Open Source Urban Governance: Crowdsourcing, Neogeography, VGI, and Citizen Science

Open Source Urban Governance: Crowdsourcing, Neogeography, VGI, and Citizen Science

Carlos Nunes Silva
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7230-7.ch012
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The chapter explores the emerging paradigm of Open Source Urban Governance, a new urban policy model associated with the extensive use of computer-mediated communication and with the use of different modes of citizen mass collaboration – Crowdsourcing, Neogeography, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), and Citizen Science. The chapter is organized into five main sections. The first section discusses the concept of e-participation. The next two sections address the objectives, context, determinants, and ethical issues in e-participation, and the different levels of e-participation in each policy stage and by stakeholder. The last two sections explore the e-tools available for citizen participation in urban governance and the impacts and benefits of e-participation. The chapter ends with a reference to future research directions in this field.
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Background: The Concept Of E-Participation

E-participation is taken by some authors as synonymous of e-voting, while for others it has a broader meaning, being synonymous of e-democracy or digital democracy (Macintosh & Whyte, 2006). For this perspective, citizen e-participation includes e-voting but also innumerable other modes of citizen involvement in the policy making process. It is the case of Ann Macintosh (2004, p. 2), for whom “e-democracy is concerned with the use of information and communication technologies to engage citizens, to support the democratic decision-making processes and strengthen representative democracy.” It is also the case of Albrecht et al. (2008, p. 4), for whom e-Participation is “the participation of individuals and legal entities (including groups thereof) in political and administrative decision-making processes by means of information and communication technology.”

Therefore, in this broader perspective of e-democracy, the term e-Participation refers new modes of citizen involvement in the public policy process. It is an addition to conventional forms of citizen participation, more than a replacement for it. E-participation usually refers participatory initiatives within an institutional context, but can also be used to refer other modes of participation that emerge from the practices associated with the co-creation of digital content through the use of digital media technologies, as Saad-Sulonen (2012) shows in her study of Helsinki.

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