Market 2002-2013” which describes the convergence of employment and unemployment in Germany between 2002 and 2013. Policies that affected the labour market are presumed to be part of the Hartz reforms.

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The above visualisation is annotated by three historical events which describe the effect of those events/policies on the data representing the employment and unemployment in Germany. The details below show the information of those historical events which are reflected with the corresponding colour on the above graph.

2

In the second version of the platform expected by June 2015, the following important functionalities are expected to be available:

  • An option will be added below the graph which will allow the visualisation of the same graph in the form of % by setting the initial point of the graph to 0. This will permit the visualisation of the increase or decrease of data over time having as the same point of initial reference.
  • Recommendations will be available when annotating graphs with historical events. When initiating the wizard and before one searches for relevant historical events, they will be presented with recommendations based on the date clicked on the graph, the datasets used, etc.
  • Visualise data over maps since the platform will support the storage of location data. Data will be represented on top of the corresponding locations on a world map with bubbles, maintaining the same colours as in the rest of visualisations for consistency. The size of the bubble will represent the data itself. A time slider will be available to show how data changes over time. An example is shown below.

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Categories: News

CfP: “Enabling Effective Policy Making – Coupling the Power of the Data with the Wisdom of the Crowd”

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 10:16

You are cordially invited to participate to the Workshop entitled “Enabling Effective Policy
Making – Coupling the Power of the Data with the Wisdom of the Crowd“.

The workshop will be held in conjunction with the eGov/ePart 2015 Conference. eGov is established as the major European event addressing eGovernment Research with the sponsorship of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP).

The purpose of this workshop is to present and discuss the up-to-date methodologies and findings of five of the projects constituting members of the Global Systems Science (GSS) cluster and promote active dialogue among the participants.

Important Dates

  • Deadline for the submission of papers: 01 June 2015
  • Notification of acceptance: 15 June 2015
  • Camera-ready paper submission: 15 August 2015
  • Workshop: 31 August 2015

 

Papers Submission Guidelines

  • Papers must be in English and describe original work.
  • Papers should not exceed 12 pages in total.
  • Papers will be peer-reviewed.
  • Authors should submit their contributions by email to the Workshop Organisers via email, sending their contribution to the following addresses askous@epu.ntua.gr and skous@epu.ntua.gr

For more details, please find the relevant CfP here.

Categories: News

Blog Post #06 – Policy Compass in the Leningrad Region

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 21:42

The Leningrad Region of the Russian Federation is one of two field trials for the Policy Compass project. The region’s Administration joined the project as an associate partner together with the e-Governance Center of the ITMO University – the only Russian project partners. The Leningrad region was chosen because of its strong interest and commitment to the project’s goals, as well as its long standing and successful co-operation with the ITMO University in the area of e-Government and Information Society development.

The focus of the aforementioned trial is the implementation of the Regional program “Development of the Information Society in Leningrad region in 2014-2018″ which is the successor of a series of federal and regional programs devoted to the promotion of e-governance in various fields of public administration in the region in 2002-2013. The recognition of the importance of these programs for both the economy and society of the region is reflected in the level of interest and high importance given to this topic. There is a real need for harmonization of program goals, activities and indicators with the urgent and long-term interests of citizens and businesses. Among the decisive factors to include the Leningrad region as a pilot in the project were the presence of a rich history of related normative documents as well as precise socio-economic data. which reflected the result and impacts of previous projects.

Despite the fact that in recent years a lot of Internet-based instruments for bilateral G2G, G2B and G2C interaction tools, and jointly-used IT systems and data warehouses have been implemented, their effective use has evolved slowly and their impacts are still insignificant.

Until recently, the lack of available information about the results, and user-friendly tools for analyzing and forecasting the results of such Regional programs led to a loss of public interest in them. Under these circumstances, the Administration prefered the use of “comfortable” indicators that helped the preparation of positive reports; however, little actual benefit was brought to local citizens and business.

With the rapid development of open data and state-of-the-art tools to work with, this situation changed radically and the Policy Compass methodology and tools will help overcome problems such as:

  • The sometimes passive nature of citizens’engagement with policics and policy making due the lack of open socio-economic data and tools to analyze it;
  • Lack of civil servants motivation to meet the real needs of local citizens and business;
  • Lack of analytical support for policy-making processes.

Policy Compass offers the Leningrad Region’s citizens and policy-makers a novel and user friendly platform for analyzing various factual indicators and the ability to compare them against the planned ones both in their region, as well as in other regions within the Russian Federation and around the world.

