Public i- Petitions by Law


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Public i- Petitions by Law

  1. 1. ePetitions by Law! Why buying software is not enough <ul><li>Technologies for Participation May 2009 </li></ul>
  2. 2. What to expect: <ul><li>Agree a common understanding of what we mean by petitions </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the bill (a bit) </li></ul><ul><li>Start a discussion about petition moderation </li></ul><ul><li>Think about the opportunity that the need to support petitions brings </li></ul><ul><li>Get a view of the technology </li></ul><ul><li>Stop for questions should you feel so inclined </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Introduction to Petitioning prefaced by a long and complicated slide </li></ul>
  4. 4. Status Processes Technology Communication Informal Participation Formal Consultation (Council) Formal Democracy (Representative) Social Web: The Wild West Local Government: The Law Social Networks/ Online communities Video Magazines Formal webcasting ePetitions Discussion Boards ePetitions Webcasting Communication to Formal Democracy Strategy Make better decisions Support representative PB Local strategic plan Flip point WebTV And many many others…….
  5. 5. Introduction to Petitioning <ul><li>What is a petition? </li></ul><ul><li>noun 1 a formal written request, typically one signed by many people, appealing to authority concerning a cause. 2 an appeal or request. 3 Law an application to a court for a writ, judicial action, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Oxford English Dictionary </li></ul><ul><li>Different things in different places: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Petitions can be used a formal tool or just as an awareness raising mechanism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In the UK the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill is in the process of making Petitions statutory for UK Local Authorities </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Introduction to Petitioning 10 Downing Street : The Scottish Parliament German Bundestag Website Bristol ePetition website Kingston ePetition website Dutch Petition Website
  7. 7. Introduction to Petitioning 10 Downing Street : “ We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to..” Launched in November 2006 the No 10 Petitions website has become one of the the largest non-partisan democracy sites by volume of users ever, with over 8m signatures from over 5m unique email addresses, representing around 10% of the entire UK population. 200 signatures on an epetition will trigger an email response from the UK Government.
  8. 8. Introduction to Petitioning In July 1999 the Scottish Parliament was officially opened, and by December 1999 the Scottish Parliament accepted its first e-petition working with its newly established Public Petitions Committee. As there are large rural areas in Scotland, their epetition system allows citizens to collect support widely for their petition. It also allows petitioners in different parts of the country to co-ordinate their campaigns and is useful for the Parliament in identifying where an issue has widespread support. The Scottish Parliament
  9. 9. Introduction to Petitioning Live since 2005, the Petities.NL website allows the Dutch population to create and sign petitions. By the end of 2009 the site is looking to be connected to all municipalities and to the Lower House of the Dutch government. Dutch Petition Website
  10. 10. Introduction to Petitioning Public-i worked with Bristol, with help from Napier University, to rewrite the system as a piece of open source technology The views and opinions of citizens living in the Bristol region can now be collected and discussed through their ePetitions and AskBristol site. The discussion results are forwarded to government officials and media representatives. The goal is to thereby achieve the citizen-oriented design of future plans for the Bristol region. Bristol ePetition website
  11. 11. Introduction to Petitioning The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames offers the option of submitting petitions online as well as supporting or commenting on the requests of other petitioners. Each e-petition also has its own discussion forum, where citizens can discuss the petition and surrounding issues online. Kingston ePetition website
  12. 12. Why the excitement? <ul><li>What democratic purpose can petitions serve? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They can provide a mechanism by which citizens can ensure that their concerns and ideas are formally addressed by an authority. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It is a chance for the public to contribute to the agenda and not just the debate </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Why the excitement? <ul><li>How can petitions help getting more people involved? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The best democratic marketing tool you can think of when used well </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A chance to connect with citizens directly – by their request </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Citizens’ Perspective <ul><li>People get petitioning – it has a big impact </li></ul><ul><li>Openness, trust, ease of use </li></ul><ul><li>Supporting a cause is very easy: no registration, just provide a few details about yourself </li></ul><ul><li>Access to information is easy </li></ul>
