TED 06

Towards e-Democracy:
Participation, Deliberation, Communities

Mantova, Italy

24 - 26 October, 2006


Liam Bannon

Working through Technology - Representation, Mediation, Translation, (Mis-)Interpretation Download

In this talk I will examine some of the issues involved in developing computing technology to support people in their activities. I will provide some insights that have been gained from a variety of research fields over the years, including human-computer interaction (HCI), concerning the development of systems that people can actually use, participatory design (PD), concerning approaches and methods for inclusive and participatory design, and computer supported cooperative work (CSCW), concerning the support of ensembles engaged in coordinated activities. I will focus on how our perspectives on the nature of organizations and people as rational decision-makers or as sense-makers influence the kinds of support tools we develop, using examples from group decision support systems (GDSS). The role of representational media, and the importance of talk will be highlighted.

Carlo Buzzi, Andrea Brighenti and Letizia Caporusso

Translating void and null ballots from paper to touchscreen

The paper considers different types of spoiled ballots in local administrative elections and focuses on the effects that the introduction of electronic voting might produce. Drawing from empirical results of a research project carried out in the Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Italy, we show that both qualitative and quantitative investigation point to an increase of void (blank) ballots and to a decline of null (marked) ballots if the vote is cast by means of a touchscreen.

Todd Davies

From Messages to Meetings: The Challenge and Promise of Online Deliberation

The common goal defining online deliberation is simple: to use computer mediated communication for serious, purposive dialogue. There are many uses of networked communication today that meet this definition. But a crucial form of deliberation - that which occurs when groups of citizens collectively make decisions and plans - remains rare and difficult online, rendering face-to-face deliberation necessary in many contexts in which significant stakeholders are cut off by time or distance from participating in decisions that affect them. The gap between the present reality and the apparent potential of democratic online deliberation is initially puzzling, because the tasks taken up in face-to-face meetings can generally be mapped onto an online experience. Online tools could provide alternative ways for citizens to participate when attendance at a physical meeting is not an option, and the use of such tools might in some instances lead to better, more careful deliberation than occurs offline. Many people have had this vision, dating back at least to the early days of the Internet. Why, then, has online democratic decision making been so slow to develop? I will discuss barriers that have thus far stood in the way of "e-democracy" and outline a strategy for overcoming them.

Fiorella De Cindio, Antonio De Marco and Leonardo Sonnante

The election period as an opportunity to increase e-participation in a local community Download

Community Networks have been pioneer experiences for supporting e- participation in local communities. Although technologies are not the key success factor, the availability of a dedicated software may help in facilitating people participation. The paper presents the first experience of use of the prototype of a software for e-participation (called Deliberative Community Networks) performed in the occasion of the municipal elections held in Milan in Spring 2006.

Roman Efremov, Alexander Lotov and David Rios Insua

A framework for participatory group decision support using Pareto frontier visualization, goal identification and arbitration

There is a growing interest in promoting participation of lay stakeholders in public decision making processes, possibly with the aid of Internet based systems. This implies supporting non-sophisticated users and, consequently, developing user-friendly, yet rigorous, participatory group decision support methods. We outline a framework to develop such methods based on interactive Pareto frontier visualization combined with expression of preferences in terms of goals and using goal-based arbitration.

Simon French

The TED programme: Issues and Progress in Deliberative e-Democracy Download

The TED project is drawing to a close: four years of debate and discussion of how decision analytic ideas can help shape deliberative e-democracy and e-participation processes. What has the project achieved? What questions has it raised and what ones has it answered?

In this paper I shall look back on many of the activities that have been supported by TED, not to catalogue them but so that they may serve as milestones along the way to developing e-democracy. In doing so I shall raise a number of questions that suggest to me, at least, that we are only at the beginning of a very long road. We may have the technology and the analytical tools to involve the citizen in societal decision making over the web, but I wonder whether we humans have evolved individually, culturally and as societies to do so in an effective, transparent and valid manner.

