Municipal Ear: A Web Service for Involving Citizens in Political Program Work


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A Case study about Finnish National Coalition Party's ’Municipal Ear’ - A Web Service for Involving 34 000 Citizens in Political Program Work

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  • The goals of the project were to participate the crowds to the planning of the political program and to raise general interest for municipal politics and for today’s elections.
  • The idea about the Municipal Ear was born at the summer camp of Kokoomus in 2007. The party was looking for a way to take the successful Ear campaign to the internet, and I was looking for a case study for research project of Fountain Park and universities Oulu and Stanford.
  • This is the front page of the Municipality Ear. It’s located in domain It tells why we want you to participate in this, how we will use the data, and that by participating, you can win some movie tickets. We posted link to this for every member of the party whose email address we had. We also placed a Municipal Ear banner for party’s and its local associations’ web sites.
  • We asked municipal, profession, gender and age to be able to compare the opinions of different groups and to make reports for local associations.
  • First we will ask you to write your own themes for the political program. Then we will give you a change to evaluate the importance of the themes other participants have written.
  • This is the page where you can write your own themes. We ask you to write every theme separately, To give a short title for each theme, Describe it a little bit longer, and then click save. When you don’t to write anymore themes, you can move on by clicking the proceed button.
  • This is basically the same page, but now we ask you to think about someone else’s point of view. For example this time you are asked to write a theme from the unemployed’s point of view. We had about 20 different point of views on this page. Every time you write a new theme, you will get a new randomly chosen point of view.
  • This is the page where you can evaluate the importance of other peoples themes. Every red box you’ll see on the dartboard is a theme written by someone else. By moving a mouse over the theme, you will see the longer description of it. You drag the theme the closer to the centre, the more important you consider the theme is. And as you can see from the upper right corner, there is more than 200 dartboards of themes to evaluate.
  • After reading and evaluating other peoples answer, you may have some new thoughts, so we will give you here one more change to write your own themes.
  • This is the last page of the Municipal Ear. Here you can challenge your friends to participate by entering their email addresses. You friends will then receive and email including a link to the Municipal Ear.
  • I believe these numbers are higher than anyone anticipated when were planning the project. And the most exciting thing is that we have learned so much about social networks now, that I believe we could double or triple the number of participants in the next project like this.
  • We classified all the 16000 answers to 17 main themes using software based on theory of SOM. Each one of the cells in this map include many answers which have very similar text content. The cells are the closer to each other, the more they have depended content. For example in the upper left corner there’s many security related cells.
  • These are the 17 main themes. The blue bars tells how many answers we got related to each theme. The red bar tells the average of the dartboard evaluations of the answers related to each theme. We were especially interested about themes that weren’t talked a lot, but which were considered very important. That is themes with big gaps between the blue and red bars like communality. We believed that those themes have unused potential and novelty value.
  • Here are few sub themes of the communality. The size of the ball tells how many answers related to theme there is. The vertical axis tells the importance of the theme. The horizontal axis tells the disagreement of the importance of the theme. So you can see from this picture that most people agree that it’s important to try to prevent social exclusion, but not as many consider it important to integrate the immigrants to the society.
  • There was a lot of regional variation in the results. For example here’s the comparison between Helsinki and the whole country.
  • And here’s a comparison between the genders.
  • We also got some visibility in the media. Here’s an article written by the biggest news magazine in Finland. And below the article is a screenshot from the Google showing that more than 400 web pages have mentioned or linked to the Municipal Ear.
  • By designing a quantitative questions to ask about complex phenomenon (like political opinions), you will only get information you are able to ask, and information which is very hard to use in future oriented planning work. By asking open-ended, non-directive questions, you’ll get information expressing the real thoughts of the respondents, but you are in a trouble, if you’ll get 16000 answers like we did. That is almost 4000 pages of paper if we would print it.
  • The father of strategic planning Igor Ansoff has defined some filters preventing us from observing new thing from our operating environment. We passed the first filter by participating large amount of people to the planning. We were trying to open the second filter by asking you to think also from other peoples point of view and by allowing you to read other peoples thoughts. And finally we are trying to minimize the effect of the power filter by acting anonymously.
  • A weak signal is a phenomenon that is typically hard to detect and describe in its early phase. But it may get a clearer structure and develop to a strong trend in the future. We saw communality as a typical example of weak signal in its late phase that is passing or passed already the threshold of mainstream awareness. A few people were able to describe thoughts related to it, but there was already many people who saw those thoughts very important. That’s why we wanted to understand more about communality and decided to analyze it more closely.
  • Projects like this are not only about research. By participating people to the planning, you will get them interested, help them understand and accept new things and maybe even increase their commitment level or motivate them to act for you.