The Committee on Information and Telecommunications Administration of the Leningrad Region is the most interested and involved department in the trial structure. In the context of the pilot implementation, the Committee with the support of the e-Governance Center, will offer metrics and data sets, propose schemes of their interrelations in the form of fuzzy cognitive maps (FCMs) and try to use the Policy Compass tools to visualize, analyze, explain and improve expected outcomes of the previously mentioned Regional program.

To begin with, the simplified model will be used to analyze the relationship among aggregate indicators such as quality of life, quality of public services and functions, performance measures for the development of the information society etc. Furthermore, the gradually improved and wider set of tools for open government data analysis, results’ visualization and their collective discussion will provide appropriate conditions to involve a critical mass of citizens and policy makers in the processes of the open policy development. This should have a positive impact on the Program’s goals setting and prioritization, formation of optimal project portfolio and the selection of appropriate performance indicators. As a consequence, a radical increase in efficiency and effectiveness of the implementation of Regional programs and projects, as well as improving quality of life in the region are expected.

Categories: News

Policy Compass 3rd Plenary Meeting @ Fraunhofer FOKUS, Germany

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 12:31

The 3rd Plenary Meeting of the Policy Compass consortium, accompanied by a two-days technical one, took place in the Fraunhofer FOKUS premises in Berlin, Germany between the 9th and 11th of February, 2015.

The desirable advancements from the technological point of view, as well as the up to date achievements were mainly discussed. Fruitful discussions on the project’s publications and dissemination activities were also realised.

IMG_20150210_102328

Categories: News

Policy Compass at eChallenges 2014!

Thu, 11/27/2014 - 16:43

The eChallenges 2014 conference was held in Belfast, Ireland between 29th and 30th of October 2014 and provided an international forum to foster ICT related entrepreneurship and innnovation, share experiences, increase awareness of innovative applied ICT applications and research results, and identify opportunities for research collaboration under Horizon 2020.

DSSLab NTUA, partners in the Policy Compass project, presented a scientific paper titled “Towards more factual, evidence-based, transparent and accountable policy evaluation and analysis: The Policy Compass approach“.

IMG_29102014_163250

The respective presentation can be found here.

Categories: News

Policy Compass Presentation at the GSS Meeting!

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 15:11

On Wednesday November 19th the Global Systems Science (GSS) Cluster came together in the EC premises in Brussels, Belgium.

More than 50 participants watched the presentations of the cluster’s projects and were engaged in an active and fruitful dialogue focusing on ideas’ and knowledge exchange, as well as on investigation of possible synergies amongst the presented projects.

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Policy Compass was presented by Fraunhofer FOKUS and received interesting questions and suggestions.

The relevant presentation can be found here.

EU-Community, CONSENSUS, SENSE4US, GLODERS, ePOLICY, EUNOIA, INSIGHT, EVERYAWARE, XLIKE, CONGAS, Simpol, GrowthCom, SYMPHONY, CRISIS and MOOC for Policy (Etoile) were also presented in the context of the GSS Cluster meeting.

Categories: News

Policy Compass Presentation at EGOSE 2014!

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 10:44

The EGOSE 2014 was held in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation between 18th and 20th of November and addressed issues of concern within the Information Society, e-government, e-governance, and e-democracy.

ITMO, both organisers of the EGOSE Conference and partners in the Policy Compass project, presented a scientific paper on “Assessing Governmental Policies’ Impact through Prosperity Indicators and Open Data“.

EGOSE-PolicyCompass

The respective presentation can be found here.

Categories: News

Blog Post #05 – Policy Compass and Adhocracy

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 16:14

Adhocracy is an open source software, implemented on various online-platforms thereby enabling citizen participation and collaborative working on texts, strategies and urban planning projects. The free and open source online-tool was launched by the Liquid Democracy Association, a non-profit organisation founded in 2009 in Berlin. The Liquid Democracy Association sees participation as one of the most basic elements of and challenges to contemporary democratic societies. To successfully master this challenge of participation and to achieve the best outcome from it, the Liquid Democracy Association has developed and provided Adhocracy, a tool combining the potential of technical innovation and a broad background knowledge on democracy. Adhocracy has been developed in order to make political and public discourses and decision-making processes more open, more transparent, commonly accessible and as a result all the more effective. Believing that participation is multifaceted and commonly needed, Adhocracy is constructed as a modular software, allowing its application to various contexts and user groups such as civil associations, regional projects and of course politics and administration. Adhocracy is a flexible instrument, which stands in the context of technical innovation, social change and the more and more complex decisions societies are facing today.Adhocracy

To guarantee the continuous further development of the concepts, projects and participation software Adhocracy, the Liquid Democracy Association works in reiterative cycles: Adhocracy (development of the open source software, testing it and developing new ideas for its application); Adhocracy.de, Ypart and OffeneKommune (application of the software on the three participation platforms); FoLD (research network of various institutions that evaluate online participation processes based on Adhocracy).