Anna Carola Freschi

e-democracy in context: the Italian case Download

Carlos Grima and Jose A. Rubio

A general Architecture for e-government support

In this paper, we shall describe a number of issues concerning the use of ICT in politics, government, public administration, and public policy decision making at all levels (strategic, tactical and operational) suggesting a general architecture to support e-government. It will imply the use of negotiation algorithms, e-voting, computer security to transmit specially sensitive information (as the citizens’ political preferences), digital identification or signatures,.. Many of these ideas have been developed in the last few years, and the corresponding technologies are mature enough to be integrated in a global system that supports e-government. The system we aim at would support all public administrations in a given country, in line with various attempts at various countries in the EU. Such a big system would require a careful review of several architectural concepts and the development of new design patterns.

We shall start by describing some use cases and the role of the involved actors, including citizens, civil servants, private organisations, political parties and software agents endowed with a certain intelligence.

We shall, then, describe the general architecture. For that purpose, we shall divide the system in three main subsystems, we shall specify the main databases and will provide the interrelations. We shall provide the common features of the subsystems, their objectives and the various dependencies.

The first subsystem is that one in charge of interfacing with the involved actors. It will promote user-friendly and efficient communications with and between actors. We shall propose an intuitive graphical metaphore accessible to non-sophisticated users. We shall also describe how citizens may save time by delegating participation tasks to a software agent capable of learning the political ideology of its owner.

Another important subsystem is that regulating and managing administrative procedures, which consist of any interaction between a citizen, a civil servant, a political organization or party (or their representing software agents) and the government. Therefore, we also include procedures leading to a political decision. Among many others, we include paying taxes, asking for public financial support, voting in an election,… The subsystem will interpret the administrative procedures demanded, described in a standard format, to transform them in individual actions to be sent to the involved civil servants and governmental agencies.

The final main subsystem, represents the set of computerised governmental agencies (a townhall, a university, the Foreign Office,…). It is our core system, as all actions involved in administrative procedures will be addressed to it, submitted to the proper agency, which will return the actions referring to the administrative procedures.

Several governmental agencies will be specially relevant for the proper functioning of eGovernment. One of them is that in charge of coordinating political decision making, managing debates, negotiations, votes,… Depending on the involved decision, all citizens and/or all politicians, would be entitled to take part in. We shall pay special attention to the internal decomposition of this system to support public decision making.

Once the subsystems have been described, together with their internal decomposition and their interrelations, we shall face their dynamic behaviour, through some representative cases.

We shall finally speculate on how the transition from the current political system, with little ICT involved, to our proposed system might take place, taking into account the various financial, psychological and social barriers to be faced, to ensure sufficient success.

Johann Gamper

The eBZ Initiative: A Knowledgeable Transition Towards E-Government Download

In 2002 the Municipality of Bozen-Bolzano in collaboration with the University of Bozen-Bolzano started the eBZ initiative with the overall objective to foster the use of information technology in the local administration. Since that time a number of concrete projects and events have been activated that brought Bolzano closer towards this new form of public administration, also known as e-government, e-democracy, e-voting, etc. The presentation starts with an overview about the most important eBZ activities in the past. Most prominently, the international TED Conference on E-Government (TCGOV-2005) has been organized in Bozen-Bolzano from March 2-4, 2005. We will discuss the lessons learned and the impact of such activities on the e-government strategies of the Municipality of Bozen-Bolzano. It turns out that know-how and innovation are key aspects for a successful transition towards e-government.

Raimo Hamalainen, Jyri Mustajoki and Mika Marttunen

We have the tools ­ How to attract the people? Creating a culture of Web-based participation in environmental decision making

The proliferation of the World Wide Web has opened new opportunities to support participatory decision making. We now also have a number of Web-based tools to support participation and decision analytical methods. This opportunity is of special interest in environmental applications where we always have multiple objectives and multiple stakeholders who are often geographically in different locations. In spite of the attractiveness of the tools, we still have very limited number of users. In this paper, we discuss the ways and requirements to apply decision analytical tools in Web-based public participation. We demonstrate a framework to support participatory processes, which includes Web-based tools for decision analysis and participatory feedback. The applicability of the framework is discussed in terms of experiences obtained from three lake regulation applications in Finland. Our main message is that there has to be a strong commitment to create a culture of Web-based participation by case projects before the public stakeholders and the authorities can accept this new approach.

