A briefing paper for research at EU level on eGovernance and eParticipation – in support of an eSociety

This paper aims to highlight a number of important public sector challenges that will be faced in the coming decade. Conventional wisdoms and familiar governance models will be challenged as ICT based disruptions impinge on democratic, consultative and policy making processes. Evidence already gathered can anticipate that the scope and scale of transformation will have a major impact on society. The paper concludes by indicating a number of research activities that could pave the way to solutions.

Analysis and Challenges
Since 2005 there has been a phenomenal growth in mass, on-line collaborative applications, moreover the collaborations have a number of different formats (e.g. Wikipedia, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, amongst others). Cyber-collaboration has captured the imagination and creative potential of millions of participants - particularly the young. In addition to new forms of leisure pursuits, communitybuilding activities have also entered the political arena as witnessed in a number of recent national elections. On-line communities can leverage considerable human knowledge and expertise and rapidly build their capacity. At the same time it is now recognised that on-line collaborations have the potential to trigger and shape significant changes in the way future (e)societies will function. Extrapolation of the present exponential growth leads to scenarios where very large percentages of populations could, if equipped with right tools, simultaneously voice opinions and views on major and minor societal challenges, and thereby herald the transition to a different form of dynamically participative "eSociety". While such scenarios are readily imaginable, we also recognise that we currently do not have appropriate governance models, process flows, or analytical tools with which to properly understand, interpret, visualise and harness the forces that could be unleashed. Present government processes (local, regional, national and EU level) provision laws and regulations, interpret and define societal norms and deliver societal support services. Their legitimacy is derived through democratic processes combined with a requirement of transparency and accountability. In a world that is increasingly using non-physical communication and borderless interaction, traditional roles and responsibilities of public administrations will be subject to considerable change and classical boundaries between citizens and their governments are blurring. The balance of power between governments, societal actors and the population will have to adapt to these challenging new possibilities. A key issue will be to develop and apply advanced ICT's to provide robust support the change process and herald the transition to a new, digitally derived, legitimacy. Inherent in this process is the definition and realisation of new, carefully crafted governance models. By 2020 there will be no barriers any more for citizens and businesses to participate in decision making at all levels, hence overcoming the present democratic deficit. Advanced tools – possibly building on gaming and virtual reality technologies will enable citizens to track the totality of decision making processes and see how their contributions have been (or are being) taken into account. Current linguistic and cultural barriers will have been largely overcome through use of semantic-based cooperation platforms. Opinion mining, visualisation and modelling into virtual reality based outcomes and scenarios will help to both shape, guide and form public opinion. The processes and tools will have to demonstrate transparency and trust and be devoid of manipulation. The outcomes of such consultative processes should be faster, more efficient in terms of revising policy and making decisions. Also by 2020, transparency and trust in the context of an eSociety will characterise a changed relationship between governments, businesses and citizens. Governments traditionally collect, process and store significant quantities of data. By 2020, the relationships will have changed and businesses and citizens will "authorise" access by governments to "data spaces" of their own data which they control and update. Such a scenario would result in a "private shared space" jointly accessed by data users and data providers. Equivalent data spaces will be adopted by businesses. These shared spaces will require maximally robust access rules and procedures and hence new technologies and tools that ensure privacy and data protection. Trust in such technologies will need to be earned.
FP7 ICT Research Workprogramme 2009-10 Consideration David Broster, European Commission, December 2007

Research Orientations
• Intelligent Mass Cooperation Platforms: Tools and technologies that build on and extrapolate from Web 2.0 and future Web 3.0 tools, for bottom-up, user-controlled, massive social collaboration and networking applications. Incorporating mixed reality applications based on semantic cooperation platforms that traverse language and cultural interpretation thereby enabling multi-national groups to create, learn and share information and knowledge. Governance Toolbox: Technologies and tools to embody structural, organisational and new governance models plus associated procedures, that enable groups to form, engage, create, learn and share and track group knowledge. The toolbox must include identity and access controls to ensure delineation of constituency domains where appropriate. Real-time Opinion Visualisation: Tools and technologies to support virtual community opinion forming, incorporating: simulation, visualisation and mixed reality technologies, data and opinion mining, filtering and consolidation. Citizen participation implies the ability to track the whole public sector decision making process and see whether and how contributions have been considered. Policy Modelling, Tracking and Visualisation: to manipulate and exploit the vast reserves of Europe's public sector collective data and knowledge resources. Semantic web applications to access and visualise background knowledge repositories to the public. Tools include; translation, process modelling, data mining, pattern recognition and visualisation and other gaming-based simulation, forecasting and back-casting, and goal-based optimisation techniques. Policy Simulations: Tools and technologies to animate large-scale societal simulations that forecast potential outcomes and impacts of proposed policy measures. Parameters include impacts on movements of people, commuters, goods and services, jobs, costs, benefits, social impact and resulting social burdens. The public sector will use these tools to examine options based on the simulated behaviour and wishes of individuals, groups or society as a whole to understand the possible outcomes of government proposals, decisions, legislation, etc. Personal Shared, Secure Data Spaces and Agent Support Tools: The scale and complexity of the public sector, and its technical intertwining with other actors in society, set quite unique requirements for trust and liability, prevention of unauthorised access, misuse and fraud. The tools must be able to encompass multiple identities, pseudonymity, authentication, secure data disposal, etc. Authorised proxy controls will also be required with appropriate security to administer within a family (parents acting on behalf of children or the elderly), or for trusted third parties, or in bone-fide business associations. Citizens and businesses will also become reliant on customisable Personal Governance models that support multiple roles and identities. User's support would be managed and animated through intelligent agents or avatars which learn from the user’s past behaviour, expressed wishes, or legal decisions and respond according to within the bounds of established governance rules. Given the complexity of these scenarios, intelligent agent technologies should also be developed to assist in the control and maintenance of information tagging access, access audits, data durability (lifetime) and validity / obsolescence and deletion.

The budget envelope for the work described above has yet to be determined. It is proposed to define the objectives in WP2009-2010 initiating the research work in a call in 2009. Instruments suitable for this work include "Integrated Projects (IP)", "Specific Targeted Research Projects (STREPs)" accompanied by Specific Coordination and Support Actions.

FP7 ICT Research Workprogramme 2009-10 Consideration

David Broster, European Commission, December 2007

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