Online tools and e-participation

Under the influence of the Internet, diverse and constantly expanding forms of public communication are more and more understood as an opportunity for a stronger integration of direct-democratic elements into (political) decision-making and public governance. This hope, put on the use of the Internet and digital media technologies, is based on the idea, that democratic participation can become more effective by using new and different ways of formal organisation through online-tools, which supplement offline processes.
Another thought, illustrating the potential of online-based tools is the idea that with the help of online-tools and e-participation, it becomes possible to involve more people and broader publics in political decision-making. Recently, it has often been referred to the notable gap between the level of civil information on the one hand, and the comparably low level of civil participation on the other hand: while more and more people have interest and background knowledge in politics, real political participation still has to be supported and fostered. Through involving broader publics in the communication and decision-making process form the very start, decision-making becomes more effective and more credible since the resulting decisions are born by the broader public. There is reason to believe that a higher level of participation and integration will help to improve the acceptance of political actions, countering a documented „loss of legitimacy“ on the side of public decision makers in politics and in administrations. Here, online-tools can provide a low-threshold and cost-effective solution for participation and a modern idea of democracy.

The Adhocracy platform (adhocracy.de)

Adhocracy enables users to commonly discuss political matters or interests and to critically engage with them by using the tool’s different functions, such as commenting, discussing and ranking. Adhocracy thus allows the production of accessible discourses and their evaluation with a dynamic feed-back-culture that can take place during the discussion. At the same time, discussions on Adhocracy can be monitored by users or administrators, so that the process of communication and decision-making is transparent and visible to every user and comprehensible for the public. This helps to follow and retrace the decision-making and public discourses from the very incipient discussion to the resulting outcomes. On online platforms implementing Adhocracy, political issues and matters of public interest can be discussed openly and collaboratively with everyone who wishes to engage. The outcome of Adhocracy supported collaborative participation processes reach from collaborative text-work, drafting of charters to concrete and comprehensible decisions.
As Adhocracy offers the possibility to assign various roles to the different stakeholders involved in a participation process, the tool offers an effective solution for moderation and organisation of the whole communicating process. Consequently, interested citizens can actively contribute to the matters and discussions that interest them, time and place independently. After a basic registration with a username and a password, every member of a launched Adhocracy-platform can produce, read, comment, evaluate and follow the discussions online.

Features in Adhocracy

Adhocracy has so far been used in different contexts united by the principle aim to facilitate low-threshold and accessible participation. Its modular structure allows for the Adhocracy software to be applied to different situations and matters of discussion – for example regional urban-planning groups, youth organisations, political parties, students’ lobbies, associations and more. In the following we want to list the main features of Adhocracy that contribute to the process of effective decision-making and transparent discussions.
To begin with, Adhocracy works independently of the place and time from where or in which participants chose to engage with the discussions that are held on the platform. Users can follow discussions and engage, no matter from where they are. This helps to avoid barriers that arise in classical offline-participation. Secondly, Adhocracy is collaborative and thus enables transparent interaction. Decisions thus become credible and comprehensible. At the same time, the online-participation process enables each individual stating personal opinions, share knowledge to a community and to be informed and involved into the process of decision-making. As Adhocracy works with feedback functions and comments, it is a low-threshold and dynamic feature that meets innovation and participation. Adhocracy therefor can act as a joint between politics, administration and citizens.

Adhocracy and Policy Compass

The Policy Compass wants to effectively evaluate European policies and open the discourse on these. In this context it is an important research question, how various methods and tools can effectively be integrated in this process in order to increase the power of collaborative tools for policy making and evaluation, without sacrificing usability and inclusiveness. The efficiency of collaborative work and the achievement of high-quality participation are thus important matters in the context of the Policy Compass. To this effect, Adhocracy functions as a tool for both, the internal discussion on the Policy Compass and as an initial participation platform, as the software offers discursive and participative structures at the same time. The choice for Adhocracy in the context of the Policy Compass is based on specific features such as it being an open source software and a generic purpose platform enabling text editing, discourse, delegation and voting. These features guarantee a qualified process of discussion or decision making with a large number of users. Adhocracy has already been used by a wide range of user communities and within a wide range of contexts with different stakeholders in projects in Europe and Africa.Thus, within the Policy Compass project the Adhocracy service is implemented to facilitate discussions on various levels. On the one hand, users will be able to communicate with each other more generally about topics and policies of their interest – perhaps also to start off the collaborative work and research they are planning to conduct on the platform. On the other hand, Adhocracy services will be implemented in such a way that users can discuss individual elements that have been produced on the Policy Compass platform itself, such as metrics and visualisations thereof. The aim is to integrate the discussion and proposal functions of Adhocracy in such a way that all metrics, Fuzzy Cognitive Maps, historical events and metrics visualisations that are created by the Policy Compass community can be discussed. Ideally this way the Policy Compass community can help each other in researching and testing the policies that interest them. Another goal for a later stage of the platform is to closely integrate Adhocracy with the argumentation service Carneades to find a way to visualise discussions and debates.

