Completed projects: summaries
Computer Supported Argument Visualisation
Completed: Project ran from September 2005 to April 2006
CSAV is used successfully to address complex problems in commercial and academic domains. It uses a combination of icons and arrows to create a visual representation, or ‘map’, of a passage of text or spoken discussion, thereby providing the user with a clear overview of the main issues; hyperlinks are deployed within the map to provide access to additional information.
ITC are investigating whether such techniques can be adapted for use within a political context. By making the arguments that shape political issues easier to appreciate, it is hoped that the public will be encouraged to participate more actively in policy creation. ITC have been involved with writing a report on Argumentation Support Systems for the DEMO_net network of excellence project (D5.2.2: Argumentation Support Systems for eParticipation, Gordon, Macintosh & Renton, 2006), as well as organising and reporting on a DEMO_net eParticipation workshop for Argumentation Support Systems, which attracted fifteen speakers representing a broad range of argumentation techniques for eParticipation. The full set of presentations can be found on
Continuing the Dialogue on Radioactive Waste Management : Engaging Young Scotland Innovatively
Completed: Project ran from February 2004 to July 2004
The ITC was funded by the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD) to research appropriate tools and techniques to engage young people in their continuing dialogue on radioactive waste management. Interviews and a literature review informed the research which also involved three focus groups of young people from across Scotland. They assessed a range of “e-engagement” tools on ease of use, appeal, and suitability for purpose; i.e. to help find information, decide, and express their own point of view, whether acting on their own accord or through a school or youth group meeting.
The findings will inform plans to engage young people in Scotland on this and other complex policy issues.
Completed: Project ran from February 2004 to January 2006
In February 2004 the ITC received funding from the Scottish Executive to investigate how technology could be developed to help regenerate democracy at the local community level.
Community councils are at the heart of local government in Scotland. They are small, local groups and are, by law, made up of members of their own community, giving them direct access to their constituents at a more detailed daily level than most politicians or local authority councillors could ever hope to achieve. They live in the community they serve, know personally many of the issues and can readily judge the impact of new or changed policies and suggestions from government. Currently they represent their constituents as best they can, relying on word-of-mouth, and may therefore not be as inclusive as they otherwise might be. They are often given little time to study fairly major proposals before their considered input is required. This project aims to address these problems by developing and testing a suite of e-democracy tools to support Community Councils.
ITC's partners in this project are Stirling Council, the Association of Community Councils for the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park area, Stirling Assembly and the Association of Scottish Community Councils. The project has the support of Dr Sylvia Jackson MSP.
e-Consultation: Education for Citizenship in Scotland
Completed: e-Consultation ran from December 2000 to March 2001
This on-line consultation enabled individuals to comment on the “Education for Citizenship in Scotland” consultation document.
The ITC, working with Learning and Teaching Scotland, developed an innovative approach to on-line consultation, focusing on the “Education for Citizenship” curricula material for 3 to 18 year olds in Scotland. The consultation document was integrated with the questions in it, allowing people to respond quantitatively and qualitatively. The on-line consultation was launched on 15 December, 2000, with responses closing on 16 March, 2001.
Download the evaluation report .PDF version (399kb)
e-Consultation: What sort of Scotland do we want to live in?
Completed: e-Consultation ran from June 2001 to October 2001
The Environment Group of the Scottish Executive commissioned this e-consultation, in order to gain input from citizens and groups to put forward as part of Scotland's contribution to the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, in autumn 2002. It aimed to inform people about the key issues facing a future Scotland and asked them to give their views on a range of issues from efficient use of resources to lifestyle and transport. This e-consultation was unique in its potential to influence early stages of policy formation. The consultation ran from 6th June to 8th October, 2001.
ITC produced two evaluation reports for the environment group:
Download "Analysis of the Comments Received" .PDF version (129kb)
Download "Evaluation of the Success of the e-Consultation Process" .PDF version (165kb)
- The "What sort of Scotland do we want to live in?" website
For more about this project see Usability and Community in a Dynamic e-Democracy Website.
e-Consultation: Youth Summit 2000
Completed: e-Consultation ran from May 2000 to June 2000
Electronic consultation to capture issues important to young people living in Scotland.
