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Lessons learned

Why use WeGovNow

The WeGovNow platform has been successfully piloted in three European cities in real-world settings. With almost 10,000 users having registered to WeGovNow across all pilot sites, the platform has also proven to be scalable to larger number of users. Based on the feedback received from various stakeholders involved in the policy scenarios piloted, the WeGovNow platform and its different features have been considered particularly useful for:

  • strengthening the voice of the public;
  • reaching out into the local community;
  • achieving a better quality of the public discourse;
  • and achieving multilateral stakeholder interaction.

Various benefits were perceived to flow from the platform’s functional utility to the different stakeholder groups involved in the local pilots. They concern, on the one hand, commonly accepted democratic values such as enhanced democratic legitimacy of administrative decision making. On the other hand, utilitarian aspects such as better informed decision making came to the fore as well. For a more detailed elaboration, please see D4.3 in our project reports section.

Two perspectives to be considered

An assessment of the pilot outcomes shed light on a number of aspects deserving attention if sustainable participation of local stakeholders is to be achieved. Most importanly, two perspectives need to be taken into account: the perspective of the citizen’s and the public administration's perspective intending to operate the online platform in a given local setting.

When it comes to citizens and other local stakeholders, the WeGovNow pilots have shown that there is no reason to assume that people would suddenly become passionate about the intricate policy decisions or administrative processes that impact their lives, just because a powerful online platform becomes available to them. Beyond the functional utility of the pilot platform, motivational aspects deserve attention if continued utilisation by the citizens should be achieved. They concern in particular the citizen’s perception as to whether they:

  • have the possibility to exert an influences on policy development or implementation by utilising WeGovNow;
  • are directly affected by or concerned about policy challenges or issues under discussion on WeGovNow;
  • feel receiving intangible rewards when engaging in local matters through WeGovNow;
  • have to bear intangible costs when for engaging in local matters through WeGovNow.

When adopting the perspective of the local administration, attracting wider usage for WeGovNow requires taking due account not only the perspective of the citizens’ but also of the perspectives of various parties potentially concerned within the public administration. A number of aspects deserve attention as well if sustainable platform operation is to be achieved, like the following:

  • Sustainable use of WeGovNow requires embedding the technical infrastructure into a comprehensive "political" strategy towards stakeholder participation in the co-/re-development of local policies and/or services, both politically and administratively.
  • In contrast to established eGovernment services, there is not a single, pre-defined “workflow” to be followed by the public administration for co-creating local policies or services with help of WeGovNow. Sustainable use of the platform therefore requires designing locally adapted stakeholder participation processes feeding into the more strategic goals. Beyond a political will to give people a greater say in the shaping of local policies and/or public services, such an approach therefore also requires cross-cutting co-ordination within the local administration if sustainable outcomes arte to be achieved.


Strategic recommendations

Based on the lessons learned throughout the project, a set of strategic recommendations have been formulated which concern in particular organisations potentially interested in WeGovNow deployment, policy-makers more generally and the research community. For a more dedailed elaboration, please see D5.6 in our project reports section.

Recommendations for organisations interested in deploying WeGovNow

  • Guide WeGovNow deployment planning by a consolidated strategy towards stakeholder participation in local policy development that goes beyond mere usage of the online platform.
  • Stakeholder participation process models to be supported by the online features available through WeGovNow need to be defined locally.
  • Take your time to obtain a detailed understanding of the current working processes, priorities and future direction of all parties to be involved in WeGovNow deployment.
  • Appropriate risk assessment and management procedures should be put in place. Plan and implement process change in a multi-departmental and/or multi-stakeholder WeGovNow deployment environment.
  • Establish mechanisms for awareness raising and dialogue directed towards a “cultural change” towards increased self-organisation.
  • Pay appropriate attention to legal requirements right from the beginning.

Recommendations for policy and research

  • Examine current eGovernment legal and regulatory frameworks with a view to their receptiveness towards WeGovernment.
  • We-Government should be considered as a long-term investment rather than a means to achieve short-term rationalisation effects in public administrations.
  • Support awareness rising and mutual exchange about WeGovernment.
  • Beyond technology development further evidence on long-term impacts of WeGovernment should be generated.