Current and past projects (excerpt)

Adhocracy is deployed in various exciting projects:

urbanliving.berlin.de

Urban living was initiated by the city of Berlin to discuss an architectural competition in which different architects presented their proposals for various (empty) spaces and properties in Berlin. This was used as an opportunity to discuss pressing issues and topics about social housing, housing prices, etc.

Tempelhofer-feld.berlin.de

In a huge referendum in 2014 the citizens of Berlin decided to keep the Tempelhofer Feld as a park for recreational activities. What should happen to the former airport in the heart of Berlin is discussed and decided online with Adhocracy.

publixphere.net & noc.publixphere.net

Publixphere is a German platform for debates about European politics, which also organises the Network of Internet and Society Research Centers in collaboration with partners such as the Alexander von Humbodt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

The charitable servers of the Liquid Democracy Association include:

adhocracy.de

Anyone can start their own participation or collaborative work processes on adhocracy.de for free. Go to the website to check out one of the over 500 participation projects.

ypart.eu

Ypart is designed for international Youth participation projects.

offenekommune.de

On OffeneKommune.de all German municipalities have the chance to involve their citizens.

Categories: News

Blog Post #04 – Policy Compass in Cambridgeshire

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 20:10

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Adult Learning & Skills (ALS) Service is one of 7 partners involved in the Policy Compass project.

In Cambridgeshire, Policy Compass will be trialled as part of the policy process centred on the new Skills Strategy for Cambridgeshire running up to 2020 which is a major policy decision process for the County. The vision for the Skills Strategy is to improve the skills of young people and adults across Cambridgeshire.

At a local level ALS holds the Cambridgeshire Adult Learning Fund (CALF) which is available every year for organisations to bid for to develop skill levels within communities. The fund is used to distribute resources to local training agencies that specialise in adult learning. Via this fund ALS aims to commission, deliver and support learning in ways that contribute directly to the core objectives of the Service and wider strategy which include:

  • bringing together people from all backgrounds, cultures and income groups, including people who can and cannot afford to pay
  • using effective local partnerships to bring together key providers and relevant local agencies and services
  • devolving planning and accountability to neighbourhood/parish level, with local people involved in decisions about the learning offered
  • involving volunteers and Voluntary and Community Sector organisation (VCSO) groups
  • supporting the wide use of online information and learning resources
  • minimising overheads, bureaucracy and administration.

The County of Cambridgeshire is made up of 5 districts council areas and each district area has a Community Learning & Skills Partnership (CLAS) made up of representatives from community or training providers, schools, job centres, local colleges and voluntary and community organisations. Each district has an allocation of CALF funding and an application process is in place where providers can bid for funding to deliver a project to meet the identified priorities. Information on this fund can be found at www.calf.org.uk.

With increasing amounts of data and information being made available online and with funding often focussed on outcomes, it has become even more important for funding recipients being able to evidence this and to be able to demonstrate the impact of the learning.

ALS will use Policy Compass as a policy modelling tool for the CALF budget. Policy modelling will allow the services to plan the provision and budgets of the fund. By using open data trends in learners and learning outcomes can be identified as well as areas where more work could be focussed. ALS will be using this tool to help demonstrate the impact of the Cambridgeshire Adult Learning Fund (CALF) which has been available for some years and through which a number of learning programmes and projects have been run.

The two user groups: the experts and community groups will be made up of those individuals directly involved in Community Learning. The CALF Panel will be the expert group. The Panel are responsible for allocating the CALF budget to training providers and deciding which projects get funded. The Community group will be made up of members of Learner Advisory Panel (LAPs). LAPs are a new development for the Service and are designed to engage service users directly with the Service, giving feedback and helping plan provision at a local level.

Categories: News

Policy Compass at EGOSE 2014!

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 09:40

The EGOSE 2014 (Electronic Governance and Open Society:
Challenges in Eurasia) aims to address the main issues of concern within the Information Society, e-government, e-governance, and e-democracy. The Conference provides a platform for networking and collaboration of eGovernance experts in the Eurasian area.

EGOSE 2014 will be held at St. Petersburg, Russian Federation on November 18-20, 2014.

Policy Compass will be represented by ITMO partner which is among the main organisers and contributors of the EGOSE 2014 Conference.

Categories: News

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