Manuel Villoria and Angel Iglesias

Participative budgets and the role of public administration: theoretical background, and case study from Spain Download

Civic participation at the local level has the capacity to strengthen democratic institutions, improve public service delivery and use, inform governance strategies, increase social capital, and legitimize local governments. Declines in social capital and civic participation over the past twenty years, as discussed by Putnam (1995) and Ramarkrishnan and Baldassare (2004), reduce the ability of local governments to govern effectively and provide the best services to their constituents, particularly among these governments' socially and economically disadvantaged residents. Without citizen input, local governments have trouble responding effectively to community concerns (Putnam, et al, 1994). The legitimacy of the city [rests] "in the form of government and the story it promise[s] - non-political, efficient, and responsive government" that both facilitates community involvement and delivers needed and desired services (Nalbandian, 1999:194). This trend toward decreased civic participation overall, such as low voter turnout, has been countered recently by significant increases in civic participation on the local level in many cities. These new forms and increased incidence of participation provide both cities and their residents an opportunity to reap the many potential benefits of increased citizen engagement.

Our rapidly changing and increasingly diverse world calls for improvements to the traditional form of representative democracy through civic participation strategies (Iglesias and Garcia, 2005). The process of globalization requires local governments to become active innovators in civic participation in an effort to redeem and legitimatize governance through democratic processes (Hise, et al, 1996). A 1993 Brookings Institution study by Tufts University professors argued that civic participation is "redemptive in three crucial ways. First, participation nourishes the democratic spirit of individuals. Second, it builds community, which in turn nurtures shared values such as compassion, tolerance, and equality. Third, and most broadly, participation transforms institutions so that they become more effective instruments of democracy" (Berry, et al, 1993:5).

By giving citizens access to additional tools and processes with which to advocate for their neighborhoods, effectively decentralizing local governance, cities have the opportunity to improve trust and governance (Harrigan, 1992). Chaskin and Garg (1997) argue that support for "neighborhood-based governance" comes from two complimentary beliefs - first, a belief in true democratic processes, and second, a belief that decentralized approaches to government are more responsive to citizens' needs (Chaskin and Abunimah, 1999:60). Thus, civic participation serves to enhance both functions of local governance, which are sometimes at odds with each other - democratic legitimacy and service delivery - and improve both democratic and managerial outcomes. In light of the many potential benefits of increased civic participation, various local governments in the United States and European nations have recently passed and implemented policies to aid in the creation of alternate forms of participation, to increase participation, and ultimately to improve local governance outcomes (Iglesias and Garcia, 2005). The central challenge of the near future is to evaluate these policies to determine whether they have generated significant improvements in civic participation and the governance outcomes discussed above.

As civic participation both legitimizes and improves governance, it is an essential component to local governance. Local governments have recently viewed citizens as active participants rather than passive consumers in the community decision-making process. Further, many seek to utilize citizen participation to improve municipal decision-making. The process of stimulating and maintaining civic engagement is ongoing, as the system strives to achieve the many potential benefits of increased participation at the local level, including enhanced democratic legitimacy and social capital, and improved governance outcomes.

The impact Participative Budgets are having on city governance is progressive and substantive, although there are many areas that need considerable improvement. While in Spain there are several experiences that show that the system has increased participation among many stakeholders, it has not reached out to all of the residents, and many experiences lack representative diversity. The system also lacks strong administrative and deliberative capacity, which is vital to the system's effectiveness. Many intermediate outcomes have been positive, however. On the local level, Participative Budgets have affected local issues. On the citywide level, the participants have made recommendations to the authorities on issues regarding land use and transportation, and revisions to community plans, resulting in improved service delivery and city policies.

The central challenges for the cities that have implemented these experiences now are to maintain this process of civic renewal and find new ways to improve its effectiveness, through improved outreach to under-represented residents, increased deliberative capacity, and the formation of additional social networks through which a process of Participative Budget can attain greater social and political influence. All of this will be discussed in our paper.

Evika Karamagioli

Using ICT to enhance active participation in the policy making process: The EU approach Download

e-Democracy is considered an integral part of the European e-Government policy. It is furthermore a vital tool in making governments more relevant to citizens by increasing their participation and involvement in decision-making and helping to face the large-scale disaffection with existing democratic processes. In fact, 65% of respondents to the Commission's latest public consultation on eGovernment said that eDemocracy can help reduce Europe's democratic deficit. However, excluding the research and development that is being carried out under respective EU programmes, no explicit e-Democracy policy has yet been formulated at the EU level. The proposed paper seeks to examine current and future EU plans for the formulation of such a policy, focusing on eParticipation, as one of the three key components of Europe's approach to eDemocracy (i.e. eParticipation, eLegislation and eVote).

