PADGETS - Policy Gadgets in Social Media (PADGETS)

Published on: 07/11/2010

Today the ever growing visibility of the web as a medium that exhibits the potential to attract and maintain society's involvement coupled with the need for a more citizen-centric and socially-rooted policy making, calls for novel tools with the capability to analyze society's input and forecast the possible impact of policies. Thus, citizen-centric governance arises more pressing than ever.

The PADGETS project aims at bringing together two well established domains, the smash up architectural approach of web 2.0 for creating web applications (gadgets) and the methodology of system dynamics in analyzing complex system behavior.

The objective is to design, develop and deploy a prototype toolset that will allow policy makers to graphically create web applications that will be deployed in the environment of underlying knowledge in Web 2.0 media. For this reason, the project introduces the concept of Policy Gadget (Padget) - similarly to the approach of gadget applications in web 2.0 - to represent a micro web application that combines a policy message with underlying group knowledge in social media (in the form of content and user activities) and interacts with end users in popular locations (such as social networks, blogs, forums, news sites, etc) in order to get and convey their input to policy makers.

Through the proposed platform any policy can become a reusable and communicable web application to be used in relation to underlying content and social activities over the web. Policy makers will be able to set up such applications on their own and use them to communicate their policies to the public. People can use these applications as they use everyday services and policy makers can track the results of this interaction back to their policy making process to assist them in reaching solid decisions that represent society's input and aspirations.

Policy Context

PADGETS's strategic impact lies on its contributions towards achieving the goals of the Digital Agenda 2020 for open, participative governance with the use of advanced ICT.

Employing a multidisciplinary approach which capitalises on the disruptive impact of open social media, social networking and web 2.0 technologies, and evolutions in methodologies of system dynamics in analyzing complex system behaviour, while making optimal use of vast public sector knowledge resources, PADGETS will work on the area of policy modeling based on simulated behaviour and wishes of large numbers of citizens.

This combination of technology and usage trends enables the development and implementation of new policies and simulations, which in the context of PADGETS, will address key societal issues of the European Agenda through the selected pilots on ICT Planning, Services Directive, and Unemployment.

The PADGETS results will support a new approach to policy modeling which involves the policy making community, the experts community, and citizens at large thus contributing towards adoption of ICT for participative e-Governance, leading eventually to better policy making and implementation.

Description of target users and groups

PADGETS addresses and can be used by any public administration or policy makers.

Example-pilot activities take place in three different countries and will be focused on two key European Policy subjects. Public Administrations involved in the pilot activities will be:

  • The Greek ICT Observatory, supervised by the Ministry of Finance, which is the main organisation for monitoring, forecasting and analyzing the impact of the Greek Digital Strategy, at National Level. The Observatory is also responsible for i2010 indicators measurement, administrative burden reduction metrics, governmental KPI's, eGovernment investment monitoring, and has access to all the public sector knowledge in Greece.
  • The Piedmont Region, one of the most dynamic and progressed Italian Regions in the area of ICT planning, industrial development and SME's management. The Region is a planning andprogramming body which has a primary role in the pursuance of the duties devolved by the administrative decentralization in strategic sectors of the public service (such as work, transports, finance, health), in the development of the Information Society, in the promotion of the cooperation among the different levels of local Public Administration and in the coordination of the action on the territory to achieve the e-government targets at local level.
  • The Centre for eGovernance Development of Slovenia, acting as a supporting planning agency both for the Slovenian Government but also for the whole Western Balkans Region, including Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

PADGETS is implemented by a multinational consortium, coordinated by the University of the Aegean - Information Systems Laboratory and comprising 11 more partners, as following:

Whitehall Reply srl, Italy
Athens Technology Center SA ATC, Greece 
Google Ireland Limited, Ireland
Universitaet Regensburg, Germany 
Politecnico di Torino, Italy 
National Technical University of Athens, Greece 
Tech4i2 Limited, United Kingdom 
Regione Piemonte, Italy
Observatory for the Greek Information Society, Greece
Centre for eGovernance development, Slovenia
Fraunhofer - Fokus, Germany

Technology solution

Technology choice: Mainly (or only) open standards, Open source software

Main results, benefits and impacts

It is anticipated that the PADGETS Project will contribute towards achieving the following results:

  • Improve empowerment and engagement of individuals, groups and communities in policy making processes;
  • Increase citizens' trust through transparency and feedback of their contributions;
  • Provide feedback on important issues of the European Agenda;
  • Improve the predictions of policy impact, due to increased contribution and involvement of individuals and communities;
  • Improve the competitive position of European industry in the fields policy modelling and ICT.

Lessons learnt

"Policy Gadgets" are a breakthrough approach to public discourse that will:

  • Provide easy and intuitive access to Web 2.0 media for communicating policy proposals and collecting feedback;
  • Leverage the network effects of existing social media to involve users and online communities in the policy formulation process;
  • Increase citizen trust and transparency through public and established social channels;
  • Assist in forecasting public response and the impact of policy measures.

Through this unique approach, we expect significant benefits for citizens and policy makers by complementing and promoting the democratic ways.

Scope: International, Local (city or municipality), National, Pan-European