What is open government?• Freedom of information. Transparency of government activities and operations. (“No red tape”)• A government that listens to its citizens and encourages collaboration and democratic participation. (“Open door”)
High-level interest• In December 2010, the Belgium presidency of EU held a high level conference:• Lift-off Towards Open Government• The web site shows that open government is much more than the traditional understanding of the expressionhttp://www.opengov2010.be/
Transparency• THE USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY TO INCREASE GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY• The following material is based on a paper I presented at the EGOV 2006 in Krakow, Poland, and supplementary work done as part of the eGovMon project from 2008- 2012.
A legislative instrument• In 2005 England and Germany passed ”Freedom of Information” Acts.• In 2004, Norway included the issue of transparency into its constitution, and is currently on its way to pass an updated “Freedom of Information Act”• The Norwegian “Freedom of Information Act” was revised in 2006 (implemented from 2009). The act instructs government to increase transparency even when not required by legislation.• These are only some current examples of the increasing focus on transparency as an important pillar of modern democracies.
Objections!• Unobtainable, since only parts of the political decision making process will be transparent, and that most decisions are made on beforehand through informal negotiations between members of the political bodies.• It may also be argued that transparency reduces government efficiency, since transparency potentially generates more administrative work.
But!• In spite of such objections, lawmakers have embraced the idea of transparency. – First of all, “Freedom of Information Acts” send strong signals to all stakeholders that decision making should be transparent. – Second, it provides a legal instrument for citizens to dig into the decision making process when they find it necessary. – Third, transparency may be an instrument to promote political participation.
Transparency of Political decision making• Complex processes, may be difficult to understand for those affected by the decisions• I regard transparency as a positive measure to increase the awareness of issues, stakeholders and the decision making process itself.• It is almost impossible to cover every angle of political decision making by lawmaking, but it is possible to rule that all background information, and access to the decision making process itself, should be open and accessible to the public.
Definition!• My definition: The legal mechanisms established to give stakeholders and the general public insight and understanding of an issue, including the actual decision making being done.• Therefore, transparency includes access to background documents, statistical resources, meeting agendas, as well as access to the meetings where decisions are being made.
e-Transparency Framework• Litterature review found that transparency is often mentioned as a goal, or an effect of e-government or e- democracy applications.• Transparency has also been included in frameworks and evaluation methods• Always on a (very) general level
How to construct a e-transparency framework?• The framework was constructed by reviewing relevant Norwegian legislation dealing with aspects of transparency.• After completing this review, a broad search of legislative practices of other countries was performed, and this gave some additional input.
Transparancy and legislation• "Freedom of Information Act" 1970• "Local Government Act" 1992 – Meetings open to the public contribute to create better insight, and better understanding of what happens within local and regional government• Amendment to constitution 2004• New "Freedom of Information Act" 2006
Good or bad?• I am not discussing if the different types of transparency found is good or bad!• I am just reporting my findings of transparecy as introduced by lawmakers• My intention is to show how ICT can support these different types of transparency
TransparencyDocument Based on the Freedom of Information Act document transparency is defined astransparency the right to examine documents relevant to the political decision making process, including documents received, documents produced, and the decisions made by the political body.Benchmarking Based on the Statistics Act, benchmarking transparency is defined as the right totransparency access statistical information collected by government and government agencies. Such information can be used for benchmarking.Meeting Based on the Local Government Act, meeting transparency is defined as the righttransparency to be present at meetings of political bodies.Disclosure Based on the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Act,transparency disclosure transparency is defined as the right to ask questions to find out what is not in documents and meeting agendas.Decision maker Based on U.S. Sunshine Acts, decision maker transparency is defined as thetransparency right to know where and what elected and administrative leaders are up to.
