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DELIVERABLE  

Project Acronym: APOLLON

Grant Agreement number: 250516

Project Title: Advanced Pilots of Living Labs Operating in Networks

D.5.2 Methodology for eParticipation through eMedia

Revision: FINAL

Authors:

Eric Legale (Issy Media)


Sébastien Lévy (Issy Media)

Project co-funded by the European Commission within the ICT Policy Support Programme
Dissemination Level
P Public X
C Confidential, only for members of the consortium and the Commission Services
  Apollon  –  Deliverable  D  5.2    

2   Version FINAL, 20/04/2010


  Apollon  –  Deliverable  D  5.2    

The  information  in  this  document  is  provided  as  is  and  no  guarantee  or  warranty  
is  given  that  the  information  is  fit  for  any  particular  purpose.    The  user  thereof  
uses  the  information  at  its  sole  risk  and  liability.  
 
Statement  of  originality:    
 
This  deliverable  contains  original  unpublished  work  except  where  clearly  
indicated  otherwise.  Acknowledgement  of  previously  published  material  and  of  
the  work  of  others  has  been  made  through  appropriate  citation,  quotation  or  both.  

3   Version FINAL, 20/04/2010


  Apollon  –  Deliverable  D  5.2    

Table of contents

Project Summary .................................................................................................................... 5  


III.   Overview/Analysis of the pre-existing eParticipation initiatives in
Living Labs................................................................................................................................ 9  
IV.   Main/Essential criteria for implementing a successful eParticipation
pilot  16  
A.   Domain, Subject, Ways ......................................................................................... 18  
B.   Identification / definition of the users ................................................................. 21  
C.   Remarks on the tools and means for user participation ................................ 23  
F.   Funding, Evaluation, Sustainability..................................................................... 29  

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  Apollon  –  Deliverable  D  5.2    

Project Summary

The main issues addressed by APOLLON (Advanced Pilots Of Living Labs


Operating in Networks) are the present lack of Living Lab harmonisation and
collaboration, and the serious difficulties of SMEs in engaging in cross-border
innovation.
APOLLON will demonstrate the positive impacts of cross-border domain-specific
Living Lab networks, by setting up an advanced pilot composed of 4 thematically
focused European-wide Living Lab experiments. SMEs are enabled to take part
in cross-border Living Lab experiments beyond their home markets, and are
supported by large industrial companies, academic centres and other
stakeholders.

The APOLLON pilot aims to share and to harmonise the Living Lab approaches
and platforms between exemplary European networks as well as the subsequent
evaluation results and the set up of sustainable domain-specific networks on a
European and global level.

APOLLON addresses 4 major domains in which ICT products and services


innovation may benefit most from cross-border Living Lab networking. These are:

1) Homecare and Independent Living


2) Energy Efficiency
3) eManufacturing
4) eParticipation

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The project consortium of the domain 4 is composed of:


Issy Media ( France), Université de Paris VIII (France), IBBT (Belgium), Manchester
City Council ( United-Kingdom), 3D2+ (France), Navidis (France), and People’s Voice
Media (France)

The objectives of Work Package 5 are the following:


 Sharing and comparing technologies/ methodologies in order to understand to
which local, regional, national results can be extended to other contexts and
which common technology/methodology can be built for generalization.
 Adapting technologies/methodologies to the European context.
 Integrating technologies/methodologies to overcome fragmentation of services
 Promoting citizens’ innovation to eMedia participation in Europe and
evaluating if cross-border user testing can help existing projects to open to the
European audience.

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II. Introduction

The deliverable 5.2 is intended to assess an extensive analysis of requirements for


the sustainable implementation and deployment of an eParticipation through eMedia
project in Living Labs. The focus is on the analysis of the feedback gathered from the
stakeholders affected by the participative applications in order to effectively
determine the basic principles, barriers and opportunities that underlie eParticipation
projects in the framework of Living Labs.

An increasing number of SMEs, organizations and governments worldwide


understand the use of Information and Communication technologies to broaden
citizens’ engagement in services and products creation. As a result, the number of
eParticipation projects and relevant tools is growing. This makes the need of
recording and reviewing such projects and tools in order to assess a successful
eParticipation project development strategy and concepts.

The document provides an analysis that was carried out on the companies,
administrations and Living Labs applying communication technology and
eParticipation processes, with the goal of deriving best practices and defining the
conditions that facilitate the implementation, integration and adoption of ICT. We will
also identify the barriers and constraints in the field, and use the outcome as a
starting point for a methodology for cross-border domain-specific Living Lab
networks.
Based on the analysis of the inputs we collected, two sets of conditions were
revealed. They were the conditions related to the integration and adoption of ICT
(habits, acceptability, involvement of the users, language, copyright, and legal
issues) and the supporting conditions correlated with the continuation of this
implementation (engagement maintenance, user empowerment). The study is based
on the distinction between participation domains (eGov, eR&D, eHealth….) and ICT
support for these domains and suggests assessment to be performed using specific
templates that are developed for this purpose.