  • Municipal Ear: A Web Service for Involving Citizens in Political Program Work

    1. 1. ’ Municipal Ear’ A Web Service for Involving Citizens in Political Program Work Ville Tapio Fountain Park Ltd 15.12.2008 Contents: Presentation of the service (1-10) Presentation of the results (11-17) Theory base (18-22) Company presentation (23-28)
    2. 2. Project Background <ul><li>The National Coalition Party carried out a successful campaign with the “Party with Ears” theme in 2007 Finnish parliamentary elections - t he challenge was how to transfer this into the Internet </li></ul><ul><li>Fountain Park Ltd has been developing web services for proactive and participative leadership since 2001 (mainly for the sector of big enterprises) </li></ul><ul><li>Rich User Experience and Social Networking in Web 2.0 research project of Fountain Park, University of Oulu and Stanford’s H*/Media-X Research Institute </li></ul><ul><li>” Many scientifcally well-argued concepts from social network analysis (SNA), which have not been much utilized yet, may be applied in developing Web applications. These incluce e.g. the concepts of weak ties, bridge, cohesion and homophily. These are well documented sociological concepts that influence buying patterns, political choices, self-concept, innovation, productivity, quality and more that have been hard to observe in the off-line world.” </li></ul>
    3. 3. Welcome page -
    4. 4. Background variables
    5. 5. Instructions
    6. 6. Proposing themes
    7. 7. Proposing themes from other peoples’ point of view
    8. 8. Evaluating themes proposed by others
    9. 9. One more chance to propose themes
    10. 10. Challenge your network
    11. 11. Statistics <ul><li>34 130 participants </li></ul><ul><li>16 031 proposed themes </li></ul><ul><li>82 139 theme evaluations </li></ul><ul><li>368 440 themes read </li></ul><ul><li>Males 56.6 %, females 43.4 % </li></ul><ul><li>Under 30 years 16.9 %, 30-55 years 48.9 %, over 55 years 34.2 % </li></ul><ul><li>Students 10.5 %, employees 49.7 %, entrepreneurs 17.2 %, retired 16.6 %, others 5.9 % </li></ul>
    12. 12. Classification of data using SOM “ A self-organizing map (SOM) is a type of artificial neural network that is trained using unsupervised learning to produce a low-dimensional (typically two dimensional), discretized representation of the input space of the training samples, called a map. The map seeks to preserve the topological properties of the input space. This makes SOM useful for visualizing low-dimensional views of high-dimensional data, akin to multidimensional scaling. The model was first described as an artificial neural network by the Finnish professor Teuvo Kohonen.”
    13. 13. Main themes People talked most about Work and Education while Social and health services were evaluated as the most important theme. It’s especially important to notice that themes that weren’t much talked about such as Communality, were still evaluated to be very important by all different respondent groups. Importance (avg) Amount (%) Work Education Health services Municipal economy Housing and construction Entrepreneurship Family Administration and policies Services for senior citizens Traffic and transportation Comfort and safety Sports and hobbies Environment Day care Culture Immigrants Communality
    14. 14. Subthemes of the communality Immigrants’ intregration to the society Prevention of social exclusion Senior citizens Association activity Family and raising childrens Support networks Schools and youth work
    15. 15. Regional variation Immigrants, Traffic and transportation and Environment are evaluated more important in Helsinki than in the rest of the country. Issues related to Entrepreneurship, Services for aging people and Education are considered less important in Helsinki. Work Education Health services Municipal economy Entrepreneurship Family Services for senior citizens Comfort and safety Housing and construction Administration and policies Traffic and transportation Environment Sports and hobbies Day care Culture Immigrants Communality Whole country Helsinki
    16. 16. Comparison of respondent groups (for example Males vs. Females) Work Education Health services Municipal economy Entrepreneurship Family Services for senior citizens Coziness and safety Housing and construction Administration and policies Traffic and transportation Environment Sports and hobbies Day care Culture Immigrants Communality Males Females
    17. 17. Media Visibility
    18. 18. Quantitative research <ul><li>Good for measuring well known, easy to structure phenomenons that have happened in the past </li></ul><ul><li>The challenge is to design valid question patterns, get really new information and take advantage of the results. </li></ul><ul><li>Good for structuring complex phenomenons, searching new information, forecasting changes and planning future actions </li></ul><ul><li>The challenge is the scalability and the statistical analysis of the results </li></ul>Qualitative research
    19. 19. Wisdom of Crowds <ul><li>Large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant—better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future. </li></ul><ul><li>Four elements required to form a wise crowd: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversity of opinion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Independence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decentralization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aggregation </li></ul></ul>Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations James Surowiecki, 2004
    20. 20. Observation Filters &quot;Implanting Strategic Management” by Igor Ansoff. Prentice Hall 1984 ISBN 0-134-51808-X <ul><li>Surveillance filter defines the area that we observe, e.g. our current market and industry. The challenge is that discontinuities usually come from outside of our current industry. </li></ul><ul><li>Mentality filter is formed of previous (success) experiences and we have a tendency to filter novel issues off, because they have not been important to us before. </li></ul><ul><li>Power filter prohibits people to express their ideas to those who possess more organizational power or power based on expertise. </li></ul>
    21. 21. Weak Signals “ A weak signal is a factor for change hardly perceptible at present, but which will constitute a strong trend in the future.” Michelle Codet 1994 “ A weak signal is a sign which is slight in present dimensions but huge in terms of its virtual consequences.” Pierre Masse 1965 Trends Weak signals