Miroslav Karny and Tatiana V. Guy

Fully probabilistic decision making in services of e-democracy Download

E-democracy has many facets addressed by respective experts. It seems, however, that implications of probabilistic theory of decision making (DM) and especially of information theory are underestimated in this area. The paper contributes to filling this gap by: (i) providing methodology of fully probabilistic design of decision strategies that, among others, allows efficient handling of multi-criterion problems; (ii) pointing to consequences of limiting perceiving and processing capacity of DM participants.

Gregory Kersten

E-negotiations and the design of participatory processes with configurable multi-user software platforms Download

Participatory policy decision making involves people from different backgrounds, skills and cultures which makes models and tools built for one community and social setting unusable in other communities. The design and implementation of software capable of supporting public participation in decision-making, needs to address the economic, cultural, and educational characteristics of their users. If we want to facilitate and support participatory decision processes using electronic negotiation support systems, we need to provide a flexible and highly customizable software environment capable of generating software platforms which can be easily tailored to the abilities and needs of their users, the contexts, and tasks the users have to undertake. This talk gives an overview of our experiences in the design and implementation of e-negotiation systems, in particular the Invite software platform, and the impact these systems may have on solving complex multi-attribute problems.

Robert Krimmer

Electronic Voting: Review and Outlook on Transforming Elections in the Age of the Internet Download

Using technology for election processes has been an issue since the end of the 19th century. Not surprisingly the discussion of nation-wide instant electronic decision making was part of many visions of the future. Today electronic voting includes not only includes e-voting machines or remote Internet voting applications but appears in numerous forms around the world. After a lot of trials we have seen first real world legally binding uses of this new form of casting votes. This talk will give a report on the two ESF TED e-voting workshops held in 2004 and 2006 at Lake Constance in Austria and discuss the experiences collected so far as well as try to give an outlook on future developments.

Alberto Marini, Marco Padula and Amanda Reggiori

Wikipedia and wiki sites as channels for participation and collaboration

Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based free content encyclopedia project; it is written collaboratively by volunteers, allowing most articles to be changed by almost anyone with access to the website.

Wikipedia is the most successful among the web based free content projects. Since its inception in 2001, Wikipedia has steadily risen in size and popularity. Currently Wikipedia has more than 5.3 million articles in many languages, 1,415,000 in the huge English-language version. There are 229 language editions of Wikipedia, 17 of which have more than 50,000 articles. In many languages the corresponding version of Wikipedia is the larger encyclopedia. Wikipedia ranks among the top 20 most visited sites. MediaWiki, its collaborative open source software platform, is robust, efficient, flexible and effective.

Wikipedia stimulated the development of many other collaborative "wiki projects" for a large range of environments and objectives. Wikipedia and wiki sites can be considered as concrete results of cooperative work in virtual communities. In facts, wiki projects involve yet hundreds of thousands of contributors.

For many reasons wiki projects can be proposed and exploited for e-democracy objectives and in global multicultural environments..

A local wiki project it's sustainable by any community, even not skilled (it's not difficult to be supported by skilled contributors, possibly helping from a remote station).

It's easy to access wiki contents, select them and personalize them for a free "local community reuse". It's easy and therefore appealing to insert new contributions concerning specific? problems.

A local wiki project can benefit from links to a wikipedia version or to other wiki projects in the same or in a different language. A wiki project has many advantages in supporting international long distance actions, in particular for educational and solidarity aims.

Frank McGonigal

Electronic direct democracy for complex decision making Download

Direct democracy refers to a vote by the electorate (not just representatives) on a specific issue, for example on devolution. Most examples of direct democracy use a straightforward vote: for or against a proposal.

When the range of choices is much greater, such as allocation of funds between several contending projects, then the task of translating voters choices and preferences into a collective decision becomes more complex.

For a choice of ten candidates, it may be reasonable to ask voters to rank them in order of preference. However if there are hundreds of options, it would not be practical to expect voters to give every option a rank or score. Reasoning from partial information of the wishes of voters either individually or collectively may be required.