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The deliverable is organized as follows. After a short introduction of the research


subject and the main problems it attempts to approach, we will present several
eParticipation projects related to the technologies used by the Apollon pilots, followed
by a comparative SWOT analysis for the specified projects. More precisely, we will
present and compare the various tools and mechanisms used, in order to understand
which of the local results can be extended to a broader scale (regional, national,
European) and we will suggest potential improvements to the methods used by
describing how and in which contexts the tools should be used and how to combine
them to enable inclusive engagement. In the third part we will briefly define the main
problems to be faced during the implementation and deployment process and we will
outline the major phases of an eParticipation project development (subject, user
identification, tools to be used, communication methods, engagement maintenance,
funding, business models and sustainability). In the conclusion we will summarize
what we could observe from our case studies and we will try to set out some practical
recommendations for deploying a successful eParticipation project connecting users,
SMEs and local authorities in the framework of Living Labs.

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III. Overview/Analysis of the pre-existing eParticipation


initiatives in Living Labs

The objective of this chapter is to present an evaluation framework relevant to the


eParticipation practice projects operating in Living Labs and to present challenges
and difficulties on the basis of SWOT analyze of projects pilots. The examples used
are relevant to the tools used by the APOLLON pilots and to the cross-media context.
The analysis will take into account differences in the cultural and administrative
approach to eParticipation in different European countries. All the information used
on the analyze was collected mainly through a questionnaire sent to the members of
the European Network of Official Living Labs. As the responsiveness was quite weak,
we contacted Napier University and the European Commission in order to analyze as
wide range of information as possible. We took into account all information gathered
but we focused more particularly on the Living Labs approach on eParticipation
citizens and business oriented initiatives.

In reality the majority of eParticipation projects come from well developed countries,
where Internet penetration is quite high and access to technology is considered as
easy. The use of ICT for participatory purposes in general, is seen to be more likely
to occur in contexts that are less affected by the issues of digital divide where the
diffusion of the use and adoption of ICT is quite popular. Nonetheless, it is important
to keep in mind that access and presence of the technology does not guarantee an
elaborate use and understanding of the different technologies in place.
The cities that developed eParticipation initiatives in a framework of Living Labs they
have put in place services and human interface which considerably facilitate ICT use
and diffusion. Besides differences in the level of interactivity and in the ways to
gather feedback, each city hosting LL focuses on ICT use to improve different
community services and to smoothen the communication between policymakers,
business and citizens.
The study cases analyzed below correlate with eParticipation through eMedia
concept as the pilots act on several different communication platforms. The purpose
of this analyze is to show the strengthens and the weaknesses of those approach in

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order to define which of the saw cases could be implemented in the framework of
APOLLON pilots. Nevertheless each of the analyzed pilots was deployed on a local
scale which above all will demand to answer the question “is any of the successful
technology/strategy applicable outside the affected local area?” since in this context
we have cultural and legal issues emerging.

1) Manchester

The idea of using the blend of traditional media, visitor workshops and Flickr, was
successfully put into practice in Manchester, for promoting the opening of a new
library in the city. The favorable outcome of the event is due in a big part to the
blending of social media and face-to-face workshops, with the incentive of the
participants knowing that their image could be part of a public art installation at the
end of the process. Flickr has been used to reinforce peoples’ engagement by
bringing the images to wider attention. Overall, the library service has concluded that
the use of Flickr enabled them to generate a small but enthusiastic community
around their activities.

Web blogs are also important, but to a smaller extent, as user engagement is difficult
to measure. However, blogs that deal with specialized or localized content are more
successful and durable than those covering every subject. The city of Manchester
made successful use of this tool in promoting the community online library via the
Manchester Lit List Blog. The blog focused on literature content ranging from the
latest books in the library to poetry and writing competitions. Engagement was
difficult to measure, but the library recognized that in order to gain and maintain
interest, updates must be frequent and varied. Others indicators of successful
engagement through the blog was for example an oversubscription of more than 200
people to the free lecture series run in 2009 which was promoted via the blog. The
library service had to stop online promotion of the series as demand was too great.

In general, promoting the platform effectively was key for the success of the
participatory process.

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2) WISDOM
WISDOM is a community web service which organize, manage and update the
information concerning 5 rural communities on one website. The project was funded
by Carnegie Trust UK and it has benefited greatly from input by local community
network volunteers, District Council officials, Cumbria County Neighbourhood
Development Officers, and views offered by CN Media Group.
The main purpose of the project is to explore and built links between community
network (by giving them the capacity to develop & publish content concerning their
everyday life subject, for example their plans for collecting rubbish, prioritizing
highways work and parking schemes) and public sector organizations (including
central and local government) who seek to interact with the public on-line. A further
objective of the project is to consider aspects of national website models that are
devoted to the reinforcement of the community network and its social implications.
The website was developed over several years with the help of local residents and a
number of partner organizations and community groups, this group has been
involved in on-going development, including the design and feel of the web service,
site layout, and navigation– which has created a sense of ownership. They have also
helped determine editorial and moderating policies and some of them have been
trained to publish stories, videos and short films on the website. The aim was to
creatively involve local people in website content creation with a purpose to reach
citizens groups that are not normally interested in the use of internet e.g. middle aged
males and elderly people.
Concerning the tools, project coordinators rejected expensive software and they have
used for the website a bespoke Content Management System which provides
flexibility and usability. The Website is set up to deliver a range of cross-media
services, including text alerts when the roads over the moors are liable to become
blocked by snow or ice and a lift sharing service or a local TV service which is
available to promote community cohesion through shared on-line culture.
Even if the site has been successful the project coordinators had reported several
difficulties while its deployment and implementation process.
The main obstacles were high cost of delivering services to dispersed rural and
remote populations, a lack of capacity (people unable to offer support and training in