    22. 22. &quot;Committing to change&quot; (146-160) in Conner Daryl R., Managing at the Speed of Change; How resilient managers succeed and prosper where others fail. John Wiley & Sons 1992, 1998 ISBN 0-471-97494-3 Conner, Darryl R. & Patterson, Robert W. “Building Commitment to Organizational Change.” (18-30) Training and Development Journal 36, 4 (April 1982). Awareness Interest Understanding Acceptance Commitment Internalization Action Requires personal reflection and sharing with others. Result Building Commitment to Change
    23. 23. Fountain Park Ltd <ul><li>Fountain Park offers web services for: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Helping new leaders to understand and get acceptance of their new organization </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Participation of crowds to the planning of strategies and programs to increase the level of interest and commitment </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Analyzing customer and other stakeholder insights to increase organizations’ competitiveness </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Established in 2000, owned by the staff, office in Helsinki, 20 employees, growing rapidly (52 % in H1/2008 compared to H1/2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Creating a new market between the established software, training, consulting and research markets: </li></ul>Software companies Consulting companies Research companies Training companies Fountain Park ”Web services for proactive leadership”
    24. 24. UK’s public sector customers <ul><li>Department of Innovations, Universities and Skills, Alex King </li></ul><ul><li>Online brainstorming for DIUS scenario process </li></ul><ul><li>The National Trust, Alex Hunt </li></ul><ul><li>Online brainstorming for internal and outernal stakeholders </li></ul><ul><li>Department of Trade and Industry, Alister Wilson </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Two online brainstromings: CBI Horizon Scan & FAN Club Meeting Scan </li></ul></ul><ul><li>NIACE National Institute for Continuing Adult Education, Simon Mauger </li></ul><ul><li>Online brainstorming for NIACE scenario process </li></ul><ul><li>REGENworks, Marion Cooper </li></ul><ul><li>Online brainstorming for regional development strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Foresight’s Horizon Scanning Centre Three year framework contract for Futures projects ( </li></ul>
    25. 25. Other international customers <ul><li>Deloitte (USA) </li></ul><ul><li>Strategic agility online dialogues </li></ul><ul><li>Technology Forecasters Inc (USA), Pamela Gordon Scanning change signals from global operating environments </li></ul><ul><li>Singapore Goverment </li></ul><ul><li>Several online operating environment scannings to support goverment’s foresight work </li></ul><ul><li>CERN (Switzerland), Markus Nordberg </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Online human risks analysis for commissioning of the new particle accelarator </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Prometeus Association (France), Kari Mikkelä </li></ul><ul><li>Online evaluation of future challenges of e-learning </li></ul><ul><li>City of Tartu (Estonia) </li></ul><ul><li>Youth health survey </li></ul>
    26. 26. Case British Telecom <ul><li>Efficiency improvements by listening to the employees </li></ul><ul><li>The challenge 2007 was to collect and evaluate the most pressing ”hygiene issues” inside BT Retail. This means the systems, processes and behaviors that cause the most internal friction in people's everyday work and have the biggest impact on corporate performance. Hundreds of employees participated, and over 500 answers were given to the question &quot;Things I'd like to see changed&quot;. The participants also evaluated issues submitted by other respondents. The results identified clearly the action priorities, and allowed new and existing actions to focus on issues with the biggest business impact. The Fountain Park tools and expertise were an invaluable part of an ongoing process, through which management is committed to delivering accountable and measurable results that make BT Retail function better. </li></ul>
    27. 27. Case Finnish Innovation Fund <ul><li>Creating the national natural resources strategy </li></ul><ul><li>The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra invited participants from industry, government, universities and media to brainstorm ideas on what needs to be taken into consideration when preparing the national natural resources strategy. The work is coordinated by Sitra. The results will be presented to Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen in the spring 2009. When the strategy is finished, the crowds will be invited again to propose projects which should be initiated to implement the strategy. </li></ul><ul><li>Brainstorming new programme ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Sitra wanted to increase transparency of its programme preparation phase by inviting its stakeholders to take part in the preparation. Fountain Park's online brainstorming was the method chosen. The closest stakeholders were first invited to give ideas on the themes that could be important for the future of Finland, to evaluate the significance of others' ideas and to invite members of their own networks of visionaries to participate.The invitation reached 2 150 people in a few weeks, making 2 474 suggestions and evaluating others' suggestions 13 636 times. On the basis of the results, the board of Sitra selected five topic areas for further development. </li></ul>
    28. 28. Do you need an Ear? <ul><li>Call or email to me: </li></ul><ul><li>Ville Tapio +358 40 590 9385 </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Fountain Park has carried out more than 200 research and communications projects like ‘Municipal Ear’ </li></ul><ul><li>Our software has been used to do more than 15 000 research projects and to involve almost 2 000 000 people in decision making processes </li></ul><ul><li>Our biggest projects have had up to 19 language versions and tens of thousands of participants from all over the world </li></ul><ul><li>A project such as Municipal Ear costs 20 000 euros </li></ul><ul><li>Euro elections are coming. How will you find out the real thoughts of potential voters and get them interested about the Euro politics? </li></ul>