From 2nd May to 4th June 2000, any young person with access to the internet could go to www.e-consultant.org.uk, give their opinion on a range of hot topics and vote on which of these key issues were the most important facing young people in Scotland. The web site, which could be accessed from home, school, cybercafé or community centre, provided an opportunity for young people to participate in democracy over the internet and the results of the on-line consultation formed important input to Scottish Youth Summit 2000 - nine separate conferences across Scotland on 19th June, 2000 - which was attended by over 1,000 young people and Scottish Ministers.
eParticipation Scotland Baseline Workshop
Completed: Project ran from October 2008 to February 2009
This project centres on a workshop which gathers stakeholders in e-participation in Scotland (technology companies, academics, governmental/ legislative, public sector/ charity and citizens) in order to
- Bring people and organisations together and establish their current skills and needs.
- Share knowledge about current and future e-participation projects and opportunities; establish common and complementary areas of interest.
- Facilitate partner matching for future initiatives through a “speed dating” session e.g. dividing attendees into e-participation skills and e-participation needs.
- Begin to define the current baseline of e-participation in Scotland: i.e. live and planned initiatives, organisations, opportunities.
The workshop took place at Edinburgh Napier University on 27th November 2008. Please use the link below for the presentations etc.
e-Petitioner for English Local Authorities
Completed: Project ran from June 2004 to March 2006
The e-petitioning project was part of the Local e-Democracy National Project, involving English local authorities and funded by the UK Government (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister). It aimed to explore e-petitioning as a way for citizens to raise their own concerns within the formal processes of the local authority. E-petitioning was implemented and piloted by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, and Bristol City Council, in the year to March 2005. Our evaluation used a combination of interviews, field tests and e-petition results to develop an understanding of how citizens and stakeholders perceive e-petitioning. Analysis of these also provided feedback to local authorities on how to use e-petitioning more effectively.
E-petitioner was used by hundreds of citizens in each Council area, and showed early signs of impacting on decision-making. The main strengths lay in the area of political support, improved transparency of decision-making, and convenience and choice for citizens. There was evidence that e-petitioning reinforces ‘civic mindedness’, appealing to people who believe that community action can influence decision-making but have not previously taken such action themselves. Improvements were sought in the integration of e-petitioning and paper petitioning, and the latter was thought more suitable for highly localised issues.
Both councils chose to use E-petitioner beyond the period of the evaluation, amending it in the light of experience. Bristol maintained a particularly close relationship with ITC, working with ITC on amendments and having the system hosted on the ITC server. Bristol moved to using a new system in January 2008. The Royal Borough of Kingston took full responsibility for their e-petitioner system after the pilot period.
e-Petitioning for the German Bundestag
Completed: Project ran from September 2005 to September 2008
ITC worked with the Petitions Committee of the German Bundestag to research and report on e-engagement using the e-Petitioner tool in order to support their Public Petitions agenda. We took our existing e-Petitioner System, and redesigned it in collaboration with their Online Services Department to produce an application to contend with the needs of a large European Parliament. We also demonstrated that e-Petitioner could be implemented in a language other than English.
During the evaluation period, e-Petitioner assisted the German Bundestag in discharging their responsibilities to upholding the right of their citizens to petition the Parliament, by providing a novel electronic channel to compliment their exisiting work with paper petitions.
e-Petitioning for the Scottish Parliament
Completed: Project ran from June 2003 to October 2007
The ITC has been working with the Scottish Parliament since 1999, researching the design and management of an electronic petitioning system for the Public Petitions Committee of the Parliament. We have had a formal contract with The Scottish Parliament from November 2002 to 2005 to provide a hosted electronic petitioning service to the PPC and research and report on e-engagement using the e-Petitioner tool. Importantly, the research has provided higher-level insights into the mechanisms that need to be built into electronic participation systems to appreciate how, where and why people use them.
In November 2005 the ITC, in partnership with BT, began a new period of supporting the ePetitioner for the Parliament. BT are providing a secure hosted electronic petitioning service to the PPC for two years and in that time the ITC will manage the service and research further developments.