Document e-Transparency• Online records of incoming and outgoing mail• Online case documents• Online records of decisions/minutes
Benchmarking e-transparency• Online planning documents• Online annual reports• Links to relevant statistics collected by Statistics Norway and other government agencies responsible for collecting and publishing statistical information (Statistics Norway has a special database, KOSTRA, containing benchmarking information on municipalities)• Online results of user surveys
Meeting transparency• Time and place of meetings• Online agendas• Online proceedings (webcasts)
Disclosure transparency• Questions by email• On-line (real-time) questions (net-meetings or chat)• Discussion forums/blogs where citizens can ask questions
Decision maker transparency• Online list of local council members• Online voting records• Online calendar of mayor• Online calendar of chief executive
Case studies• Since 2006 the developments in Norway have been very good.• Almost all municipalities put their case documents online.• Aventia, the leading provider webcasting services, has around 80 municipalities as customers, including the capital Oslo. (www.aventia.no)• The ministries have online mail records.• The parliament has their own web site giving access to documents and webcasts.
Discussion• The paper may be used as a basis forfurther discussion on what transparency ofpolitical decision making really is.• At the same time, the framework may beused as a practical tool for comparing howgovernments at all levels utilize informationtechnology to increase transparency.
Open Data• Open data• Data can be reused for new purposes• Standards• Mash-ups• Example: Norwegian Parliament
What are the reasons?• Enable business. Open data can contribute to new business activities, which may generate value for the business and the society.• Save money. Open data will reduce requests for data, since potential users may service themselves.
Open source• From software community: The source code is open for anyone to study, change, extend, share and distribute.• Two directions – Free Software Foundation – Open Source Manifesto (Bruce Perens)
Open Source Ideas• Why not use the same thinking for politics?• Disclose everything, invite to collaborate on policy development, share and distribute the intermediate results and the final outcome.• Tools: Consultations
Citizens as partners• The following is based on a paper delivered at the international conference on the digital society (ICDS) in 2007• The title of the paper was: Enhanced e-Services through Partnerships - Increasing the value of public infrastructure investments
e-Government• e-Government objectives: – To deliver better services through use of information technology – To improve availability
e-Participation• Common research focus: – How can citizens influence policy making through use of information technology• This presentation looks at participation as something more than empowerment: The mutual collaboration between government and active citizens to improve society.
Purpose• The purpose of this presentation is to show that citizens should not only be regarded as consumers of government services or political actors, but also as valuable resources capable of creating additional value based on existing government infrastructure.
Model Information Information Information Information consumer consumer consumer consumer ID o ID+I Info nf ID+ +I nfo +I nf ID o Infrastructure supplied by government (servers, DBMS’s, network capacity) fo ID fo +In ID+In ID+In +In fo fo IDInformation Information Information Information provider provider provider provider
Case #1: The Digital Inn• Established by the Norwegian National Archive Services as an extension of a information retrieval service called the ”Digital Archive". The “Digital Archive” stores archive material as images, transcribed texts and databases, and makes such material available through the Internet.
”The Digital Archive”• Content is of particular interest to historians and genealogists, and include: – Censuses – Parish records – Military service records – List of emigrants
”The Digital Archive”• Some material is transcribed, but today even more material is stored as images.• Transcribed material may be searched, but not images• Transcription is a very time-consuming process
”The Digital Archive”• The Digital Archive made a strategic decision to open their infrastructure to individuals and voluntary organizations registering parish records and other historical content as digital information.• This is what is called ”The Digital Inn”.• You get a room and fill it with your own belongings..
”The Digital Archive”• This is one good example on how to consider citizens as a resource.• The individual contributions are shared with others through a public infrastructure.
Case #2: The Map Hostel• Based on the same ideas.• Let government provide infrastructure, and invite citizens and organizations to provide map data.
The rationale• Map services on Internet is flourshing – Google maps – Microsoft• But applications are limited, since – Maps provided lack details – There are limitations on what data can be stored – ”Street maps”
Governmental GIS• Governmental and municipal geographic systems contain more details, including topological information• Government and municipalities have already invested heavily in such systems.• It would be appropriate to find ways to utilize this infrastructure better
First phase (2005)• 2005: Built web interface to register coordinates and information in a format that could be imported into municipal GIS. – Problems with scalability, decided to separate map data from map generator
Second phase Geographic InformationDatabase System Presentation Server Database Map Hostel Data entry
Second phase• 2006: Experimented with different types of GPS- equipment to demonstrate automatic data collection in the field.• Municipal GIS could generate maps, but due to lack of API doumentation, and use of proprietary formats, we decided to use MapPoint as a temporary data source – Easy to program – Well documented• Municipal GIS supplier has now released API etc.