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new applications), low access (PCs and broadband) and content (relevant, timely
information).
Thanks to the report sent by the project coordinators we could analyze some of the
portals created for the WISDOM project.

Alston Cybermoor Community Portal


The site appears to be well used and with an average of 22,000 visitors per month.
One of the objectives of the e-consultation was to collect qualitative feedback from
the community to support the Community Travel Plan process and the Local
Transport Plan 2 and to meet some of the County Council’s core objectives of

encouraging community participation in transportation issues and promoting


discussion and understanding of the modern transport agenda.

Phase I of the online consultation started on December 3rd 2007. The consultation
provided an overview of the history of the Alston Moor Community Travel Plan and
the aim of producing a prioritized list of highway improvements the local community
felt was necessary in their local area. Comprehensive background material was also
made available, namely relevant transport plans and meeting reports, as well as an
overview to the Local Government system and links to other websites. A list of
suggestions was also presented showing highway improvements already made by
the community to be included in the Community Travel Plan, as well as a map of the
area highlighting the different priorities. Users were asked to comment on the plan
and the priorities already identified via the online forum. 52 contributions were
received via the online forum and 6 comments were flagged on the map. Phase 2 of
the consultation began on December 7th 2007 and ran until January 7th 2008.
Members of the community were asked to complete an online survey and to vote on
five schemes they felt would be the most beneficial to the community. The budgeted
cost of each scheme and the Local Transport Plan (LTP) Assessed Priority as well as
a copy of the scoring sheet used by Cumbria Highways to assess the schemes were
made available. It was agreed at the Alston Moor Traffic Management Meeting held
on 29th January to reopen the online survey with a new closing date of February 15th.

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This extended voting time was promoted via an email newsletter to members and via
the cybermoor website newspage. A combined total of 23 members of the community
voted on their preferred priorities via the online survey.

General Observations & Conclusions


The consultation was the first online trial carried out by Cybermoor using this new
software. Some teething problems with the system were encountered during the
initial part of the trial.
The consultation was promoted and accessed via the homepage of the Alston
Cybermoor community site, the Cybermoor discussion forums, via e-newsletter to
members, as well as in the local press.
All users of the Cybermoor site were automatically registered as users of the new
consultation site using the same login/password as their Cybermoor details.
Unfortunately, some initial problems with regard to how users logged-in to the site
was confusing and would appear to have put these users off returning to take part in
the survey.
Coincidentally, users of the Cybermoor webmail system were forced to change their
passwords during this period and this also added to the confusion regarding logging-
in to the new site.
Surprisingly, unlike the Cybermoor community discussion forums, there were no
cases of anyone making flippant or inappropriate postings on the new site.
It is not enough to set the consultation up, provide backup information, options,
selection criteria, etc and expect it just to take off and participants to engage in lively
and meaningful discussion. For an online consultation of this kind to work within the
community, there needs to be an ongoing commitment and involvement from some
of the stakeholders involved in the issue during the actual consultation process to
facilitate and stimulate the ongoing debate to add value to the process.
Many users who participated in the first phase of the consultation by making
comments and suggestions via the discussion forums, did not participate in the
online survey. On investigation, this was due in part to the fact that they apparently
had not realised the survey was there. In addition, there were problems with logging-
in.

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The consultation site registered 3596 views since it went online on 3rd December
(810 of these were registered during the re-opening of the survey following the Traffic
Management meeting on 29th January), which suggests that plenty of people were
looking at the site, but not participating in an interactive way. Analysis of why this was
the case has revealed that some people were put off initially by the problems with the
logging-in process and in addition, they hadn’t realized the survey was taking place.
There was also some indication that some users who are very active on the
Cybermoor discussion forums had reservations about using the new consultation
site, perhaps because it was out of their normal comfort zone.