The e-petitioning system allows any citizen to raise and sign an e-petition, or to add comments to an online discussion if they wish. The e-petitioning management process is seamlessly integrated with procedures for handling paper petitions, which citizens can choose to use instead of or in conjunction with e-petitions. The project demonstrates that by explicitly supporting e-petitioning, parliaments and other public sector actors can establish a dynamic platform for citizens to highlight issues through channels that are convenient for them, and to watch their concerns progress through the stages of public decision-making. It is enabling the Scottish Parliament to address the decline in civic engagement that has become widespread in Europe. The e-petitioning system is one of a very few examples worldwide of ‘active e-participation’ and as such was nominated for an eEurope eGovernment award by the European Commission in 2005.
In 2008 the system was upgraded to handle more petitions and users and has been successfully handed over fully from Napier to The Scottish Parliament. The Scottish parliament are now entirely responsible for the system and should be contacted directly if you have any queries about it.
e-Petitioning the Scottish Parliament 1999
Completed: Project ran from December 1999 to November 2003
The Scottish Parliament accepted its first electronic petition from the ITC's electronic petitioning system.
In December 1999 the Scottish Parliament agreed to allow an electronic petition from the e-petitioner system sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) to be the first electronic petition to collect names and addresses electronically. This was a special arrangement between the ITC and the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament, and allowed both parties to start to evaluate the use and civic impact of electronic petitioning in Scotland.
Following the success of e-Petitioner, the Public Petitions Committee suggested a more thorough integration of e-petitioner with their pages on the Parliament's website. In Spring 2003, e-petitioner was 're-branded' to provide a seamless integration between the tool and the Scottish Parliament website. It now hosts online petitions to the Parliament and visitors may read and sign a petition, read background information and join in a discussion about the topic and follow the progress of submitted petitions through Parliamentary Committees.
EU - AVANTI : Added Value Access to New Technologies and services on the Internet
Completed: Project ran from June 2001 to July 2003
AVANTI (Added Value Access to New Technologies and services on the Internet) was an EC funded project (IST-2000-28585) that finished July '03. It focused on the use of a software toolkit to produce prototype digital avatars. These aimed to enhance the acceptability of e-government services to citizens and other stakeholders in service delivery, targeting the 'digitally excluded' in particular. The avatars were animated characters designed to guide a person through online transactions and services, by asking a series of questions in simple language and responding appropriately. In this way, the AVANTI prototype aimed to address the barriers that ordinary people face in using digital services. The project involved 4 European public authorities and 3 other research and development partners in addition to ITC, whose role was evaluation of the prototype.
EU - DEMO-net : The Democracy Network
Completed: Project ran from January 2006 to July 2008
The DEMO_net Network of Excellence project aims to promote and develop, through a focussed and integrated research programme, technological and socio-technical excellence in the emerging field of e-Participation. It builds on the experience accumulated by leading European research organisations that have studied the underlying principles of e-Participation and actively worked with governments across Europe in applying and evaluating e-Participation. The project's aim is to advance the way research is carried out in Europe with respect to quality, efficiency, innovation and impact to overcome the currently fragmented approach to e-Participation.
EU - EDEN : Electronic Democracy European Network
Completed: Project ran from February 2001 to July 2003
This European Commission supported project (IST-1999-20230) ran from February 2001 to January 2004. The ITC's role was to identify what officials and the public would need from a web-based software toolkit intended to support communication between them, and to evaluate its likely impact on public participation in policy making. This toolkit comprises a set of applications that use Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology. The aim was to improve communication between Public Administrations and citizens, especially when that communication related to urban planning. Improvements in web service access, navigation, and comprehension were expected to lead to enhanced participation by citizens in decision making. Eden was a collaborative project involving 5 European public authorities and 5 other research and development partners in addition to ITC.
