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					    E-Democracy

       Tony Fleming
   IM and E-Government
London Borough of Lewisham



     tony.fleming@lewisham.gov.uk   1
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                      Teaching points
•     Don’t know your PeDiL from your iCan?
•     Did you think that ‘Brain’ only meant the thing between your ears?
•     Do you think that ‘Iediss’ was an ancient Egyptian god?

If so, read on…

Every major election includes a comment on low electorate turnout and the weak link
   between the British people and politicians. As a result, we now have a multitude of
   mainly web based projects to make it easier to engage in debate, find out what our
   political masters are up to and campaign on local issues. But with these ‘solutions’
   there are a host of questions: Are we focussing on the symptom or the cause? What
   exactly *is* being done? What can we point to as a working example and the most
   important question ‘Will people even be interested?’

This is a whistlestop tour through the current e-democracy projects around the country
    and an examination of some of the issues that have sprung up around the concept of
    e-democracy. If you want to find out more and (more importantly) the answers to the
    first three questions, come along!!


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                          Overview
•   Background to Lewisham’s IM and E-Gov department
•   Current situation
•   A definition of e-democracy
•   Current projects (not-exhaustive!)
•   Problems with e-democracy
•   Any questions
•   But first…




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                        A disclaimer
• Views expressed during this
  presentation are my own and
  are not necessarily the views
  of the London Borough of
  Lewisham.




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Background to the IM and E-Gov Team


                  London Borough of Lewisham



 Education   Social Care             Regeneration       Resources



                                  IM and E-Government




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Current situation




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                     Where we are

•   Remote bureaucracies
•   Opaque decision-making structures
•   Fragmented local services and accountability
•   Declining participation in traditional institutions
•   Rise of single issue politics




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            Where we want to be
“‘Strong democracy’ requires strong and interactive links
between state and civil society, between government and the
governed ….. We have the prospect of national and local
governments interacting with citizens via web sites, e-mail
addresses and public information kiosks. We also have
experiments with electronic voting, electronic voter guides,
citizen juries and the like.”
Source: Hague and Loader, Digital Democracy




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                            Drivers
• Need to re-establish link between people and government.
• Reclaim legitimacy of representative democracy
• But these aren’t the only drivers…




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          Priority Service Outcomes
A list of 14 key areas that the ODPM has marked for special attention
e.g. Transport, Community Information, Environment etc.

Each with its own objectives and deadlines

Central government funding depends on results

Key areas with an e-democracy slant are Community Information,
Democratic Renewal and Accessibility




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          Priority Service Outcomes
• Priority Outcome 2 - Community Information
   Enable local organisations to create & maintain online content

• Priority Outcome 3 - Democratic Renewal
   Councillors own web pages
   Online citizen participation in consultations
   Online access to past council meeting papers and a diary of future
   meetings

• Priority Outcome 12 - Accessibility
   Conforms to W3C AA standards
   Conforms to Dublin Core & e-GMS and metadata standards




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A definition of e-democracy




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                      E-democracy

Application of information and communication technologies (ICT)
to the do the following:


• Facilitate participation e.g. voting and discussion fora
• Broaden participation for people felt to be excluded from the
  process
• Deepen participation – make dealing with government more than a
  ‘tick in the box’ every 5 years
Source: ‘in the service of democracy’ - HMG (2002)




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               E-voting – pilots so far
• 2000 – 3 e-voting/counting pilots
• 2002 – 9 e-voting pilots, individual ward based
• 2003 – 17 e-voting pilots, whole LA areas, 25% votes cast were cast
  electronically
• 2004 – no e-voting, postal voting in the North and E Midlands.




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    Projects




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           Some of the current e-democracy projects

 BRAIN – from the London Borough of Brent
 DirectGov – ‘son of UK Online’
 PeDil – Practical eDemocracy in London
 IEDISS – NE London Consortium
 Councillor.Info – Councillor webpages
 BBC iCan – fully interactive - encourages publishing campaigns
  with online voting to support or oppose, comment on articles etc
 Local e-Democracy National Project – ODPM funded




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BRAIN – LB Brent




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                      What is BRAIN?
 BRAIN (Brent Resource and Information Network) is a
community website for people who live and work in Brent.

 Launched in 1998. Redeveloped in 2004.

 Separate from Council website.