Witherslack Portal

The Witherslack community website (www.witherslack.org) covers Witherslack,


Meathop and Ulpha, village hamlets situated a few miles from Grange over Sands in
South Lakeland. 600 inhabitants are targeted by the community network website
which is managed by a sub-group formed from members of the Parish Council and
Witherslack Rural Enterprise.
A number of adverts appear on the site. In addition, a business directory section is
developing offering information about businesses operating in the area. However,
several items appear to be out of date and some links are broken. Items about local
clubs and school news are out of date and no information about future events is
visible. However, considering the Easter holiday period had just taken place, the
web-site contains some important up to date news items. For example, there is a
news item about the controversial closure of post offices and intimation about a
future AGM to discuss alternative possibilities. The website also contains a news item
covering Lakeland District Council’s current recycling plans. In addition there is a link

to Witherslack, Meathop and Ulpha Parish Council, which provides information about
Parish meetings. The Events Section is being used reasonably well. An interview was
conducted with the web developer to assess her perspectives. When asked to
consider technical issues, she indicated that: the package is great, easy to use and
understand - some users struggle with the navigation around the site and there is
scope here for improvement using drop down menus perhaps. The basic design is
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simple and effective but would now benefit from some modernization. Comments in
relation to “marketing and promotion‟ of the web-site suggest that if the site were to

be re-launched in a new format it would provide a real opportunity to create new


interest. It was felt that “educating community users to have the website as their
homepage is effective if they have a computer…however, there are still many people
not connected.“ The web address is constantly promoted in Parish magazine and
Parish Council newsletter. The coordinators have also developed an email list which
is used to send alerts and links to the site for those opting into it – but this service
may be taking project into the Data Protection area and could create problems.

The interest and use of the site has developed very slowly but it's definitely
something that many people on the community have now started getting comfortable
with and would feel very disappointed to lose - slowly creating a dependency!
Without a doubt, barriers and brakes on development were down to money and time.
When asked whether volunteers could or should be paid from income generated by
the site, the website developer said: Certainly when income is generated it should be
reinvested for marketing for users and advertisers. There are always specific tasks
which could be completed with the incentive of reimbursement eg collating all the
businesses within the parish, contacting all businesses to canvass for advertising
revenue. The site is limited to how much advertising can be placed so the revenue
would be finite and only moved upwards by the rate. When asked the extent to which
it was likely/unlikely that people want to take part in a civic discussion forum, the
answer was as follows: This would be entirely dependent upon the type of user. Who
currently uses forums? Yes, if people were to use them they would be a very useful
tool if there was someone moderating and collating it. Our site doesn't visually
encourage the use of forums which may be an issue with the low take up.
When considering how people could best discuss aspects of where they live eg. what
is good and needs to be preserved as well as what needs to be improved, the
response was that this is probably best led by the county council (who may have
more funding) and fed out through an individual parish council as a pilot? The
following strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and risks were also identified
by the Witherslack website developer as noted below in her own words.
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Strengths An easy and effective tool needed in the modern rural community where
communication is challenged by closure of services and poverty in socializing
opportunities. Can be a great representation of the vibrancy of a community and a
great source of information.

Weaknesses and Barriers whole dependence on unpaid voluntary sector. Requires


investment to establish it firmly within the network of communication. Biggest Barriers
includes reluctance of users to interact with the site, outside their comfort zone; their
feelings of ownership need to be encouraged to overcome that reluctance.

Threats and Risks MONEY!!!! If it isn't funded it will disappear. The burden would
then fall probably to one sufficiently motivated volunteer to create and administer a
site which wouldn't then be 'owned' by the community. Did you know that the greater
amount of work a volunteer does in the community is inversely proportional to their
popularity?! This is why the dynamics of voluntary work is so delicate - if it's paid for it
relieves some of this tension as it is seen as an honest transaction rather than
perceived as a poorly and misconstrued intention.

Opportunities massively effective tool assuming all the community can and want to
interact with it

Source Cybermoor Ltd. WISDOM Project Officer, June 2008

IV. Main/Essential criteria for implementing a successful


eParticipation pilot

This part of deliverable will provide a cross-analysis of experiences and SWOT


analysis results in order to identify and structure common aspects that might be
generalized into a cross-border standard framework. However is important to mention
that for the moment it is impossible to set up any methodology as the evidence of the
outcome is largely anecdotal and in most cases not systematically gathered and

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analyzed. There is also a general lack of documentation concerning the


methodologies used for a projects set-up and for customer satisfaction measurement
in both public and private sectors.
Definitely more research is required on social computing impact on the public and
private stakeholders to enable strategy standardization in the framework of cross-
national implementation of eParticipation projects. Nevertheless according to the
feedback we received from the institutions and agents mentioned above we intended
to define the main problems to be faced during the implementation and deployment
processes. The elements we identified as critical for the exploit are the following:
• Domains of eParticipation application
• Identification and choice of users
• Tools to be used
• Communication to attract target users
• Engagement maintenance, users engagement support
• Funding, business models and sustainability

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Phases of project conceptualization

Project Area
-Information,
-Consultation
Influence -Active participation

Project  subject    
-­‐Environement  
-­‐Politics  
-­‐Health  
-­‐etc....  
Determine

Participatory
techniques

Supported by

Participatory
Tools

A. Domain, Subject, Ways

There are three main eParticipation areas information provision and consultation,
deliberation and active participation. According to this we identified in our previous

