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Evaluating EDEN's Impact on Participation in Local e-Government

The EDEN project is funded through the European Commission's Fifth Framework Programme under the thematic programme 'Systems and Services for the Citizen' which includes R&D projects aimed at e-democracy. The overarching objective of the EDEN project is to stimulate and support citizens' participation in the decision-making process. Urban planning was selected as a test case, since in Europe it has a longer history of citizen participation than most areas of public administration, with widespread adoption of statutes that formalise(SP?) when it should be undertaken. EDEN integrates a set of Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools into urban planning web-based services, aiming to enhance the accessibility and comprehension of online planning information by citizens and planning professionals, and their acceptance of online consultation procedures. The paper describes the evaluation framework developed in collaboration with public administrations in Antwerp, Bologna, Bremen and Vienna. We describe issues in developing relevant methods and measures of participation, and outline early results from the ongoing evaluation. We discuss the applicability of the OECD's framework for engaging citizens in policy-making, which sees effective information provision as a pre-requisite for effective consultation models, which are in turn the basis for e-participation tools based on partnership between citizens and administrations.