Article. Impact of information and communication technologies in agroecological cooperativism in Catalonia

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #186, March 2019

 

Article cover of Impact of information and communication technologies in agroecological cooperativism in Catalonia

Impact of information and communication technologies in agroecological cooperativism in Catalonia

In June 2016 four friends gathered around a table. Ricard was working on his PhD thesis, which I supervised, and summoned the help of a data expert, Toni, and someone knowledgeable on analysing networks of people, Oriol — later on Núria Vega would join the team to improve the whole project and, specifically, bring brains and muscle to the field work.

At that time we believed that ICTs were having an impact on agriculture and people working in agroecology and cooperatives. But we suspected that there was something else. In Catalonia, cooperatives were changing the shape of the agriculture sector in the XIX century. After a long hiatus during the Spanish dictatorship (1939-1978), the agriculture cooperative sector (with quite republican ideas attached) kept on being dormant… until the breakout of the World Wide Web in the mid 1990s.

That was more than a coincidence to us, so we decided to analyze it — it was Ricard’s idea: the rest just followed. But soon we saw that there seemed to be much more than just a rebirth of cooperatives: what was being deployed before our eyes was something new. Beyond using ICTs to improve management and/or make sustainable non-mainstream models that can barely compete with the big behemoths of the food industry, what we saw whas that ICTs seem to be configuring a brand new ecosystem of food production and consumption, including new ways to understand food as a public infrastructure.

Almost three years after comes this article of us, with these reflections formerly put and rigorously analyzed. The result is Impact of information and communication technologies in agroecological cooperativism in Catalonia, just published at Agricultural Economics (AGRICECON).

While we waited for the paper to be published, Oriol left us forever. As we stated in the paper, Oriol, it was fun working with you while you were among us. Now you are gone, but the good work remains. So long, friend. Ricard, Ismael, Núria and Toni.

Article abstract and download

In Catalonia, agroecological cooperativism is part of a set of alternatives that appeared as a response to the current hegemonic food consumption model, controlled by large commercial establishments. It is defined by its promotion of short food supply chains (SFSCs), operates under the values of the social and solidarity economy (SSE) and holds a strong political commitment. This article, on the one hand, studies the setup of agroecological cooperativism understood as the outcome of a network of producers, intermediaries and consumers and, on the other hand, examines the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the development of this consumption model. The data has been obtained through on-site interviews and online research on the 56 consumer groups and cooperatives present in Barcelona. Descriptive statistics and correlation analysis have been used to study them. The results prove the salient role that ICT has as a facilitator in the relational network established between the agents that take part in it, thus becoming a key characteristic element of the new agroecological consumer cooperativism.

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Full article:
Espelt Rodrigo, R., Peña-López, I., Miralbell Izard, O., Martín, T. & Vega Rodríguez, N. (2019). “Impact of information and communication technologies in agroecological cooperativism in Catalonia”. In Agricultural Economics, 65 (2), 59-66. Praga: Czech Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Elections in Estonia and the current parliamentary elections (II)

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #186, March 2019

 

Notes from the seminarElections in Estonia and the current parliamentary elections: presentations by election administrators and experts, organized by the Government of Estonia and held in Tallinn, Estonia, on 2 March 2019.More notes on this event: valimised2019

Mihkel Solvak, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies
i-Voting and reliability

(note: we are using i-voting for Internet voting, and not e-voting as electronic voting also covers on-site electronic voting with e-voting polling machines)

Share of people who trusts i-voting has ranged from 53 to 77% since 2005 and now seems steady at 70%.

Surprisingly, people that trust less i-voting do not vote less electronically than those who do — although those who trust i-voting are much more likely to use it than those who don’t.

But the distribution of trust on i-voting is not a normal one: a majority totally trust the system, a minority totally distrusts it, and the rest are distributed evenly in between.

What we also see is that trust increases along time, and more people are thus shifting to i-voting. But even people that only vote on paper see their trust increased. There are two reasons for that: a precondition (one was also convinced about trust and that is why one shifted to i-voting) and a usage effect (after having switched to i-voting and having had a good experience, this increased one’s trust on i-voting). Trust is mostly a precondition, user experience adds very little. People with high pre-existing trust self-select into i-voting.

Higher rates of trust make the system more resilient, especially to reputation attacks. But we also need criticism to improve the system or not to forget about cyber-security.