This paper seeks to explore the potential value and limitations of direct democracy using ICT, what types of decision would be more amenable to direct democracy and what algorithms would be appropriate to arrive at a decision. The use of ICT means that we can use more complex algorithms which are not subject to practical restrictions imposed by manual counting. This is particularly important where there the decision to be made is complex.

The use of techniques drawn from diverse disciplines such as Operations Research and Artificial Intelligence are explored. Such techniques may be applicable in two ways. Firstly to determine an individuals criteria or schedule of preferences from limited information and secondly to determine the collective decision which is optimal according to some criteria. In either case an iterative question-and-answer process may be appropriate.

Jose Manuel Vera and Jesus Messía

Legal support for participatory budgets and e-participatory budgets

As mentioned in the companion papers in this session, there is a growing interest about participatory budgets, all over the world and, specially, in Spain. They are viewed as opportunities to further involve citizens, reduce the democratic deficit and, even, improve public-policy decision making.

Although all grounded on similar, and relatively simple, principles, their comparison reveal many differences in various experiences, in issues like the budget percentage to be elaborated, the number of participants, the number of rounds, However, far from amorphous and disorganised, they are structured around a set of rules which described the necessary bodies, mechanisms and principles, contained in a handbooks addressed to the citizens, quite clearly formulated.

Recently, there have been several attempts to introduce ICT within participatory budget elaboration, as in other aspects of politics and public policy decision making, as most participatory budget experiences have been based on physical meetings and voting by hands, with little ICT involved.

In the paper, we shall review the legal framework that supports participatory budget experiences, as currently ran in Spain, and elaborate a framework to support e-participatory budgets, with emphasis on the Rios and Rios Insua (2006) model. Relevant data protection issues shall be discussed.

Jose Maria Moreno-Jimenez, Juan Aguaron, Maria Teresa Escobar and Alberto Turon

Philosophical, methodological and technological foundations of e-cognocracy Download

E-cognocracy (Moreno-Jiménez, 2003a; Moreno-Jiménez and Polasek, 2003) is a new representative model that, combining the two most extended democratic systems, the representative or liberal and the participative or direct, is oriented to the extraction and diffusion of knowledge derived from the scientific resolution of public decision making problems related to the governance of society. This paper summarises the philosophical, methodological and technological foundations of this democratic model and highlights its cognitive characteristics.

Jyri Mustajoki and Raimo P. Hamalainen

Web-HIPRE: Eight years of decision analysis software on the Web History, users and applications Download

Web-HIPRE is a decision analytical software available on the Web. The software was introduced in 1998 and since then it has been applied in several real life applications and decision analytical courses. In this paper, we describe the history of Web-HIRPE and analyze user statistics and the results of the recent user survey. We also describe two applications in lake regulation management as well as in nuclear emergency management. Web-HIPRE is a part of the Decisionarium Web site for global decision support.

David R. Newman

Valuing participation

By what values should we evaluate e-participation? What makes it 'better'?

In this theory-building workshop, we will explore ways of evaluating e-participation, and the values by which we judge democratic participation in policy and decision-making. How can we judge best practice, if we do not agree on what is 'better'? Can we reconcile the values and techniques of different disciplines or research approaches?

To help us explore these issues, we will be using a group support system, WebIQ (www.webiq.net). With it we can quickly brainstorm ideas, collecting dozens in five minutes, organise them and rate them: leaving us more time for deliberation on the issues identified.

Participants will be divided into two groups (Group 1 and Group 2) and each group will have access to 14 computers (maximum number of available licences) to use WebIQ in a 90 minutes session in a computer laboratory (Tuesday late morning or Wednesday early afternoon). Both groups will meet together on Thursday late morning in the conference room and use of personal laptops (up to 14) is possible.

Giovanna Parmigiani and Umberto Emiliani

An e-vote experience: the Province of Parma and the e-democracy project Pa.i.S. (discussion and demo)

Pa.ì.S. is the e-democracy project through which the Province of Parma has experimented evolutionary strategies to enhance the citizenship's active participation in the policy making process thanks to friendly, well-known and usable technology enabling a large number of people to join the discussion and participate in the final decision at any time and from any place. The project has been approved and co-financed by the Ministry of Innovation and the CNIPA (National Centre for the Innovation in the Public Administration), started in October 2005 and has come to an end on October 20th 2006 (e-vote session).

