E-government is the ‘in’ thing and a growing number of public services can now be delivered online. A major challenge faced, however, is how to get citizens more involved in public life and encourage greater interaction between the public sector and the man in the street.
Three city authorities – Dublin, Helsinki and Barcelona – decided to get together to develop a new tool aimed primarily at improving citizen involvement in civic affairs and increasing the responsiveness of local services.
“All three cities already had special projects underway aimed at ‘e-enabling’ certain parts of the city and were working closely with local universities to achieve this aim,” says John Donovan, the project coordinator. “[But] we decided to join forces, along with a number of private companies, to develop a set of tools aimed specifically at facilitating citizen communication.”
Giving citizens a voice
The EU-funded ICiNG project was the result. Its platform and a range of services were launched at a conference of European City Administrations held in Barcelona, Spain, in June 2008.
“These are citizen-based tools, designed by citizens and for citizens, but that can also be accessed by city authorities in order to improve their services,” Donovan tells ICT Results after the launch.
The consortium behind the project set out to research new concepts of e-government based on a multi-modal, multi-access approach a so-called “thin-skinned city” – one that is sensitive to the needs of its citizens and to the local environment.
One of the first steps was to approach local community groups to determine real needs and preferred means of communication. The ICiNG platform provides more opportunities for citizens to influence the decision-making process and develop a shared understanding of city issues. It should also contribute to community building in city environments and go some way towards reducing the ‘democratic deficit’.
Easy integration and multi-modal access
Access to the ICiING tools is enabled through multiple devices (home computer, portable hand-held devices or mobile phones, environmental sensors) and at different levels. The intelligent infrastructure developed makes it possible to have both a public administration services layer and a ‘Communities’ layer.
One of the main components of the platform is the Urban Mediator software which enables communities to mediate local, location-based discussions, activities and information. UM uses interactive maps to represent local information and provides a set of tools for users to process, share and organise this information.
City administrations interested in using ICiNG’s tools benefit from an “invisible” communications platform which can be easily integrated within the existing information and communication structure.
“One of the concerns for administrations is that they do not want to dismantle their existing communications infrastructure. [Our] platform can be simply ‘wrapped around’ the existing structure to provide an extra service layer. This limits the costs involved in implementing it,” points out Donovan.
The consortium has also published what it calls its ‘ICiNG Cook Book’, a recipe for becoming an ICiNG city, which explains in detail how the platform works and what advantages cities can gain from implementing it.
Building the ‘sensitive’ city
Thanks to the collection of important feedback from citizens, ICiING hopes to contribute to the development of the ‘sensitive’ city, where response to citizen needs is improved and citizen input into local projects is efficiently integrated into final plans. Pilot projects are being implemented in the three participating cities in various areas.
In Barcelona, a combination of blue-tooth environmental sensors and citizen feedback are being used to monitor the traffic flow in a specific area of the city in order to gather information for a new traffic flow plan.
In Dublin, citizens are being asked to participate in the city’s accessibility audit, aimed at identifying areas where access may be difficult for handicapped or disabled persons. Using the ICiING platform, citizens can take photos of problem spots with their mobile phones and send them in to the city authorities with a comment. The platform can then organise the information received on the map interface, making it easy for city planners to access.
Similarly, the platform is being used to deliver improved citizen services. It will, for example, enable residents to report bins that need collecting. Residents need simply take a photo of the special plaque on the bin in question and send it (or simply the code) in to the city authorities. The platform will automatically locate the exact position of the bin and someone will be sent to deal with the request.
The potential application areas are very wide and the ICiING platform is expected to attract the attention of many other European cities keen to improve citizen participation.
ICiNG was funded by the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for research.
Christian Nielsen | alfa
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
AI implications: Engineer's model lays groundwork for machine-learning device
18.08.2017 | Washington University in St. Louis
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences