Today, we’re starting a new research project, in which we will work closely with our social enterprise ‘Mapping for Change‘. The project, which is coordinated by the German company Empirica, is called ‘WeGovNow!’ and it is focused on civic participation in local government. Here is the abstract:
WeGovNow will tap into emerging technologies for effectively supporting co-production by civic society stakeholders and collective proposition development, whereby citizens are partners as opposed to customers in the delivery of public services. By integrating a set of innovative technologies within a unified citizen engagement platform, the project will overcome the current limitations of existing digital tools for citizen reporting, e-participation, and communication between the citizen and the government. In doing so, WeGovNow will enable a new type of interactivity, enhancing and expanding the viability of and capacity for citizen co-production in the public sector, not only in a traditional citizen-to-government dynamic, but also in an arrangement where the government informs, assists, and enables private actions, or where citizens assist one another, with IT replacing the dependency on administrations as a vehicle for collective action. Building on previous research and technology development, an ambitious programme of service process innovation and technology innovation will be pursued by a multi-disciplinary project consortium. Outcomes will be validated in three European cities. WeGovNow will offer solutions that are truly inclusive by addressing risks of digital exclusion from the offset and throughout the project’s life cycle. Legal, ethical and other framework conditions for implementing the WeGovNow approach and digital tools in day-to-day settings will be systematically explored and considered, with a view to optimising the democratic legitimacy of the WeGovNow approach and the exploitability of tangible project outputs. An evidence base on impacts will be generated through a dedicated evaluation programme, thereby adopting multi stakeholder perspectives. This will enable the development of evidence-based guidance on the further integrating WeGovNow solutions and provide directions for further research.
The project is funded by the European Commission, under the Horizon 2020 programme, in response to the call for projects that address ‘Meeting new societal needs by using emerging technologies in the public sector‘. The project will run for three years, and will include case studies in Southwark, Turin, and San Dona di Piave.
The project will develop and test a digital platform for effectively engaging local civil society in the co-production of citizen-centred services, and will use OpenStreetMap (OSM) based map interface in ways which boost awareness to community interest issues; Enable the integration and presentation of any relevant open public sector information (PSI) in ways which help raise awareness and trigger discussion about how to address issues of community interest; Provide quality assurance for data; Effectively support collective formation of opinions; and much more…
Central to the project is the philosophy of User-Centred Design (UCD) which is pivotal to the ethos and practices of ExCiteS. This will enable us to implement and extend our expertise in this area and actively integrate UCD methods and principles, focusing on accessibility and user trust, in the design and development of the WeGovNow digital tools for citizen engagement. We will soon advertise a PhD position for this project – so please get in touch if this is of interest.