EU - eRepresentative : A virtual desktop to support the mobile elected representative
Completed: Project ran from February 2006 to July 2008
The eRepresentative project is a two year EU-funded research and development project involving elected assemblies at the national, regional and local levels. It is investigating the potential of a "virtual desktop" to enable personalised interaction with, and integration of, relevant information for elected representatives to support their day-to-day committee work. ITC is investigating how the "virtual desktop" supports representatives to obtain personalised, specific, filtered data 'anywhere, any place and anytime'; to collaborate with each other and appropriate stakeholders, securely and conveniently; and to influence the legislative process in a timely and convenient manner.
EU - EuroPetition
Completed: Project ran from January 2009 to March 2011
The EuroPetition project demonstrated the implementation of a trans-European Local Authority service providing distributed citizen engagement and interaction with the European Parliament’s PETI Petitions Committee and the European Citizens' Initiative.
It utilised an open-source e-petitioner system - developed by Public-i from ITC's original system. The system supports coordination and submission of cross-border and pan-European EuroPetitions to local government and the European Parliament's Petition Committee. Five European regions were involved: Andalusia (Spain), Italy, Netherland, Sweden and the UK and with a reach of around 6 million citizens across the EU. It showed how to strengthen and broaden citizens' participation in democratic decision-making and contribute to better legislation through applying the latest available innovative ICT.
The EuroPetition project is sponsored by the European Commission under EU eParticipation preparatory action.
EU - HANDS : Helping Answers Decision Service
Completed: Project ran from November 2005 to July 2007
The HANDS project aims at validating in the European market the results obtained from the IST EDEN project which Napier was previously a partner in. Two natural language based tools developed by Italian partners under EDEN are being further developed and deployed in other public authorities and Utility companies. The role of the ITC is to model the business processes of the end-users and develop the evaluation framework. Project in collaboration with the public authorities in Bologna, Saarbruecken and Edinburgh, AGAC-a drinking water supply company in Italy, and with technology developers Regulus and Getronics Italy . HANDS is funded through the European Commission eTen Progamme. The project will last for 18 months and the total budget is 850,000euro.
EU - HuWY : Hub Websites for Youth Participation
Completed: Project ran from January 2009 to March 2011
HuWY supports young people to influence policies related to the Internet, using distributed discussions. HuWY project is sponsored by the European Commission under the eParticipation preparatory action: EP-08-01-011
EU - WEB.DEP : Western Balkans Democratic Participation
Completed: Project ran from January 2007 to March 2009
The project’s primary aim is to establish a communication and information management network hosted by the National News Agencies of the Western Balkan countries.
The network will take the online form of:
- a thematic portal (the communication environment) to enable sharing of public information (supporting a range of multimedia formats);
- a community forum. This will support interactive e-democracy processes based on a discussion forum, questionnaires and polling mechanisms.
The environment will be unified across the 3 Western Balkans countries involved, governed by a shared set of specified procedures and a common code of ethics. The project aims to involve policy makers and stakeholders from Western Balkans - including relevant Governmental Organisations (Ministries), Public News Agencies and citizens –in the use and outcomes of the network.
The project brings together 8 partners representing three Western Balkan Countries (Albania, Serbia and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) as well as two Member States (Greece and United Kingdom). The project is funded under the European Commission's Sixth Framework Programme: FP6-045003-Web-Dep.
Completed: Project ran from February 2002 to January 2004
SmartGov (IST-2001-35399) was a project funded by the European Commission under its Information Society Technologies Programme (IST). It finished at the end of January 2004. The aim of the project was to develop a governmental knowledge-based platform for public sector online services. ITC's research focused on the social and socio-technical aspects of such services. We developed the e-Government Services Ontology, that underpins The Framework for e-Government Services (available for free download), which we hope will benefit both researchers and public authorities in the ways that they think about the area. ITC played a major part in requirements gathering and led the evaluation of the SmartGov software tools. It worked closely with the City of Edinburgh Council, where a pilot application of SmartGov was installed and tested during the second half of 2003. This pilot assisted in the service that provides equipment to elderly and infirm people, to help them to remain in living their own homes. The Senior Occupational Therapists and Staff at the Joint Domiciliary Equipment Stores at the Council, successfully used the platform to create the web-based service themselves.
The SmartGov platform was developed in collaboration with 5 other European partners, and ran from February 2002 to January 2004.