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deliverable 5.1 three types of projects such as the WLANd project in Salzburg,
ADAME- Ile de France regional website or Ucount4eu European project which main
objective is to increase citizens’ awareness, government transparency and
information share with citizens, A second category of projects is exemplified by the
UK Talk, I-Folio of the city of Issy-les-Moulineaux, People Voice Media projects of the
Manchester libraries site or Lahti –Finish. They are seeing to facilitate the free flow of
shared knowledge between citizens and policymakers, organizations and R&D
departments. The third project category involve opportunities for citizens to exploit
‘the wisdom of the crowd’ and thereby exercise influence on government and politics
and initiate policy ideas. The Estonian TOM, UK Tweety Hall or Scottish Parliament
projects provide examples of the various forms that such initiatives can take.
There is often a narrow connection between participation areas, tools used and
engagement level. Most eParticipation initiatives do take place at sub-national and
national level, with only 24% of 255 surveyed initiatives having an Europe-wide or
transnational character. That allows drawing the conclusion that relatively small
target audience of eParticipation initiatives (region, city and district) is more willing to
engage in the more specific initiatives.
Local eParticipation projects, from the socio cultural point of view, allow more active
participation and greater capacity to reach tangible decisions and its inclusive and
horizontal character seems to stimulate openness and offers an effective means of
mobilizing support, as well as disseminating information and providing advice on
specific issues. The most popular subjects of participative applications are mentioned
in table below:

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The main objective while choosing eParticipation subject is to respond to the user
needs and expectations. Participating is not a “natural” activity, people are more
willing to interact around specific local subject where they can enhance their
knowledge and while they feel being personally involved by the issue like for example
rebuilding a public place in the city of Hamburg, on initiatives in Berlin and Munich to
create an Internet dialogue with citizens about what family-friendly living in each city
should be or on ways to improve the service in the local health care organism
(hospital, clinic etc). Those initiatives illustrate that the more general is the scale of
eParticipation subjects the more likely it is to be purely one-way information flow
rather than genuine two-ways engagement.  However, for this to develop further there
is common agreement in this study that greater understanding is needed, from both
policy makers and users.   Negative attitudes need to be challenged both within local
councils from the top down and also within the local community.

We also conclude that having a more precise scope defined for each forum topic
would help in developing specific promotion methods to attract each target groups
and inspire them to participate and contribute to the project.

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B. Identification / definition of the users

When dealing with user centric service delivery the identification of an ideal users
(who are composed of both citizens and also business) seems to be determining
factor during for a project conceptualization. One of the most important drawbacks to
current eParticipation initiatives is the large and diverse range of stakeholders which
have different needs and preferences, diverse interests, backgrounds, perspectives,
and linguistic and technical capabilities. In the foreseeable future there will remain
citizens who only use technology minimally, citizens who have a wide range of skills
and experience in the latest technologies and citizens with a wide range of literacy
and communication skills. In addition, there will remain citizens who like talking about
civic issues and want more opportunities to do so and there will be others who will
only be involved when an issue is close to their own interests.
A lack of understanding of principal participatory behaviors and expectations may
lead to the project failure as the attention has to be paid not only to different types
and profiles of citizens, in terms of their e-skills, attitudes, and use of information and
communication technologies, but also their social groups and customer segments.
There are two main groups of users: moderators of the tool (experts, elected
representatives, private company, civil society organizations...) and users of the tool
(experts, elected representatives, professional or lay stakeholders, (non-)randomly
selected or self-selected participants…).

Unfortunately it is very difficult to proceed to certain conclusions as there is no


literature showing how to shape users up in a single framework. After the analysis of
existing documentation and case studies it is only possible to arrive at some general
reflections on a following variable to be used while choosing your target users:
• Demographic (e.g. gender, marital status, income, occupational prestige, and
home ownership)
• Attitudinal and behavioral (e.g. interest in the campaign, access to political
information, general political knowledge, strength of partisanship, feelings of
civic duty, internal and external efficacy, personal skill acquisition, altruism,

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and patience )
• Social (e.g. interpersonal communication, social identification, group
consciousness, socialization, political disagreement, and social capital)

Depending on the history and tradition of a country’s constitution(s), the roles and the
impact of the user groups vary among the different countries. While choosing target
users, is vital to precisely identify their role and engagement level in the process with
a purpose to clarify what is expected from them and how they should proceed
(accordingly to their skills and capabilities) to achieve those expectations.
Patterns of users' behavior and needs will still appear and it’s important to take into
account possible cultural differences when designing user experiences. There aren't
that many products or interactive systems that are really used by "everybody".
Targeting "everybody" with an interactive system is not easy, nor cheap. User
requirement analysis can contribute to defining precise target audiences that are
more likely to use it.
An obvious requirement is to have usability testing with local practitioners, to ensure
that local user needs will be taken in to account. As it is transparent, the surveyed
best practices from the eParticipation projects analyzed in the second chapter cluster
around the local organizations and/or local government initiatives, implying that the
most relevant dimension for the development of e-Participation is the City dimension.
The findings of the comparative analysis allowed us to distinguish four different types
of ICT user groups.
They can be classified as follows:
1) Nonusers (high age - the majority in this group is 45 years and above, low
income and low education, low access to ICT)
2) Average users (the largest group of ICT users, use ICT not on a regular
basis, but now and then, low computer skills).
3) Instrumental users use (ICT for utility or for information acquisition, high
score on PC and Internet use in general, good ICT access, mostly males and
a higher education level)

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4) Entertainment users ICT entertainment use. high score on PC and Internet


use, low score on usage of e Government services, relatively young in age;
they have high variation in both education level and income, mostly males
5) Advanced users (using a wide range of different ICT technologies for a
number of different purposes, quite young (around 32 years old), high
variation in both education level and income. They are mostly males living in
urban districts.

