OP@LL Conference (III): Case studies II

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #171, December 2017


Notes from the OP@LL Conference: Online participation on the local level – a comparative perspective, organized by Düsseldorf Institute for Internet and Democracy and held in Dússeldorf, Germany, on 13-15 December 2017. More notes on this event: opll.

Case studies II

Jonathan Mellon | University of Oxford / World Bank
Digital Citizen Engagement by the World Bank

Abstract: Citizens are increasingly being offered the opportunity to participate in their government online. But who participates when digital participation is offered and who benefits from the outcomes of the process? We argue that the design of the platform constitutes a political institution which structures the way in which citizen inputs translate into policy outputs. We analyze three examples of digital citizen participation which offer different ways for citizens to interact with their local governments. First, we analyze participatory budgeting in both Brazilian municipalities and Paris both of which offer an online and offline component. We find that while the online process brings in a younger and more economically advantaged electorate, the policy outcomes do not seem to change compared with offline voting. This may be because the proposal selection tends to limit the extent to which different options differentially benefit groups in society. Second, we analyze the Fix My Street platform in the United Kingdom, which allows citizens to report local problems such as potholes. We find that the platform overrepresents economically advantaged and older citizens. These input inequalities map directly onto output inequalities as local governments largely deal with the reports without attempting to account for the input inequalities. Finally, we consider the change.org platform, which has been used to pressure decision makers at all levels. We find that the inequalities in terms of petition creation do not translate into inequalities in the outcomes because the signers largely hold the power in the system. Additionally, we find petitions targeted at local actors are more successful, probably because of the lower level of mobilization required to effect change and the greater likelihood that a single decision maker will have sole power to make the requested change.

Unequal participant profiles imply unequal demands and thus unequal impact on citizens.

Three case studies: participatory budgeting in Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), Fix my Street (UK) and Change.org (UK).

Participatory budgetig in Rio Grande do Sul

People that use more the Internet participate more online. But there is not much difference between what people vote online or what they vote offline. Is it because the topics are transversal? Or too difficult and people vote randomly?

Fix My Street

Users are mainly male white men, educated, proficient online. Positive relationship with number of young people, no ethnical divide.

Government mainly replicates unequal demands, as they are responsive to who reports, and who reports is biased by socio-economic status.


Petitions are more successful at the local level, even if they get much less signatures supporting it.

57.3% of users are female, but only 44% of petitions are created by women. But female created petitions succeed at higher rates than male, up to 1.4 times the chance to succeed vs. male created petitions. Women mobilize more signatures than men, almost double in mean. Reason: the topics of interest are different between women and men. When women create a petition, it is more likely that it is of the interest of other women, as and because they are majority in the platform, they are more likely to support it and make it successful.

Julia Drozdova | Volgograd Academy of Public Administration (Russia)
E-government potential in management of migration risks.

Abstract: Migration risks are an inevitable consequence of current social processes in Russia (uneven economic development, armed conflicts, and social transformations); these risks are constantly reproduced in conditions of social instability and inequality. The author considers migration risks as a measure of uncertainty and possible positive / negative after-effects that occur due to migration and are affected by the quality of their management and the technologies employed including information and communication technology that ensure accumulation of information, analytical effort and planning, organization of interaction between the population and the authorities. E-government is a necessary form of organizing the activity of government bodies including those regulating the migration processes. Its purpose is to provide, by means of information technologies, a new qualitative level of efficiency and convenience in retrieving information by the stakeholders of migration processes (the receiving and arriving population), to enhance the quality and accessibility of state services, to facilitate the procedure and to reduce the expectation period (obtaining international passports, residence permits, work permits, paying state duties, etc.), which can provide equal access to these resources, a uniform standard of service irrespective of the applicant status, and can clear administrative hurdles. The author working within the framework of RFFI 16-13-34011 grant Migration Risks in a Multiethnic Region: sociological and managerial analysis developed a pattern for organizing a management of migration risks which can be only implemented under an e-government. Considering the specifics of running migration processes, the structure of its organization is a multistage process including five steps: defining the goal, risk identification, data acquisition, counseling, monitoring and controlling the implementation of adaptation and integration programs that minimize the migration risks and imply electronic participation, a higher order of government / society interaction under e-government. In the author’s opinion, e-government should underlie the management of social risks since it has the required resources and opportunities. Identification of migration risks, establishing a feedback with the population, electronic participation of citizens in the development of practical guidelines on the management and minimization of the risks is an important issue within the framework of ensuring all-nation and regional security, creating a uniform social medium in the multiethnic space of Russian regions and the world.

How can one manage migration risks (for the migrant, for the hosting community, etc.) with the help of e-government and online participation?

e-Government should be able to enhance the interaction between people and the government.

Citizens value differently the several categories of government information. Some categories are found to be very closed in delivering information, which can lead to uneven treatment of different citizens.

Open information is needed to determine the migration risk management plan: goal, design, monitoring, etc. Social media can be a valuable source of information, but the data harvested should be used accordingly to data protection principles.

43% visiting population never visit the official website for migrants, 40% of them do it 1-2 times a month.

Half of the people use the official website to access open data while the other half do a poor use of the website.

General problems with online participation at the local level: digital inequality, unequal access to information on government activities, inadequate educational outreach activity, different approach to the issues of e-government development, mentality of public employees and people.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2017) “OP@LL Conference (III): Case studies II” In ICTlogy, #171, December 2017. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4587

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