XI Congreso de la AECPA (I). Digital inclusion and Internet governance for an open government

Notes from the XI Congreso de la AECPA. La política en tiempos de incertidumbre, organized by the Asociación Española de Ciencia Política y de la Administración (AECPA), in Seville, Spain, the 18-20 September 2013. More notes on this event: 11aecpa.

Digital inclusion and Internet governance for an open government

The development of open government initiatives in a number of countries around the world has highlighted the need to establish the means by which all people without exception can benefit from the potential of these initiatives. The risk of a permanent digital divide whereby a portion of the population may remain marginalized from access to the Information Technology and Communication (ICT) has raised concerns (Geneva and Tunis in 2003 and 2005 respectively), and obviously as the open government relies on the use of ICT, it should be developed in a context in which to ensure equal opportunities in access to the entire population. More broadly, the open government expresses a new model of interaction between government and citizens (new citizenship status).Digital citizenship and e-inclusion strategies are therefore inseparable aspects of the development of open government, not only because this is strictly instrumental (open data), from the inside out, from e-government or e-government, but moreover, as the open government requires promote citizen participation in the design and implementation of policies and the provision of public services by opening processes (open process) and the use of social networks and platforms for citizen participation (Ramirez-Alujas, 2012: 20), favoring the open action to improve regulatory proposals submitted by public authorities (Campos and Silvan, 2012: 70).

Digital Citizenship: for every age? Digital inclusion strategies and use of ICTs in different age segments in elderly people in Spain.
Eva Alfama Guillén, Jorge Luís Salcedo Maldonado

To what extent policies addressed to elderly people have an ICT component?

  • They provide infrastructure.
  • They foster digital literacy and development of digital skills.
  • Use ICTs to promote wellbeing and participation of elderly people.

Data from 8 municipalities in Spain.

  • Need of public policies for e-inclusion for the elderly people more positive, comprehensive and participatory, which promote active aging and the strengthening of autonomy and empowerment.
  • Key role of ICTs, that can foster autonomy and empowerment of elderly people of make them more vulnerable before digital exclusion.

Users are tech savvy when it comes to mobile telephony, but not about being online.
Intervention levels:

  • Participation: low.
  • Social promotion: medium.
  • Community action: punctual.
  • Social services on primary health care: punctual.

Policy makers promote the use of ICTs to connect different generations.
Important focus on tele-assistance.
Fields of intervention with elderly people and ICTs:

  • Digital literacy
  • Empowerment , autonomy, tele-assistance.

Elderly people do not identify themselves as elderly people: want to be considered as active and participative citizens.

  • Digital inclusion for elderly people very marginal.
  • Though these policies address very hot issues.
  • Need for more commitment and resources.

An open and transparent government in Spanish municipalities: the case of Quart de Poblet.
Joaquín Martín Cubas, Juan Medina Cobo.

The IRIA report provides evidence that the degree of implementation of ICTs in Spanish municipalities is quite good, both in terms of infrastructure and public services. But the Orange report states that even if infrastructures and services are OK, uptake is not, mainly because of matters of accessibility and usability.

Quart is a small municipality in the province of Valencia. It has a long tradition of participation.

The DIEGO (Digital Inclusive e-Government) project (with funding from the European Commission) was used to create a platform – QuarTIC – through which citizens (especially elderly people) can access e-government services.

The SEED platform aims at improving accessibility and usability of public e-services.

It is worth noting that the municipality needs not develop a lot of technology or infrastructures: citizens are already online at social networking sites. The municipality should be able to be where the citizens are, and engage in a conversation with them.

Now the local government Is adapting the IREKIA (Basque Government’s) open source open government platform to develop their own open government strategy. This strategy, as it has been said before, aims not at substituting but complementing the strategy addressed to being on different social networking sites besides the citizens.

The application of ICTs in the field of Health Care: the case of Spain and Cuba
Luca Chao Pérez, Andrés Cernadas Ramos.

  • What is the impact of the Internet on the health system?
  • In what applications does it materialize?
  • What factors are fostering the change?
  • What strategic lines and public programmes are being profiled?
  • What should be the role of R+D in Health?

In the field of e-Health, the Internet has meant:

  • The democratization of information. But, what quality of information?
  • But a lack of communication, lack of interaction.

In Cuba this is a little bit different in relationship with Spain. The INFOMED network puts in contact professionals that work in remote areas, sharing information, interacting among themselves… and also providing e-Health services to their patients.

That is, in Cuba, the application of ICTs in Cuba has been centered in the professional, while in Spain and most Europe the model is more citizen-centered, aiming at empowering the e-patient so that they can manage their own health.

  • Are we heading towards a new model of patient: the e-patient?
  • Will more information and more empowerment change the kind of health interventions?
  • Are we assessing e-Health initiatives to be able to tell the impact of the policies? The cost-benefit analysis?


XI Congreso de la AECPA (2013)

7th Internet, Law and Politics Congress (XI). e-Government and e-Democracy

Notes from the 7th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: Net Neutrality and other challenges for the future of the Internet, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 11-12 July 2011. More notes on this event: idp2011.

Track on e-government and e-democracy
Chairs: Ismael Peña-López, Lecturer, School of Law and Political Science (UOC)

Lorenzo Cotino Hueso
The European electronic citizen initiative

The new European normative makes it possible that with the addition of 1,000,000 signatures, the political debate on a certain topic can be initiated in the European Parliament. And one of the good things about this new normative is that it has been designed for the XXIst century, as online participation (i.e. signing) is considered in equal terms as offline participation.