Use of mobile units• New mobile phones with built-in GPS facilitates in-the-field data collection.• Have developed application to send GPS-data and message to web server through a web service.• Have developed application to import from TrackStick.• Are now implementing on other devices using external (Bluetooth) GPS (better solution).
Third phase• In 2007 students made a version based on Google maps. The reason was rather cumbersome procedures to import data into the municipal GIS.• The municipal GIS still have the same problems – Technical: API is complex – Administrative: Data put into production system needs validation• Outcome: Municipality now has implemented more thematic maps.
Hierarchy• First level: MyMap Public catalog of maps (personal data or data being collected) EveryonesMap• Second level: OurMap (data shared by closed group or members of an OurMap organization)• Third level: EveryonesMap (data accessed through a MyMap public catalog)
Applications• Sports clubs• Registration of places of historical interest• Orienteering• Geology• Schools• Applications are endless
Discussion• Have shown two case examples on how government can provide infrastructure, and use citizens as a valuable resource for providing information• Mission: To change the government perception of citizens.
User Centric eGovernment• The following is based on a presentation made to the European Commission in December 2011 (ePractice event).
Main argument User-centric eGovernment focuses on the needs, wants and limitations of the users. Two perspectives of eGovernment: Administration perspective: Improve internal efficiency and/or quality of the work performed by the government organization Citizen perspective: Making life easier for the user/citizen It is not necessarily a conflict between the two perspectives But experience shows that solutions often are not optimal from the user point of view
User-centered design• User-centered design is a methodology/philosophy that involves users at all stages of the design process.• Not only based on assumptions of designers/developers, but validated by real users in real situations.• The goal is to make solutions better – for the users.• User centered design takes into account: – Audience (who, demographics of users) – Purpose (what) – Context (under what circumstances)
NET-EUCEN• The NET-EUCEN thematic network is developing a framework to define and measure user-centric eGovernment services.• Definition of user-centric: Fulfillment of three stages of user involvement:• (1) User Involvement in Co-design stage: Involving users in development of ideas and concepts. Starting from users´ needs and requirements without technological constraints.
NET-EUCEN• (2) User involvement in development and implementation stages: Sample/group of users engaged in first implementation of the service in order to evaluate its features and continuously discuss with developers to optimize the outcomes and suggest improvements and/or changes.• (3) User involvement in deployment and running stages: Users validate service through user testing of flexibility and interoperability. Test results are used to customize service according to changes in political, economic or social environment.
NET-EUCEN• A preliminary study on the ePractice portal and other international relevant cases has been carried out revealing that very few cases are fully aligned with this definition, but a deeper analysis is mandatory to actually define the “level” of user centricity adopted by a service.
Some general principles• The users should not be expected to know the organizational structure (one-stop-shop)• The user should be able to drill down to the appropriate level of detail to fit his/her needs – Example: Government regulations are often complex, and not easy to understand for all citizens. An easy-to-rad introduction highlighting common questions should be provided• Accessibilty should be in place – Many users have different kinds of impairments – Logical structure of the web site• The user should be able to customize his/her user interface according to own needs.• The user should be able to choose an appropriate channel of communication
Practical example Electronic forms Electronic service provision is typically done through electronic forms. The forms may be effective for the administration, but not necessarily for the user. Example: Application form for grants to voluntary groups and organizations. Old: Paper based form, fill it out, enclose copy of budget and report on use of pervious grants, put the sheets in an envelope, send it. New: Electronic form. User needs to type the information from the budget and the report into the electronic form. ..and problems with timeout, user needs to start from the beginning
Practical example Electronic forms• Best practice for user-centric form-based solutions – Interactive submission – Accessibility – Prefilled content – Validation of fields where appropriate – Help information available – Meaningful error messages (in user’s own language) – For multi-page forms – possibility to move back and forth – Possibility to provide user feedback (feedback button) – The possibility to complete form after a break
Conclusion• User-centricity is about a mindset.• The needs, wants and limitations of users must be recognized• NET-EUCEN – A network for User-Centric eGovernment http://www.net-eucen.org• Join us today!