Completed: e-Voting ran from September 2000 to October 2000
The e-voter system was initially used from 4th September to 10th October 2000, to support the Highland Youth Voice elections. It supported the education of the voters on the purpose of the election, the voting process and arrangements for counting the votes. Specifically e-voter was used for voting and discussion by young people registered in schools in the Highland area. It supported decentralised voting and counting, with appropriate security, privacy, and verification measures; provided public visibility for the election and engaged the attention and participation of young people.
Download "E-Voter and the Highland Youth Voice Elections" (pdf file)
E-Voter, 2002 and 2004
The ITC are now working with Highland Youth Voice in the redevelopment of their website. The redesigned elections section was used to vote for new members in October 2002 and 2004.
Expert Evaluation for the Local eDemocracy National Project
Completed: Project ran from March 2004 to March 2005
How can Local Authorities be sure that eDemocracy works? How can they be sure that they are using the right e-enabled tool for the job and that the use of these tools will result in effective input to the democratic process? And what about citizens? How can they be encouraged and enabled to make best use of eDemocracy? These are some of the overarching questions that Workstream Four of the Local eDemocracy National Project aimed to answer.
Bristol City Council - as leaders of this workstream, recruited Professor Ann Macintosh of the ITC along with Professors Stephen Coleman of the Oxford Internet Institute and Mansur Lalljee, Fellow of Jesus College Oxford to form an Expert Evaluation Team to provide strategic input to the evaluation. They worked together to assess how technology is being used most effectively to invigorate democratic involvement between citizens, their local council and their elected representative.
The team of three experts, each with a different eDemocracy outlook, worked collaboratively to:
- provide advice to Bristol City Council in its lead-authority role, including helping the council to scope and to define in-depth evaluation projects;
- offer support and advice to all the workstreams and in some cases, project lead authorities within the National Project on evaluation issues with the aim of developing some consistency of approach;
- develop and refine self-evaluation tools that will be made available to all councils in carrying out future self-evaluations of their eDemocracy work.
Additionally, the ITC undertook an in-depth evaluation of a number of the funded eDemocracy projects under the title - "eDemocracy from the Top Down". The aim was to undertake a qualitative evaluation of eDemocracy activities initiated by English Local Authorities in particular but also by Government in order to reach conclusions about the benefits and effectiveness of these approaches both in their own right and in comparison to more traditional forms of democratic engagement.
Highland Youth Voice
Completed: Project ran from September 2001 to March 2008
ITC have been working with Highland Council and Highland Youth Voice since 2000. The current collaboration focuses on 2 initiatives tangential to the Youth Parliament and their website:
- Youth Forum websites
- and the Highland Youth Worker Resource
From 2001 to 2007, ITC worked with Highland Youth Voice (a democratically elected assembly for young people in the Highland Region of Scotland) developing their website. Youth Voice members were involved throughout on the specification, design and management of the site. The website essentially consisted of a content management system for news and information about the parliament, an online policy debating forum (where Youth Voice can extend their deliberations to all young people in the region) and an elections section (including e-voting tools).
KCLSU ePetitioner : King’s College London Students Union ePetitioner
Completed: Project ran from August 2008 to August 2009
ePetitions system for King’s College London Students Union.
PEP-NET : Pan European eParticipation Network
Completed: Project ran from April 2008 to October 2010
ITC are Associate Members to PEP-NET
PEP-NET will be a European network of all stakeholders active in the field of eParticipation. PEP-NET therefore already includes public bodies, solution providers and citizen organizations as well as researchers and scientists. The network is open to all organizations willing and actively trying to advance the idea and use of eParticipation in Europe.
The project aims to help overcome fragmentation and promote best practice by connecting established and experienced eParticipation players and networks throughout Europe as a critical first step. The objective of this project is to achieve critical mass for the establishment of a Pan European eParticipation Network (PEP-NET). Such a network will act as a repository and disseminator of good practice and exchange of experience, and be a visible resource for all interested parties across the European Union.