Such knowledge will create a basis for the development of:


a. Target groups: In identifying the target groups for the specific eParticipation
through eMedia pilots
b. User requirements: Development of user needs and context of use for different
types of users that will be involved in the pilot deployment.

C. Remarks on the tools and means for user participation

Citizens now have many ways of informing themselves, of expressing opinions and
of organizing themselves in all sorts of ways, possibly leading to greater social
engagement and providing the basis for a ‘glocal’ (i.e. simultaneously both global and
local) civil society. Access is a first area where Information and Communication
Technology (ICT) comes into play: Internet and related applications can certainly
support the dissemination of reliable and up-to-date information on current issues.
In the Web 2.0 era, it is no longer appropriate to conceive users as ‘end-users’, as
they have moved into the heart of the value chain. They have become important
actors in virtually all aspects of online and offline services.
From the experience of past eParticipation projects we have inferred that when we
seek user involvement in e-participation activities, it is important to give people
access to many channels to choose from, depending on topic, situation and
personality. The authorities need to appreciate which tools to use in which contexts
and how to combine tools off and online to enable inclusive engagement.

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The technology should be introduced in a way that maximizes user inclusion as some
people will provide know-how, suggestions and advice, some will write motions,
some wants to debate and some wants to vote for stated alternatives.
There is a vast range of possible tools and methods that can be used to engage with
citizens. However, we had examples of local isolated exercises and, as yet, there is
no view of what a coherent, and sustainable international or transnational
participation environment should be like. More consideration needs to be placed on
when and how to use tools in order to enhance citizens engagement with a different
cultural background.

Developing usable and accessible technology is important but not enough to ensure
enhanced participation. Since the tool is dedicated to them it should be very
important to take into account their recommendation in order to prevent any
frustrations related to it. People will highly appreciate giving them opportunity to
participate in tools design processes. During the pilot phase users should be clearly
informed that what they are testing is not the final product but something that will be
improved thanks to their help.

If citizens can participate through social media that they already use (e.g. twitter,
facebook etc.) they will be more likely to use them for participation activities.

In this case, it is not the technology itself that is oriented to generate eParticipation,
but the kind of activities created with that technology and the way in which the data
produced through that technology are analyzed. The same applies to new eMedia
services that are conceived with a content creation purpose but can nevertheless be
used to extract participation data (citizen needs, comments, advices).

Moreover the integration with existing platforms can help giving the idea that we are
part of a sustainable community and that technologies used have at least the same
life expectancy as (e.g.) Facebook or Flickr. Nevertheless while choosing existing or
creating a new platform is definitely important to stress also on several points related
to:

• Brand- “the brand of the website (e.g. name, logo, look and feel) may
influence users’ decision to become involved.”

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• Content base - “A content base (be it textbooks, articles, statistics or


government documents) attract users to the website. “
• Quality of the content - “The cases show that users find it important that the
content published is of high quality".
• Privacy protection - “The survey showed that privacy protection is an
important issue for users.”

Digital and social divide are further constraints potentially hampering the success and
take-up of eParticipation initiatives. Citizens could be classified into “the unable
willing” or the “able unwilling”, in reference to the range of people that e-participation
initiatives might reach and the problems associated with it. The unable willing refers
to those who might want to participate but lack the resources and skills to engage. In
this context, e-participation initiatives need to avoid creating further barriers to
engagement among those communities that fall into this category and focus on a
cross-media approach enabling citizens to participate in the project via several
different channels. They may not have an internet access but they definitely have a
mobile phone. The able unwilling refers to those who have the resources and skills
but prefer to invest them elsewhere. In this context, e-participation initiatives need to
be built creatively to provide added reasons for engagement. As a consequence for
the system, design requirements are ‘easy to use’ and ‘simplicity’ of the system
interaction.

D. Communication to attract target users

A number of ad-hoc e-participation projects and successfully implemented


applications are not seeing much traffic or interaction because internet users are
simply not paying attention to them. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, the
application is intentionally or unintentionally badly promoted to the general public or
focus groups.

The communication on an eParticipation initiative is essential in its implementation


phase and must be carefully thought and design in order to attract as many users as
possible.

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The communication is also important before the implementation of the project since
there is a need to inform the users that a new eParticipation initiative has been
implemented. One of the possibilities to increase the awareness of the service is to
link its launch to the public events. The objective of this first communication between
the users and the project is to inform them about the subject of the debate, the
means to access to the new platform and that their involvement is essential to the
project “reason for being”.

