Towards a Reference Model and a Web-Based Framework for eParticipation Services Design

Towards a Reference Model and a Web-Based Framework for eParticipation Services Design

Federica Paganelli (National Interuniversity Consortium for Telecommunications, University of Florence, Firenze, Italy) and Francesca Pecchi (Social Care, Education, Culture & Sport Office, Comune di Capolona, Tuscany, Italy)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/irmj.2013040101

Abstract

eParticipation involves the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for facilitating the two-way communication between governments and citizens. Designing eParticipation activities is a complex task. Challenges include the need for interdisciplinary expertise and knowledge (e.g., in political, sociology, usability and technology domains) and the lack of widely accepted models and technological standards. This paper paves the way for the definition of a basic reference model for eParticipation, providing guidelines for the design, implementation and management of eParticipation web applications. This model was put into practice for the design of an eParticipation Framework helping users in designing, customizing and deploying web-based services for a given eParticipation process. The authors also report on the experimental use of the Framework in a group of Tuscany municipalities for carrying out participatory budget activities.
Article Preview

Introduction

Many governments around the world are promoting initiatives in the e-Government domain, with the objective of rationalizing internal processes and improving services delivered to citizens, while containing costs (Hassan, Shebab & Peppard, 2011; Heeks & Bailur, 2007; Steyaert, 2002).

Among several e-Government application domains, eParticipation involves the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for facilitating the two-way communication between governments and citizens. According to the definition provided by Creighton (2005), “public participation is the process by which public concerns, needs, and values are incorporated into governmental and corporate decision making. It is two-way communication and interaction, with the overall goal of better decisions that are supported by the public”.

Typically, public participation processes include actions for informing, involving and consulting citizens within one or more specific stages of the democratic process.

Designing eParticipation activities is a complex task. Challenges include the need for interdisciplinary expertise and knowledge in different domains (e.g., political, sociology, usability and technology domains), as well as the lack of widely accepted models and technological standards.

Despite the widespread adoption of ICT tools for the carrying out of participatory processes, low support is provided to designers in the overall design of the participation process, from high-level requirements specifications to technical implementation and deployment of web-based services.

Public bodies (typically municipalities) can define different policies for participation, by asking for citizens’ involvement for different purposes and within different stages of the policy making process. In this context, the main objective of this work consists in devising a configurable and extensible Framework that designers can use to put such high-level participation guidelines and rules into practice. Configurability and extensibility requirements have to be taken into account in order to promote the re-use and the evolution of the framework by public bodies.

In order to cope with these issues, the intended contribution of this work can be distinguished into:

  • A general-purpose model for e-Participation defined as the intertwining of a policy-making process and participation activities.

  • A set of guidelines helping eparticipation designers in choosing most appropriate information and communication services for each type of on-line participation activity.

  • An eparticipation framework helping users in designing, customizing and deploying web-based services for a given eparticipation process.

These activities were carried out in the framework of “Telep@b”, a two-year project funded by the Italian Minister for Innovation in Public Administration. Within Telep@b, the eParticipation Framework was exploited to implement participatory budget processes in a group of municipalities in Tuscany (a region in Italy). This reference scenario was especially challenging, since each municipality was administratively and operationally autonomous in defining and implementing its own participatory process. Lessons learnt from this experience are driving re-design and experimentation activities in a follow-on project, named PAAS-Telep@b.

The discussion on the exploitation of ICTs to improve quality and effectiveness of governance process and citizens’ participation into the democracy process is not novel. Some of the earliest contributions have been provided by Arterton (1987), Becker (1993) and McLean (1989), who investigated the potential role of interactive television and telephone/conferencing systems. In the last decade and half, the focus has been shifted on internet and web technologies, starting from some seminal contributions, including the ones provided by Bellamy and Taylor (1998), Kamarck and Nye (1999), and Gattiker (2001).

Complete Article List

Search this Journal:
Reset
Open Access Articles: Forthcoming
Volume 32: 4 Issues (2019): 1 Released, 3 Forthcoming
Volume 31: 4 Issues (2018)
Volume 30: 4 Issues (2017)
Volume 29: 4 Issues (2016)
Volume 28: 4 Issues (2015)
Volume 27: 4 Issues (2014)
Volume 26: 4 Issues (2013)
Volume 25: 4 Issues (2012)
Volume 24: 4 Issues (2011)
Volume 23: 4 Issues (2010)
Volume 22: 4 Issues (2009)
Volume 21: 4 Issues (2008)
Volume 20: 4 Issues (2007)
Volume 19: 4 Issues (2006)
Volume 18: 4 Issues (2005)
Volume 17: 4 Issues (2004)
Volume 16: 4 Issues (2003)
Volume 15: 4 Issues (2002)
Volume 14: 4 Issues (2001)
Volume 13: 4 Issues (2000)
Volume 12: 4 Issues (1999)
Volume 11: 4 Issues (1998)
Volume 10: 4 Issues (1997)
Volume 9: 4 Issues (1996)
Volume 8: 4 Issues (1995)
Volume 7: 4 Issues (1994)
Volume 6: 4 Issues (1993)
Volume 5: 4 Issues (1992)
Volume 4: 4 Issues (1991)
Volume 3: 4 Issues (1990)
Volume 2: 4 Issues (1989)
Volume 1: 1 Issue (1988)
View Complete Journal Contents Listing