It is worth noting that trust in i-voting positively correlates with trust in paper voting and trust in institutions in general. And there does not seem to be a negative correlation with higher levels of digital literacy (the hypothesis being that the more you know computers, the less you trust them).

People that shift to i-voting usually never shift back. But for those who do not vote, they can shift to paper voting and back to non voting.

Martin Möller, Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies
Landscape of political parties in Estonia: past and present

We witness an increasing stability in the Estonia political arena. But not only in terms of how many parties, or whether there are new parties entering the arena, but also between the manifestos of the different parties. Parties are becoming more similar between them.

Of course there are some differences in the left-right dimension and the liberal-conservative dimension.

Future of (Estonian) elections

Speakers: Priit Vinkel, Liisa Past, Robert Krimmer, Mihkel Solvak, Martin Möller.

Although society is moving towards a paper-less world, paper voting probably will not disappear. But, as new technologies appear, it is probable that new channels (including new electronic channels) will appear and will be used for voting.

Liisa Past: we have to move from a technocratic debate on voting to a democratic debate, to a debate about rights. This includes mobility, convenience.

Liisa Past: we have to confront supply chain management of elections. This is were the risks are, and this is beyond technology. What is more scary: a single firm controlling the whole process as a black box, or the Estate providing all technology and everything?

Elections in Estonia and the current parliamentary elections (2019)

Elections in Estonia and the current parliamentary elections (I)

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #-24045,

 

Notes from the seminarElections in Estonia and the current parliamentary elections: presentations by election administrators and experts, organized by the Government of Estonia and held in Tallinn, Estonia, on 2 March 2019.More notes on this event: valimised2019

Priit Vinkel, head of the State Electoral Office
Estonia also votes with paper ballots

Voting with paper is about tradition, ceremony, ritual. People love going to polling stations.

It is possible to vote multiple times online, but only the last vote will be valid.

1099 candidates, 10 party lists, 15 independent candidates, 880,000 voters in Estonia and 77,000 abroad, 441 polling stations.

253 people voted by mail, 1776 at an embassy, 247,232 by e-voting. e-Voting has been increasing all over the years and more women are voting now.

Voting from home on election day (paper) does not cease to decrease, now ranging 6,000 voters.

Discussion

Only 5.3 people verified their electronic vote.

Some people vote more than once online (only the last vote counts) and only a very few people would finally vote on paper after having voted online.

Liisa Past, McCain Institute
Current state of health of cybersecurity in Estonia and elsewhere

You introduce technology very carefully.

Security is never achieved. 100% security is not possible, but not only at the digital sphere.

“Elections are general, uniform and direct. Voting is secret” (Constitutions of the Republic of Estonia, 60)

An advantage of e-voting in Estonia is the electronic ID system provided by the Government.

Comprehensive risk management:

  • Voting
  • Election technology.
  • Auxiliary systems, facilitators and vendors.
  • Integrated information operations.

Compendium on Cyber Security of Election Technology (PDF).

Way forward:

  • Risk management.
  • International cooperation. Operational information exchange and exercises.
  • Cross-agency cooperation.
  • Last mile in the EU context.

e-Voting is not a technical question, but a political and organizational one.

Robert Krimmer, Tallinn University of Technology
Cost of voting technologies

Main source of the research: Krimmer, R., Dueñas-Cid, D., Krivonosova, I., Vinkel, P. & Koitmae, P. (2018). “How Much Does an e-Vote Cost? Cost Comparison per Vote in Multichannel Elections in Estonia”. In Krimmer et al. (Eds.), Electronic Voting, 117-131. Third International Joint Conference, E-Vote-ID 2018, Bregenz, Austria, October 2-5, 2018, Proceedings. Cham: Springer.

There is a general tendency of declining turnouts around the globe, contested by the implementation of new voting channels to make voting more easy or convenient for the voter.

Cost calculation is a most complex problem: shared resources, infraestructures that can be reused, resources that do not compute as a cost (e.g. volunteers), etc.

Voting Channel Cost per ballot (in Euro)
Early Voting in country centres 6.24
Advance Voting in country centres 5.07
Election Day Voting in country centres 4.61
Advance Voting in VDC 20.41
Election Day Voting in VDC 4.37
I-Voting 2.32

Electronic voting is, by far, the most cost-effective (cost per voter) of all channels.

Elections in Estonia and the current parliamentary elections (2019)

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