The e-vote is the final step of Action 3: LAB (e-participation Laboratories: from the web-supported discussion and collaboration between citizens and local public administration to the final deliberation). The e-vote system and application, developed by the technological partner LTT, is aimed at providing voters the opportunity to cast their ballots at any time from any place via the Internet, from a computer at any-one of county-controlled polling places in a county; the computer must not necessarily be owned and operated by election personnel; it is recognised by IP address or VPN. Authentication of the voters is guaranteed through username and password, an anti-physhing device is also provided.

Ballot integrity and secrecy are protected through the use of encryption technology (RSA): a Notary's digital certificate is used to encrypt all ballots, the Notary's Smart Card is required at the end in order to decrypt ballots and count votes.

Encrypted ballots are saved in a random order and cannot be matched to voters. They are also stored in a backup repository held by a third-party organization, in order to allow cross-match, thus ensuring that malicious data manipulation would be discovered.

The talk will include the live simulation of an eVote session.

Wolfgang Polasek and Jose Maria Moreno-Jimenez

Me&u-Integration: a tool for understanding and exchanging cultural and political values in a common European society

The new European society will be based on common economic and political principles, but the existence of such a society need to be robust from different cultural approaches and polyvalent political views. Next to language, history and religion, language (skills) is the most important obstacle to such a new European society. Next to the 4 principles of the EU, i.e. free movements of goods, services, workers and capital, we have a new tool for monitoring these basic principles, the internet. This allows the development of new tools in the process European e-government, briefly called e&u-government. The main principles of e&u-government are easy proclaimed, but difficult to be implemented: equal accession of information, political transparency for decision making and solidarity of citizens in the implementation.

Such desiderata are only achieved by a mutual cultural understanding and tolerance which needs to be constantly monitored and openly practiced over the internet.

This new concepts needs the political willingness of all the decision makers on a national, regional and local level. This was first advocated in an approach called e-cognocracy by Moreno-Jimenez and Polasek (2005). Now we extend this approach to a concept of e-citizenship which needs to be implemented in the EU and which guarantees political and cultural rights of all EU citizens, independently where they are born, work and live.

The paper develops this new perspective of me&u-Integration in the EU which is based on the new internet-society. Thus, politicians have the right and the duty to provide heir citizens at all times constant information and basic 4 European citizen rights, i.e. e-democracy, e-citizenship, e-education and e-communication at all levels in all member states.

Andreas Kuehn, Reinhard Riedl and Wolfgang Polasek

Life cycle management for boundary objects in e-government Download

E-Government in the narrow sense means internet-based interaction between citizens/companies and public administration. We consider e-government in a broader sense as the implementation of an optimal IT infrastructure for the state, which optimizes \223production\224 in the public sector.

The key three R&D challenges for this broader context are digital identity management, resource integration in legislation and in administration, and knowledge management. The development of holistic solutions for these three areas has to deal with five dimensions of complexity: contradictory stakeholder requirements, incompatible multidisciplinary requirements, system heterogeneity throughout Europe within all disciplinary views, the generic multitude of IT tasks and the hardness of IT alignment challenges, and the need to handle change through supported and enforced learning curves. There is basic research needed both with respect to solution blueprints and with respect to implementation methods, which comprise planning, design, software implementation, organizational implementation, and evaluation.

The key research question is: How can we handle the five dimensions of complexity with dedicated implementation management instruments?

Unfortunately, neither in basic research nor in R&D, an interface-based collaboration between teams with different knowledge backgrounds works unless there is a long history of collaboration among the participating teams. However, grey-zones instead of crystal-clear interfaces may lead to successful collaboration. Therefore, we need new collaboration management instruments for teams with differing knowledge backgrounds. They have to address the problem of transdisciplinary collaboration, but additionally they have to support stakeholder management, system interoperability, IT internal alignment, and fast and sustainable learning curves. Putting it differently, we have to frame the grey-zones between the disciplines in such a way that they can be monitored and managed.