 Information on local services.

 www.brentbrain.org.uk




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          BRAIN’s support for e-democracy

 Online Polls – updated every month and used to assess
public opinion on local issues

 Chat forums – participation from a diverse community –
councillors have already started joining in…




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BRAIN Homepage




                               Quick Poll –
                               monthly polls
                               on local
                               issues



                               Open Chat
                               forums for
                               anyone to
                               chat online

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BRAIN - Quick Online Polls




                                   77% of people don’t
                                   know any of their
                                   own councillors!




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BRAIN – Chat Forums




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                           DirectGov
• The successor to “uk online”
• Still part of the national core infrastructure for egovernment
• Accessible via Sky’s digital service/DigiTV




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      PeDiL (Practical e-Democracy in
                 London)
• ODPM project based in Camden but managed by London Connects.
• Hosts web sites for community groups, citizens' panels, and online
  tools to help councillors interact more effectively with the public.
• See live version at www.camdennet.org.uk




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                             IEDISS
• Integrated Electronic Democracy Information and Support Service.
• Project run for the NE London Consortium (Barking & Dagenham,
  Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Havering and Waltham
  Forest),
• Programme managed by RSe Consulting.
• LB Lewisham asked to assist.
• Deliverables included an A-Z of local government and category list.
• http://moderngov.newham.gov.uk




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A-Z of local government




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Category List




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                    Usability testing
• Needed validation from members of the public
• Testing done by Usability Works Ltd.
• Demo website of a fictitious borough “London Borough of
  Spitalfields”
• www.usabilityworks.co.uk




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And now, a film…




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                       Councillor.info
•   Developed by Poptel Technologies
•   Allows councillors to develop their own web presence
•   Governed by an “acceptable use policy”
•   Provides online web statistics and discussion forum with other users




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                          BBC’s iCAN
• Created following the 2001 General Election
• Act as a guide and a focus point for personal campaigning
• Three broad categories
   – Find information – category list covering major areas. Details on
     relevant campaigns and organisations
   – Find people - get help with campaigning – MPs, councillors and
     pressure groups.
   – Take action – publicise events, ask for/offer help, advice on
     campaigning
• http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ican/




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BBC Ican




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   Local e-Democracy National Project
• £4m budget
• Timescale - deliver by December 2004
• Participants (Surrey, Wolverhampton, Leicester, St. Albans,
  Sheffield, N Lincolnshire, Kingston, Lewisham, Leeds, Kirklees,
  Southwark and Bristol)




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                      Workstreams
1.   Developing the e-democracy environment (De Montfort
     University)
2.   Strengthening existing democratic practices (Wolverhampton,
     Surrey)
3.   Addressing the democratic deficit (Lewisham)
4.   Public opinion and e-democracy (Bristol)
5.   Database of best practice; marketing campaign - dissemination
     and roll-out (St Albans)




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                       Deliverables
•   High level map of e-democracy cases and examples by theme
•   Online searchable database
•   Market research with users and stakeholders
•   Online community of practitioners




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Problems with e-Democracy




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           Problems with e-democracy
•   Symptoms or causes?
•   Public and political acceptance
•   Lack of resources: time, money and new priorities
•   Fraud and identification
•   How will the transition be managed?
•   Reliability of the technology




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           Problems with e-democracy
• “People will not participate unless they have good reason to believe
  that in doing so they might affect the outcome…will the powers that
  be actually follow through?”

• “I distrust electronic voting because it lacks transparency – there is
  no ballot box and the votes can be easily ‘lost’”

• “There are elderly and uneducated people who either cannot use the
  net or cannot easily acquire access to a computer…the result would
  be to disenfranchise some portion of the electorate and leave the
  business in the hands of the computer competent.”

• “One simple and compelling argument against e-voting is that it re-
  introduces the possibility of coercion.”



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How will e-democracy impact on the
              public?
Will future turnout be -

     like this?                              or like this?




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                          Key Points

• Overlapping projects serve to provide alternatives to the public
• Common themes in e-democracy projects are – access to
  information and reducing the feeling of powerless
• Won’t replace single issue politics e.g. War in Iraq, airport
  expansion, “Swampy”




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              Further information
•   Standards, guidance and discusson on e-gov www.ukgovtalk.gov.uk
•   News on e-government and ICT www.ukauthority.gov.uk
•   National e-democracy site www.e-democracy.gov.uk
•   e-democracy national project www.e-dem.info
•   Voting www.aboutmyvote.co.uk
•   Usability Works www.usabilityworks.co.uk




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                         Contact
Tony Fleming
IM and E-Government Team
London Borough of Lewisham

020 8314 6615
tony.fleming@lewisham.gov.uk
www.lewisham.gov.uk/imeg




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Any questions?




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