To attract as many users as possible the communication has to be adapted to them


since the efficiency of the communication tools is not the same depending on the
users. A multi channel approach is also essential for a successful communication on
an eParticipation initiative. Reaching younger users is more easy and efficient via
online tools such as online advertising, websites or on the social media like Facebook
and Twitter. The use of social media to promote eParticipation initiative seems
“natural” as these tools have managed to multiply their audience in a short period of
time and very important-they are free. From the other hand reaching older users is
easier via “traditional means” such as publication in local newspaper or magazine as
this target is not as ICT-skilled as the young.
CN Newspaper Group are intending to develop several pilot hyper local sites since
local advertising is a major factor in the development of eParticipation initiatives.
Those sites can provide the latest local news, sport & events in an area, as well as
details of anything and everything that is happening. One example of hyperlocal sites
already developed is „Gazette Live in Teeside.
However there is a huge drawback as the users expect that the information are
always updated and animated if not they will abandon this channel and the
management of this require staff and consume time.
We find also necessary to acknowledge the word of the mouth communication while
implementing citizens oriented projects since buzz strategy enhanced and has
facilitated a success of wide range of e-initiatives. The social network communication
have the same objective but through a slightly different approach called the viral
marketing.

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It could be also considerably helpful to engage an external partner like NGOs or


business organizations in a dissemination processes since they reach wide range of
diversified public groups. The twin concepts of partnerships and networking are at
the centre of modern public services and are fundamental to the commissioning and
delivery of public services, developing and maintaining public infrastructure and
giving leadership to local communities. Bringing together public sector bodies,
businesses and third sector organisations, partnerships embrace co-production
between service users, commissioners and providers. Well organised and well co-
ordinated partnerships assume a shared vision as well as a willingness to share
resources and work together in a spirit of collaboration and co-operation.
To conclude, it seems that the best way to attract users implies a multi-media
approach that combines the strengths of the 'old' media – newspapers, radio,
television, telephones and libraries, with 'new' media –Internet, e-mail, electronic chat
rooms and forums, SMS and MMS.

E. Enhancement, Engagement, Support of the users

Once the project reached its target users it is extremely important to define what
motivates users to participate in it (tagging, sharing, creating commenting content).
As we said above participating still remains unnatural so if people make an effort to
do so is definitely with a strict purpose to have things done. After the study of the
existing project we can conclude that is primordial to acknowledge the participation
effort of the citizens and that project coordinators have to stress the importance of the
feedback on the policy makers and their interest to the inputs given by the citizens.
People must have impression that their engagement is meaningful and has an
influence and that the time they are spending on the participation is worth it. The
moderator role seems to be very important as the feedback is needed in order to
illustrate what is happening and what changes are being made as a result of input.
Moreover we realized that whenever an online forum or platform was used,
moderation was also a key issue concerning the quality of the debate and its
“abordability” for an average, non expert user. The moderator role is also to respond
to the users questions in order to facilitate and make their participation smoother.

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User engagement should be a continuous process based on the importance of the


issue discussed during the pilot execution phase. This will help maintain the already
registered users and engage more through the dissemination of the project’s results.
At the beginning of the pilot phase of the project it is normal to have a small number
of users, since they won’t engage in discussions immediately, but rather try to get
familiar to the tools provided by the project.

To support this process, empowering activities (inviting, learning and training) and
awareness meetings should be organized.
-­‐ For the citizen: how to gain access to information, to understand it, and
respond to it.
-­‐ For the civil servant: how to formulate and present information clearly, and
help citizens handle the information.
-­‐ For the politicians and administrators: how to use the interactive multi
media dialogue with citizens.

Sometimes the duration of the project and the timing of consultation proved to be a
major challenge, as witnessed by most project leaders that we questioned. Indeed, if
the participation process is too spread out all along the project, it is difficult to keep
interest alive and encouraging people to regularly come back to the website and
contribute. To the contrary consultation should be a continuous process with each
stage considered an episode in a continuous decision-making cycle.

Having as support the analysis in the second chapter, we can conclude that the
barriers to greater online citizen engagement are mostly cultural and organizational.
Overcoming these challenges will require greater efforts to raise awareness and
capacity both within governments and among citizens.
Building a „co-ordinated community website (CCW) would provide direction, hints
and tips to help build skills, help local developers identify and deal with problems and
find ways to extend and exploit strengths. If used to underpin training, such a toolkit
could help change entrenched culture and develop new understanding in relation to
community websites and their potential in supporting community empowerment. Key
principles

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1. Each local network must be „community owned’ and „built ‘by’ the community ‘for
the community. ‘

2. Each network must be run on a routine daily basis by local community member(s)..
Each of these developers must
a. know the area
b. know what is needed in the area
c. know about interests/activities organised by people in the area

3. Community Networks should be supported and sustained by co-ordinated


partnerships comprising all those with a stake in the local community.

4. A monitoring system should be set in place to ensure that no one individual or


group becomes more powerful or shouts louder than others.