Boundary provide such a framing method. In this presentation we first explain the challenges for e-government projects and their management. In particular we sketch the problems of transdisciplinary solution development for digital identity management and for resource integration. Then we discuss the requirements for boundary objects and analyze the properties of several types of classical boundary objects, such as robots in AI, real-world scenarios in applied computer science, visual prototypes in IT customer management, and several different types of IT architecture modeling concepts. This is used to motivate and draw up a life-cycle management concepts for boundary objects within projects as well as for boundary objects within project families. Both concepts explicitly address the knowledge management issues. Finally, we validate these concepts against the requirements and we derive open research questions for boundary object management in e-government.

David Rios Insua

TED mission and achievement

The talk will review the experience of TED over the past 4 years.

Jesus Rios Aliaga and David Rios Insua

Supporting e-participatory budgets Download

As mentioned in the companion papers in this session, there is a growing interest about participatory budgets all over the world and, specially, in Spain. They are viewed as opportunities to further involve citizens, reduce the democratic deficit and, even, improve public-policy decision making.

Interestingly enough, in spite of various attempts to introduce ICT within politics and public policy decision making, most participatory budget experiences have been based on physical meetings and voting by hands, with little ICT and analytical decision support involved. In the paper, we provide a framework to support participatory budget elaboration and a system architecture to implement such through the web. The framework essentially goes through the following steps:

  • Preparation (or structuring) phase.
  • Pre-negotiation phase.
  • Negotiation phase, based on a posting methodology.
  • Voting phase, if negotiations fail.
  • Post-settlement phase, if the voted solution is suboptimal, based on the balanced increment method.
  • The corresponding architecture includes e-voting and e-negotiation modules. Experiences with the architecture are described as well.

    Paulo Rosa, Goncalo Lobo and Angela Guimaraes Pereira

    e2 FocusGroup ­extending electronic public participation Download

    Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are increasingly becoming more pervasive of peoples lives, both for individual and collective usage. Hence, it becomes tempting to develop quality tools that can be used in the context of societal debates on public policies.

    The e2FocusGroup (http://alba.jrc.it/eFG/) is an Internet platform that enables a small group of people to have a focused discussion about a pre-defined issue. Each group has at least one Moderator and several Participants (ideally not more than twelve as in many social research group settings, such as focus groups, etc.). They meet in a virtual room that offers the means for an on-line debate like a Discussion Chat, a Collaborative Whiteboard and a Virtual Library.

    In this contribution we report how the e2FocusGroup platform is being successfully used in some venues, although we are looking at ways to improve its deployment, including extending its functionalities to better serve the purpose of extending public policy debates.

    Carlos Grima and Jose A. Rubio

    Role organisation and permits in a democratic virtual community

    A virtual community is a set of persons with common objectives and interests which interact exclusively through a computer network, generally Internet. This interaction is relatively continuous in time, following certain pre-established rules. The tools used for interaction include web pages, mailing lists, discussion fora, chats, news services, videoconferences,… which allow exchanges of ideas, information, opinions, files, relevant links,…

    The virtuality of these communities entail that (physical) distances between members are irrelevant. Therefore, given the presence of Internet, people that, otherwise, would not have interacted, can make it wherever they are located. Consequently, these communities are achieving a considerable political influence, from the local to the international level.

    In the end, these communities are composed of persons, with similar requirements, except those referring to the physical space management. Therefore, they need some kind of government, and, even, some kind of economy, possibly only relevant in a virtual world. Therefore, in these virtual communities the concepts of e-Government and e-Democracy achieve their full meaning and may be directly applied.

    As far as government is concerned, virtual communities are usually administered bi its founder, which tends to be the owner of the community. This administration is undertaken at his own criterion, as he will have the power to admit and excude members, and even the power to eliminate the entire community.

    However, it is possible to undertake a more democratic administration when the community gets big enough. This usually implies elaborating a constitution, elaborating laws based on the constitution, and the existence of several positions periodically elected in a democratic fashion. There is no owner, neither a founder administering at his will, but a virtual democratic community.

    In every virtual community, there are several permits that affect each action. These include: publish a message, read a message, create a subgroup, exclude a member,… Each member of the community will have his own collection of permits, defining its role in the community. For example, a standard member of the community would have the role of participant with permits such as publish a message and read a message; an administrator, on top of the role of participant, could have, as well, the role of moderator, therefore having permits such as excluding a memberand admitting a new member. Typically, the owner of the virtual community will create and manage the roles, their permits and will provide roles to persons.