Rowntree Charitable Trust Assessment of Electronic Petitions
Completed: Project ran from November 2000 to March 2001
The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust funded a short research study to monitor and assess electronic petitions. The deliverables of the project were:
- A framework for the management and delivery of electronic petitioning services.
- An evaluation report on the uptake and use of electronic petitioning.
Completed: Project ran from September 2008 to October 2011
The general aim of the Smart Cities project we to create an innovation network between governments and academic partners leading to excellence in the domain of the development and take-up of e-services, setting a new baseline for e-service delivery in the whole North Sea region. Edinburgh Napier University carried out formative evaluations and documented a number of case studies and best practice guides.
Smart Cities is a project funded by The North Sea Region Programme IVB
Ur'say for Young Scot
Completed: Project ran from April 2003 to April 2004
Young Scot is an information, rights and discounts organisation, working with young people across Scotland. In Spring 2002 its portal, youngscot.org was launched. The portal is designed to consolidate and expand on Young Scot's existing services and to develop a range of useful interactive applications for young people.
With support from the Scottish Executive, the Ur'Say channel was a registered members' discussion forum: designed to engage young people with contemporary issues, facilitate constructive discussions and impact on policy-making. ITC developed content and moderated the discussions, and worked with Young Scot to update and develop Ur'Say at a local level.
Working with young people
Completed: Project ran from July 2000 to June 2011
Edinburgh Napier University’s International Teledemocracy Centre (ITC) have worked on a number of projects designed to use the Internet to bring young people into democratic processes at local, national and EU levels. Young people may be disenfranchised through their age and/or disengaged from political processes which can seem boring, impenetrable and difficult to influence. However, young people’s input is vital to our democracies. They are major users of government services, especially at a local level, and also have extensive knowledge in certain policy areas, such as the online world.
Since 2000, ITC have worked for and with the Scottish Government, Highland Council and Young Scot to explore the issues important to young people and how best to provide interesting and useful ways to support their participation. ITC are also currently coordinating the EU-sponsored HUWY project, which aims to support young people’s eParticipation in policies about the Internet and its governance, through a distributed discussion.
Student projects: summaries
Risk Modelling at the Pre-Proposal Stages of eGovernment Projects
Completed: Project ran from October 2003 to June 2007
Adrianos Evangelidis started his doctoral research programme in October 2002, which was supported by studentship from the School of Computing at Napier University. Apart from receiving first class training in conducting academic research, Adrianos elaborates on the topic of the eGovernment project risks. Ultimately, this PhD programme is exploring the relevance of risk modelling at the early stages of eService projects for the government. The programme involved an extensive literature survey in the field of eGovernment risk, which informed the development of an eService model and risk taxonomy. A prototype eService risk modelling tool was devised that aims to assist in the decision-making processes for the qualification of any potential eService project. Also, the tool was field-tested with collaborating public authorities in Scotland, as well as eGovernment domain experts. The outcomes of such field research further informed a preliminary study in the relevance of risk modelling at the pre-proposal stage of eGovernment service projects. At present, Adrianos is putting all the research pieces together and is writing up his PhD thesis that he is hoping to submit soon.
Electronic Voting in the UK : An Exploration of Procedural Security, e-Electoral Administration and Social Acceptance of the e-Electoral Process
Completed: Project ran from October 2000 to May 2005
Within the wider spectrum of e-democracy, e-voting systems attempt to define long-established electoral practices. This project did not examine whether e-voting should become a standard voting practice, but began with the hypothesis that some stakeholders are willing to adopt e-voting systems and explored how electronic voting could be deployed in a secure and effective manner resulting in a socially accepted outcome. It is suggested that the traditional electoral process is re-engineered into an e-electoral process through the introduction of available e-voting technologies. Then, based on the UK e-voting experience and following a per stage analysis of the e-electoral process, the issues of procedural security, e-electoral administration and trust are examined and discussed.