F. Funding, Evaluation, Sustainability

Making effective use of ICT in the European eParticipation project is one of the
highest priorities. Developing eParticipation outcomes is about building a strong case
statement as the needs will vary depending on the project size, budget, capacity and
resources. Without a sufficiently strong case at the start, the ICT initiative will be
more prone to fail.
For the moment the majority of eParticipation projects use mainly EU funds or local
or national public funds. Besides those sources several projects, mostly business
oriented ones, are supported by privet funds. However funders are more likely to
support sustainable integration of ICT under certain circumstances. While developing
a project we should know that a good proposal is not enough if it is not clear what the
organization does, how it does it, and what the eParticipation project being
developed wants to accomplish and improve by using ICT tools and strategies.
Decisions about the use of ICT participative applications needs to be based on the
full range of benefits, as well as costs, in order to ensure that the time and money
privet or public funders spend are truly worth it and that the project will be effective
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and sustainable. The best way to know if an eParticipation initiative is worth pursuing
is to evaluate the ability to articulate what the citizens will gain if the project is
successfully implemented and what will be the benefits. That will definitely provide
better supporting evidence for a fundraising proposal. It is very important to estimate
what will be a true longtime cost of eParticipation project (financial and human
resources costs related to the ICT applications) in order to determine if project will
deliver a sufficient return to make it sustainable. There are several elements to be
taken into account will considering investments for the project , like software,
hardware and infrastructure, promotion and time which is a major budget cost from
training through ‘getting comfortable with the system’ and in building and maintaining
a relationship with users in order to broaden their engagement. In many – if not most
– situations, the cost of hardware and software runs at below 30 per cent of the total
costs associated with preparing, launching and sustaining an ICT initiative. We could
learn from the projects we have analyzed that the simplest way to assess the
success of an eParticipation initiative is to focus on indicators which allows project
monitoring and evaluation. In reality for the moment such indicators are or very few or
they do not exist which makes it extremely complicated to manage the project that
are not measurable and not able to collect data.
Except EU, administrations and privet investors there are number of trust and grant
funders who look favorably on ICT applications but criteria and programs change
constantly so it is very important to check with the founder if the information you have
are still current. Some of the institutions who help developing eParticipation projects
are:
• Awards for All can fund projects that enable people to take part in and access
community activities, as well as projects that promote education, the
environment and health in the local community. As the funding criteria and
application process varies according to the country, see
www.awardsforall.org.uk for more information.
• BT Community Connections (BTCC) is a UK nationwide award scheme that
aims to connect local community and voluntary groups to the internet. For
more information, application form and criteria see the BTCC website -
www.btcommunityconnections.com

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eParticipation evaluation
Goals

Impact  
Input: process Tools
Economical,  
political,social  

Output:actions, services,policies, decisions

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V. Conclusion

There are no ready-made transferable solutions or one-size fits all platform or


methodology.

The starting point while developing an efficient eParticipation through eMedia project
is to understand social cognitive aspects of that kind of initiatives, i.e the
characteristics of the users of such systems and their motivations. In a cross border
context this approach seems to be even more complex as it is necessary to take into
account the cultural differences and related to them intentions that drive users to
actively engage or to not engage to the project. An ideal project should be able to
smoothly traverse social, geographical and bureaucratic related barriers with specific
cultural adaptations. Moreover an uniform implementation of any kind of
eParticipation project seems to be complicated considering differences in media
structure and internet delivery in a different European countries.

The second priority of the project should be an evident demonstration of its


usefulness, viability and its impact on a subject it is relating to. The moderators of
such systems need to understand the importance of the users self-efficacy estimation
for the project success.

As clarified in the study it is important to adapt a form to the eParticipation domain


and subject. Since the ambition of the APOLLON project is to use a cross media
device it is essential to not become a prisoner of a sophisticated technology or the so
popular Web 2.0 tools. A digital media like e-radio, e-television or e-papers are
definitely complementary, on the informative level, to the digital form of active
participation like, among others, e-petitions or e-pooling. A cross device approach
seems to be an ideal solution for democratic participatory inclusion and could be an
excellent alternative to bring to the project all social groups who doesn’t seem to be
comfortable with social networks or others web 2.0 tools. A cross-media strategy
generates a good liaison between project purpose and its public as it is from one

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hand extremely inclusive and from the other “for them tailored”. As today users focus
strongly on efficiency and time saving, the personalization ability of this approach fits
exactly with their expectations.

The huge challenge of a cross-border eParticipation project is to overcome cultural


barriers and to establish a cross-cultural communication while respecting the legal
local environment. Moreover a digital media have a possibility to overcome
constraints related to the lingual and cultural misunderstanding by supporting the text
or interview with an image which has often a transnational character.

However what is primordial for the project it is not only its information availability but
also awareness of the service existence and its find-ability. The survey made by the
Napier university report that 49% and 44% of surveyed population give as a main
reason for non us of such systems consequently the lack of awareness of service
existence and a non ability to find the information or services. Accordingly the
suppliers of eParticipation platforms sure ensure that their services are well tagged
on the different internet search platforms but also a step further they should use the
off-line media as they are very likely to reach wide public and by this mean inform
and encourage people to interact in an online project. Offline and online methods
need to be combined especially with respect to communication and marketing of the
project.

The last but not the least- a merge with other technologies such video, audio and
mobile phones or visualization technologies such as GIS, Virtual Reality and 3D
environments as well as the use of existing well known tools is definitely beneficial for
the, so important, project cost and sustainability and enable people to “snowball” their
skills to others in the community.

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