  15. 15. And how can it help? <ul><li>What possible outcomes can petitions achieve? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>considering the petition at a meeting of the authority; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>holding an inquiry; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>holding a public meeting; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>commissioning research; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>giving a written response to the petition organiser setting out the authority’s views about the request in the petition; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>in the case of a principal local authority operating executive not operating executive arrangements, referring the petition to a committee of the authority with power under or by virtue of any enactment to review or scrutinise decisions made, or other action taken, in connection with the discharge of any functions of the authority. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>( Draft Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill 2009 ) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>We are being told to! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>10 Electronic petitions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(1) A principal local authority must provide a facility for making petitions in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>electronic form to the authority. ( Draft Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill 2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But we would want to anyway: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Online only is never an answer but its an important additional channel </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Efficiency! Repeatable ‘bulk processing’ tasks work well online </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Democratic leverage. Signing a petition is a relatively easy step for someone to take but can lead them towards more substantial online engagement if you use it as an opportunity to market </li></ul></ul></ul>And why do it online?
  17. 17. Discussion <ul><li>What is your view of the possible outcomes? What will you do with petitions? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you think there is a role for paper and ePetitions working together? </li></ul><ul><li>Who do you think will start a petition? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you want to evaluate your ePetitions system? </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>What is a petition’s ‘journey’? </li></ul>
  19. 19. Workflows <ul><li>Workflow encompasses: </li></ul><ul><li>Petition owners who are the starting point for the process </li></ul><ul><li>Council Administrators who are managing the petitioning process </li></ul><ul><li>The system itself which automates the workflow process </li></ul><ul><li>The petition lifecycle is another view of this workflow </li></ul>
  20. 20. Discussion <ul><li>Where are petitions managed from currently? </li></ul><ul><li>What resources are available to manage petitions? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the political involvement? </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>Petition Moderation </li></ul>
  22. 22. Discussion on petition moderation <ul><li>You will need to define what you mean by a valid petition. Criteria to be considered could be: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Procedural: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Does the petitioner live in the right place? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are you the authority responsible for what the petitioner is asking? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is it something you are doing anyway? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is there a better mechanism for addressing the issue? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Moderation: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A perfectly valid petition can fail to be actionable – is there a clear outcome? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Do you think the petition actually addresses the core question? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Will it give the petitioner a ‘good’ democratic experience? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>Draft Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill 2009 defines it as follows: </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>a “valid petition”, in relation to a principal local authority, is a petition made to the authority which: </li></ul><ul><li>(a)   is addressed to the authority, </li></ul><ul><li>(b)   requests the authority to take or cease to take action described in the petition, </li></ul><ul><li>(c)   is validly signed by at least the specified number of persons who live, work or study in the authority’s area, </li></ul><ul><li>(d)   designates one of the persons who has validly signed it as the person with whom the authority may deal in relation to the petition, </li></ul><ul><li>(e)   is not a petition made under and in accordance with any other enactment, and </li></ul><ul><li>(f)   if the petition is in electronic form, is made using the authority’s e-petition facility. </li></ul>Discussion on petition moderation
  24. 24. Petitions as user generated content <ul><li>A Code of Conduct sets the tone and the boundaries for your user generated content and would also apply to online petitions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do you need to define a code of conduct? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What kind of behaviour are you trying to encourage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What do you want to discourage? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have you thought through what you want signatories to do next? </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Conclusions and Questions <ul><li>Petitions is a (relatively) quick win – if you want to do something around eDemocracy, eParticipation or the bill in general then petitions make sense </li></ul><ul><li>There is a real role for petitions to be a keystone application in a wider engagement strategy once it is up and running </li></ul><ul><li>The technology is simple once you know what you want it to do! </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>Thank you </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>