The New Scottish Politics of Information:Governance and Information Technology in the Devolved Scotland
Completed: Project ran from September 1999 to September 2002
Paul Griffin's thesis provides an analysis of the new Scottish politics of information. It examines the implications of ICTs for the reformation of Scottish politics within the new historical moment of devolution. The positioning of distributed technologies within this moment are contrasted with the development of a new politics of centralised political computing. These oppositional political forces are in turn connected via the broader remit of Informatisation. The research uses the political theories of Transformational Politics and Reinforcement Politics to offer an analysis of the state of play within the new politics of information. It establishes the tensions between those theorists and activists, who argue for the ability of ICTs to transform politics and social relations, and those who maintain that ICTs will be used to reinforce and strengthen the powers of established elites.
Open Source development and government policy : Models to support the migration to and development of applications in an Open Source environment
The EC now supports IST projects that generate or use an OS solution and has funded a series of projects (eg CALIBRE) and reports (eg FLOSS, FLOSSPOLS) which have examined the requirements for resources to create and support open source (OS) applications in a EU context.
Napier University has participated in several such projects including SmartGov, HANDS eRepresentative and EuroPetition. At this level there seems to be a low level of awareness of the EC-funded work and how to exploit the FLOSS process. The result is that there is little perceived commitment to the wider FLOSS community, nor a perceived benefit to customer organisations from using FLOSS applications beyond possible savings in license fees.
The project will work to understand the reasons behind this observation, contrasting the European and North American experiences. The focus will be on the business and organisational motivations to support and application, not on the factors that lead to developers participating in individual projects.
This project will establish the factors involved, investigate what practical support is available that projects could take advantage of and to develop a model that can be used by European-funded OSS IST projects such as HANDS.
Weblogs and e-Democracy : Supporting the work of Community Councils
Completed: Project ran from August 2004 to January 2005
This dissertation is part of a larger International Teledemocracy Centre (ITC) project, “The e-Community Council”, funded by the Scottish Executive. The report details the design, development and evaluation of a weblog-based toolkit developed as part of the e-Community Councils project. The report provides a background for weblogs and Community Councils, and investigates the research surrounding the use of weblogs in business, knowledge management, and e-democracy. The goals and research questions for the project are also outlined, and the results and conclusions of a preliminary toolkit evaluation are reported.
Seeing the point of politics : Exploring the use of ‘argument visualisation’ techniques as aids to understanding the content of political debates in the Scottish Parliament
Completed: Project ran from November 2003 to March 2004
Research indicates that the increasing lack of interest in voting is reversed wherever the public are well informed about the prevailing political issues. Yet how can the abundance of material be presented so that it is sufficient for deliberation without suffocating the citizen's interest in politics? One potential answer is to adapt a technique employed in the domains of education and commerce to address 'Wicked' problems - Computer Supported Argument Visualisation (CSAV); this dissertation provides an initial assessment of such a suggestion.
Visualisations were created from two debates taken from the Scottish Parliament, chosen as examples of issues that would be of public interest but which, as currently presented, might prove bothersome to follow. Individuals - representing an NGO, the public and the Parliament, - provided feedback on how using visualisations compared with using the Parliament's Official Report when seeking a clear picture of political opinion.
Results suggested that whilst MSPs were likely to prefer the Official Report, the other groups felt that visualisations were an attractive means of obtaining this information; as such, this project provides grounds for continuing research into ways of encouraging participation through the use of Argument Visualisation.
Usability and Community : in a Dynamic e-Democracy Website
Completed: Project ran from April 2001 to March 2002
The e-consultation "What sort of Scotland do we want to live in?" was commissioned by the Scottish Executive, as an open consultation about sustainable development in Scotland. As part of this, ITC and partners developed an online consultation, to gather opinions through informed, web-based discussion.
The MSc research project was based on the active research undertaken in designing, moderating and evaluating this e-consultation. The research questions tackled included:
- the extent to which usability research and guidelines could be applied to assess and improve the design and development process. This includedinvestigation into ways in which informed discussion could best be facilitated by the way initial textual content was written and structured.
- The use of thematic icons, to thread information and the discussion, was also investigated.
- Analysis of community websites was reviewed, to find whether aspects of their design and management could usefully be adapted for future e-consultations.
The research methodology included analysing the user-generated content (the comments) to give an indication of the level of deliberation taking place between participants and how well they responding to the website's thread structure.