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.”
“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
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
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
Cloud technology: Dynamic certificates make cloud service providers more secure
15.01.2018 | Technische Universität München
New discovery could improve brain-like memory and computing
10.01.2018 | University of Minnesota
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...
Scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München have discovered a mechanism that amplifies the autoimmune reaction in an early stage of pancreatic islet autoimmunity prior to the progression to clinical type 1 diabetes. If the researchers blocked the corresponding molecules, the immune system was significantly less active. The study was conducted under the auspices of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) and was published in the journal ‘Science Translational Medicine’.
Type 1 diabetes is the most common metabolic disease in childhood and adolescence. In this disease, the body's own immune system attacks and destroys the...
15.01.2018 | Event News
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
15.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
15.01.2018 | Life Sciences
15.01.2018 | Life Sciences