Social networking technology provides major new opportunities for policy makers (eGovernment) to engage with the community (eSociety). WeGov will develop a toolset so full advantage can be taken of well-established social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, WordPress, etc) when engaging citizens in two-way dialogs as part of governance and policy-making processes. The tools will make it possible to detect, track and mine opinions and discussions on policy oriented topics including their origins, bias and evolution. The tools will allow discussions to be seeded and stimulated through injection of policy discussion points into relevant communities. Pseudo-anonymisation, audit trails, and access control will safeguard against misuse and ensure privacy for all involved.
WeGov will be delivered as fully implemented software components packaged in a government toolbox broadly applicable to the interaction between eGovernment and the eSociety, including deployment on cloud infrastructure to dramatically lower the cost of operation. Success will be measured through three live field trials conducted by three end-user partners.
The trial results will be combined into a methodology, including a legal and ethical analysis and review by a confirmed external project Advisory Board of eGovernment stakeholders. The methodology, toolbox, and exemplar use cases will be published through a combination of open source, public reports and open workshops. Together with an exploitation strategy targeted at widespread take-up and use, long-term sustainability of the project results is assured. Policy makers will be freed from the inherent limitations of bespoke and dedicated platforms (e.g. government websites), and instead engage directly with citizens in their native online social environments to close the loop with this audience.
The Hansard Society's Digital Democracy Programme will develop real world end-user scenarios for the implementation and use of the government toolbox, contributing to the development and quality of online engagement initiatives. The Hansard Society will also work to disseminate the WeGov project's outputs.