Social networking technology provides major new opportunities for policy makers (eGovernment) to engage with the community (eSociety). WeGov developed a toolset so that 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 make it possible to detect, track and mine opinions and discussions on policy oriented topics including their origins, bias and evolution. The tools allow discussions to be seeded and stimulated through injection of policy discussion points into relevant communities. Pseudo-anonymisation, audit trails, and access control safeguard against misuse and ensure privacy for all involved.
WeGov delivered 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. Theer were three live field trials (diversity of opinion on public health, public spending in an era of financial uncertainty, and public policy research in the social sciences) conducted by three end-user partners.
The trial results were 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 have been 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.
WeGov has received EC research funding.