    In this paper we shall adapt the system of roles to a democratic virtual community in which there is no master and, therefore, roles must be democratically managed and provided.

    The first issue is that no role has sufficient power to eliminate the rest of roles and, consequently, attain absolute power over the community. Typically, in a computer system there is a superuser or administrator which has absolute power. In a nondemocratic virtual community, the founder will typically have all the permits within a role called, say, owner. In a democratic community this is no longer admissible, and we shall discuss possible solutions to this problem. In this sense, it would be desirable that certain roles would be assigned automatically to certain person democratically elected, and according to the laws. We, therefore, need to device appropriate computer structures to support such automatic assignment. We shall discuss the entailed problems and provide the corresponding solutions.

    A second objective is to distribute role management and assignment between members. Once again, in a standard system or a nondemocratic virtual community the administrator or owner will be the only one enabled to do it. However, in a democracy as powers are separated, each one should be able to manage its own subroles and assign them according to the laws and their own criteria. We shall explore all possibilities, emerging problems and proposed solutions.

    A third objective will be to ensure that the set of roles and relations among them should be changed at any time, as we should not expect a same structure for any virtual democratic community. In fact, the role structure will depend heavily on the cosen laws. However, we shall propose a generic role structure that might be valid for most existing virtual democratic communities.

    Finally, we shall discuss the application of all these concepts on an eDemocracy belonging to a nonvirtual society. The most interesting issue, in this case, would be its applicability to create debate groups among citizens, enabling a truly open, truthful and democratic debate.

    Alexandros Xenakis, Evika Karamagioli and Vasilis Koulolias

    eRepresentative: A Web-Based Deliberation and Participation Platform for Elected Representatives Download

    The eRepresentative research project aims to investigate the potential impact of a virtual elected representatives desktop to support the work of elected representatives at national, regional and local level. Such an eRepresentative would allow personalised interaction with, and integration of, relevant information for elected representatives to support their day-to-day committee work anytime, anywhere. The eRepresentative research project explores the extent to which a novel combination of information management, mobile technologies and security systems can be designed to enable information sharing and deliberation among elected representatives through a mobile, personalised working environment which would allow them to participate in committee events from a geographically distributed environment.

    Nan Zhang, Simon French, Colum Dain, Clare Bayley and Angela Cassidy

    Mental model mapping in food chain risk management

    The handling of food safety related issues by the UK authorities has often been found wanting, particularly in relation to wider impact on rural communities and environments: e.g. BSE, E. coli, salmonella contaminations and the foot and mouth outbreak. Such issues are often unstructured where the impacts of the crises were much more diverse and far-reaching than first considered. The solving of such problems asks for an integrated approach which takes account of political, economical, social and environmental perspectives of the situation. Literature suggests that one of the difficulties to solve complex decision problems lie in the communication gaps between decision makers, stakeholders and analysts. When a group of decision makers aware that they have a decision problem to solve, they will ask an analyst, or several, to work with experts in various areas and the stakeholders in order to gather information, incorporate such information in the analysis and inform decision makers and guide them towards a decision(French and Papamichail, 2004; French et al., 2005).It is essential to incorporate all aspects of interests between different parties who contribute to the decision making process in order to reach a balanced and sustainable decision. By involving local people in local decisions may provide additional information, therefore strengthening the decision-making process and resulting in better management of the situation. Other benefits of participation might include the resolution of conflict, trust building between the stakeholder and decision-making authorities, better public awareness and understanding of risks, and more acceptable outcomes to stakeholders(French et al., 2005). Mental model theory is believed to be an effective way to analyse such difficulties on a fundamental cognitive level. A mental model is the cognitive representation of the external environment in the human mind. Due to the cognitive limitations, people make mental models that are incomplete, inaccurate, imprecisely stated and changing with time. People also differ in the way they prefer to gather, process and evaluate information due to their differences in background, personality, experience, etc(Bayley and French, 2005). Mental processes can be further understood at the group level of analysis. The construction of knowledge within different paradigm groups leads to different interpretation of the problem situation as well. Analysing mental models of different stakeholders groups can aid knowledge comparison and integration between disciplines, stimulate information transfer and communication and therefore shed light on the decision problems. Mapping techniques can be used to elicit mental models helping visualise knowledge(Norman, 1983; Senge, 1990).