The City of Wellington, NZ has released an very detailed e-democracy policy. It illustrates how ideas from leading “e-democracy interested” communities easily spread round the world. Note their Have Your Say section. It is good to see there use of e-alerts which I’ve highlighted among the collection of e-democracy briefs.
To get a sense of their future direction see the report Information and Communications Technology Policy and note their large section on e-democracy:
SECTION 4: e-Democracy
4.1 What is e-Democracy? 16
4.2 Why e-Democracy? 16
4.3 Strategic Fit 17
4.4 e-Voting 18
4.5 Objectives 18
4.6 Policy Implementation 21
4.7 Performance Measures 22
Here is the report’s introductory text:
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has already changed the way many Wellington residents live, work and play, and the Council believes it has further potential to enhance the lives of Wellingtonians.
ICT includes electronic information processing technologies such as computers and the internet (including email) as well as cellular, digital and wireless technologies and fixed line telecommunications. The Council believes these technologies have the
â€¢ enhance the cityâ€™s economic development â€“ by providing a telecommunications infrastructure that enables new opportunities for innovation, increased productivity and an enhanced quality of life
â€¢ contribute to the well-being of the community â€“ by building capability and enabling individuals and communities to develop economically, socially, and culturally
â€¢ enhance and increase engagement in local democracy by enabling individuals and
communities to be linked to local government and local networks.
The ICT Policy is divided into three separate, but interrelated, areas:
Contributing to the
capability in the
Participating in local
At this stage the Council has adopted the e-Community and e-Democracy components of the policy. It is anticipated that the economic development component will be developed in the second half of 2006.
The e-Community component of the policy focuses on ensuring that disadvantaged communities in Wellington do not miss out on the economic, social and cultural benefits that technologies can provide. Access to ICT, and the ability to use it, is
increasingly critical for accessing information and resources. The e-Community component of the policy aims to ensure no one is excluded from the burgeoning â€œknowledge societyâ€ due to a lack of access or skills.
The e-Democracy component of the policy focuses on the opportunities technology presents for increasing citizen involvement and engagement in Council processes.
ICT has the potential to break down social, geographic, physical and economic barriers to participation as it makes information readily available and can provide new channels for dialogue between citizens and elected representatives. The e-Democracy
component of the policy aims to enhance and increase participation in the Councilâ€™s decision-making processes as well as provide efficient access to Council services. The Council recognises that enabling access to and training in ICT through the e-
Community component is critical to the e-Democracy programme being successful.
And while you don’t want to miss their full e-democracy section, here is a clip on policy implementation:
4.6 Policy Implementation
The Council has been advancing its e-Democracy capability over the past few years through the information and functions it has made available on the website (footnote 8).
Recent additions to the website include:
â€¢ information on how to participate in the Councilâ€™s decision-making processes in a number of different languages
â€¢ a web alert subscription service, where people can elect to receive email notifications about new content in areas of interest to individual users
â€¢ a â€œfix-itâ€ page the public can use to inform the Council of a problem.
The Council also supports the Wellington Community Network (WCN) (footnote 9) which not only addresses community groupsâ€™ ICT needs but doubles as an e-Democracy tool as it enables community groups to have an online presence and voice, and to access online facilities, information and programmes they might not otherwise be able to.
Through its library network the Council provides access to free customer PCs, which can access over 6,000 websites â€“ including the Councilâ€™s and selected government and information websites. In addition, the library provides:
â€¢ free access to thousands of current electronic journals and newspapers.
â€¢ a virtual online reference service â€œAnyquestionsâ€
â€¢ migrant community library guide: information in 15 languages and links to international newspapers in community languages
â€¢ heritage digitisation programme â€“ including creating online indexes to local information.
In the 2006-2016 LTCCP, the Council has included $55,000 of new funding for such initiatives such as:
â€¢ e-Panels â€“ residents are able to sign up to be part of a group that is regularly provided with information on relevant Council issues and consultations and asked to provide feedback
â€¢ e-Petitions â€“ petitions can be established online, have names collected electronically and then be tracked to show the Councilâ€™s receipt of it through to how it is responded to
â€¢ e-Public participation â€“ residents are able to electronically submit comments for a Council Committeeâ€™s consideration at a public meeting. The comments will be treated as though they are part of the formal â€œpublic participationâ€ item on the
agenda, and will be formally minuted.
This is not the full extent of the policy implementation. In light of the success of these projects, further initiatives may be considered as part of future annual plans.
8 The public is able to access elected membersâ€™ contact details (including email addresses), accountability information (annual plan, annual report), policy and bylaws information, meeting schedules (including reports and minutes), a consultation schedule, information on all of the Councilâ€™s services. Members of the public can also make an electronic submission for Council consultations (This function has been used increasingly over the past few years. On average, 30% of submissions are now received via the website – the range from November 2004 to date was 3% through to 58%).
9 An electronic community network that provides website hosting to over 580 community groups, as well as content management support, training and email and discussion forum facilities. 22