The procedure is the usual one, where an initiative is registered and then signatures are collected within the member states. Once the European Commission validates the firms (the person signing is a European citizen, has not signed more than one time, etc.), then a new legislative process can begin.

Another asset is that the European Commission must provide free software platforms for the collection of signatures in any website. These platforms will work with digital signature, whatever its kind: certificates, tokens, smartphones, etc.

The initiative can be started at any member state and, once the platform is validated, the process of gathering support can begin.

The regulation is written as if it was about data protection, as that is the major issue when providing a (electronic) vote supplying personal data, but the regulation to be applied will be the one of any member state.

Daniel Guagnin; Carla Ilten
Self-Governed Socio-technical Infrastructures. Autonomy and Cooperation through Free Software and Community Wireless Networks

Net Neutrality is the freedom to use a communication infrastructure in all possible ways without constrains. And free software is a matter of liberty, not price, it is about free as in free speech (not as in free beer).

Technology is society made durable: social “programmes” are inscribed in any technology. In expert systems rules are disembedded from the realm of use, and defined by experts. Free software opens up the experitse to laypeople, why proprietary software stays opaque.

Copyleft is a general method for making a program or other work freely available and with the compulsory condition that any other work based on it will also be available in the same way.

Community Wireless Networks are based on free software and DIY hardware. They use wireless peer-to-peer mesh network architecture and have collectively organized and owned communication infrastructures.

An example can be the Chicago Wireless Community Networks [in Spain we have the very interesting initiative Guifi.net.]. Chicago Wireless Community Networks is a non-profit project to serve disadvantaged neighborhoods, in cooperation with CUWIN open source programmers. It’s community building through network set-up and maintenance. The Pico Peering Agreement acts as a constitution for peer networking.

That is certainly a new approach to Net Neutrality, as Net Neutrality is, all in all, a battle about the control over infrastructures.

Mayo Fuster Morell
An introductory historical contextualization of online creation communities for the building of digital commons: The emergence of a free culture movement

Online creation communities (OCCs) are a set of individuals that communicate and collaborate mainly via a platform hosted on the Internet with the purpose to create a final outcome of the joint work.

These communities are deeply rooted in the movements of the 1950s like hacking culture, hippies contraculture, action-participation methodologies and popular education, etc.

If the free software projects imply the appearance of OCCs, there is a shift from free software to free culture with the change of millennium with movements like the Creative Commons, the Wikipedia, alternative news media (e.g. Indymedia), peer-to-peer file sharing, open access of scientific research, etc. The explosion of the web 2.0 is greatly powered and fostering at the same time the concept of OCCs.

Infrasctructure conditions:

  • Level of freedom and autonomy of the content generators in regard to the infrastructure.
  • Level representation of the interests of the community of creators in the infrastructure provision decision-making and provision transparency.

Two main types:

  • Autonomy + open = commons logic; they reinforce more collaborative communities.
  • Close + dependency = corporate logic. Tend to generate larger communities.

The free culture and digital rights movement has 4 main goals: preserve the digital commons, to make important information available to the public, promote creators, remove barriers to distribution of knowledge and goods.

Lately, the movement has been shifting from free culture to meta-politics. This can be seen in the Change Congress initiative in the US (2008) or the #nolesvotes and #15M movements in Spain.

Georgia Foteinou
Institutional Trust and e-Government Adoption in the EU: a Cross-National Analysis

Why citizens that are used to e-commerce appear sceptic when it comes to using e-government websites? Normally, it is attributed to the poor quality of services, few available services, insufficient infrastructure… but evidence shows that is none of the above, at least not as a strong determinant not to be using those services. In fact, e-government usage is higher than e-commerce in most European countries, even if it has a decline of -4.5% (of all Internet users) over the period 2005-2010. On the other hand, in aggregate, e-government is growing at 30% (accesses) while e-commerce is growing at 75%.

It seems that the digitally reluctant could not be trusting the government, but not of a specific agent, but in government as a whole. This is what data seem to be telling at statistically significant levels.

Jorge Luis Salcedo
Conflicts about the regulation of intellectual property in Internet: comparing the issue networks in UK and Spain

In the issue of the conflicts about the regulation of intellectual property, how is media visibility distributed between the stakeholders in this conflict? What actors have more visibility? This is crucially relevant in mass-mediated democracies.

A first hypothesis is that the regulation supporters (Copyrights coalition and governments) will achieve a greater visibility level on the news channel.

A second hypothesis is that the Digital Rights Activists (DRA) will have a higher visibility on non traditional media (blogs, websites) than the CRC.

3r hypothesis: DRA will have a higher visibility in specific web channels, but not on the entire web.

4th hypothesis: The most visible agents on the news channels are going to get the most visibility as a whole, especially in search engines.

It is very interesting to see how in Spain, DRA have huge coverage in online platforms, in the UK they are even with CRC and both of them having less visibility than the government’s official position. In search engines, though, both UK and Spanish DRA seem to be having the same impact.

The differences may come from different resources from the different stakeholders, a more lax regulation in the UK in downloading matters, the worst reputation that the coalition has in Spain in comparison to the UK’s, including the dynamics of politics in the different countries.


7th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2011)