Periodic Reporting for period 2 - WeGovNow (Towards We-Government: Collective and participative approaches for addressing local policy challenges)
Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2019-01-31
During the final project year, the pilot platform was operated under day-to-day conditions in the London Borough of Southwark, the City of Turin and the rural municipality of San Donà dí Piave, in Italy. All in all, 9.976 pilot user accounts were registered to platform across the three pilot municipalities. In terms of age the pilot users spread quite evenly across different age bands. The majority (80%) was aged between 20 and 59 years. Roughly one in ten pilot users was aged between 60 and 69 years. The youngest (16-19 years) and the oldest (70+ years) age bands were represented with 4% and 5% respectively. Slightly more than one half (56%) of the pilot users were female users. All together, 22.324 single usage activities were observed across the different functional components integrated within the overall platform. Of these, 26% concerned the posting of original contributions by registered pilot users and 16% concerned the subsequent updating or deletion of own posts. The remaining share (58%) concerned responses to contributions made by others.
The architectural approach adopted for the purposes of WeGovNow and its operational implementation in terms of an integrated web service proved scalable to larger numbers of users. With almost 10.000 users having registered to WeGovNow across the three pilot municipalities, no major malfunctions or breakdowns occurred. Despite extensive usage of the individual platform components throughout the pilot duration, user feedback points into the direction that there is room for better guiding the user through the diverse functionalities available from the overall platform, e.g. by means of short video tutorials.
Various benefits were perceived to flow from the platform’s functional utility to the different stakeholder groups involved in the local pilots. They concern, on the one hand, commonly accepted democratic values such as enhanced democratic legitimacy of administrative decision making. On the other hand, utilitarian aspects such as better informed decision making came to the fore as well.
All software components developed / extended within the project are available as open source solutions for downloading. Further to this, augmenting information is provided to support those interested in implementing and / or further developing WeGovNow open source software components. A number of publications have become available throughout the project duration.
When adopting the perspective of the public administration, a number of aspects deserve attention as well if sustainable platform operation is to be achieved. For instance, WeGovNow requires embedding the technical infrastructure into a comprehensive “political” strategy towards civic participation, be it with a focus on case-by-case decision making or social capital building or both. Also, WeGovNow offers a number of short term benefits over its “off-line” variants when it comes to fostering collective action, including the fact that it is easier to exchange information and make group decisions at a larger scale. However, the local pilots suggest that WeGovNow is likely to enfold its full transformational impacts only in the longer run, by acting as a catalyst of change towards transforming public administration processes. We-Government should therefore be considered as a long-term investment rather than a means to achieve short-term rationalisation effects in public administrations.