This chapter shares experience on aspects related to the methodology and modeling of a framework of City E-Governance Readiness. We discuss Europe’s progress in this domain using an “e-readiness” assessment methodology: the Integrated City E-Governance Policy Model of the IntelCities Research Project (2004-2007). Practices and trends in 12 European cities are analyzed, drawing on the results of a comprehensive digital city governance survey. A set of propositions are explored about the future of city e-governance. This chapter suggests that urban governments need to refine their most relevant definition of “e-governance readiness” and the underlying goals and assumptions which shape e-governance outcomes. Cities also need to adapt their approaches strategically and in the light of the increasing demand for “good governance” in an increasingly complex and networked urban knowledge society.
In the last decade, “governance” has emerged as a guiding principle of modern European democracies. In the public sector domain, it has been generally referred to as a system of rules, processes and behaviors that affect the way in which government powers are exercised on different levels, particularly as regards openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence (Barzelay, 2001; Blanke & Lopez-Clarosa, 2004; European Commission, 2003; Harding, 1998; Kolsaker, 2007; McNeil, et al., 2003; OECD 2003a,b,c; Pierre, 1999; Rhodes, 1996; Stoker, 2000; Tat-Kei Ho, 2002; Timmers, 2004). The latter constructs are in fact the main principles of “good governance”, the urban projection of which is known to lead to the more sustainable city (Castells & Hall, Eds., 1994; European Commission 2002; Van Den Berg & Van Winden, 2002). In the pursuit of the “sustainable city” in the electronic age, a recent IntelCities Integrated Project1 developed the notion of “city e-governance” that is principally viewed as “good governance” in which urban government uses advanced Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to exercise its powers given by the citizens based on a new organization and relationships with the stakeholders and the local community, towards achieving common urban development goals (Paskaleva-Shapira, 2005; Van Der Meer & Van Winden, 2003). This approach is radically different from other existing approaches to local e-governance. It emphasizes the broader urban aspects of ICT adoption in city governing and provides for integrated development and strategic policy-making.
During 2004-2007, the IntelCities Project brought together eighteen cities, twenty ICT companies and thirty three research groups from Europe to pool advanced knowledge and experience of electronic government, urban planning and knowledge systems and citizens participation and create a new and innovative interoperable e-government platform and services to meet the needs of both residents and businesses. To assist the architecture, evaluation and implementation of the Integrated Open System City Platform (e-City Platform), the City e-Governance Framework was developed as a novel approach to urban policy-making in the electronic age. An integrated system of policies and actions was designed to establish the basis for the necessary transformation in urban e-governance (Paskaleva-Shapira, 2005).