WeGovNow was only possible thanks to EU funding and to the partnership of 12 dedicated organisations working in five different European countries. The project has been a collaborative effort by a multi-disciplinary team including IT developers, public sector workers, researchers and consultants. Learn more about the organisations involved in WeGovNow below.
empirica has established itself as a leading European institute with a broad understanding of political, business and socio-economic issues surrounding eServices and telematics applications. The group has a permanent staff from a range of disciplines, including medicine / health, social care, IT engineering, (medical) informatics, economics, social, political, management and public administration sciences. This mix of qualifications combined with a well-established network of international partners allows easy formation of interdisciplinary and international teams well-tuned to the demands of newly developing markets or for new strategic and policy directions.
empirica was the co-ordinator of WeGovNow, responsible for both the operational and administrative management of the project. empirica has also been responsible for the evaluation of the local validation trials where citizens of Turin and San Dona di Piave in Italy, as well as of the London Borough on Southwark in the UK were able to test and try the WeGovNow services. Furthermore, empirica runs the project website and social media communication channels.
Mapping for Change (MfC) is a University College London spin-out social enterprise. We were founded in 2008 and born from over 15 years of ongoing that centres on participatory mapping and participatory geographic information systems. MfC specialise in working across sectors, in a participatory capacity, in the use of geospatial technologies to achieve social and environmental sustainability, with a particular focus on, but not limited to, individuals and communities from disadvantaged or marginalised groups.
We undertake research and development of new processes, technologies, tools and platforms, such as our Community Maps software, which seeks to create improvements for the health, wellbeing and culture of individuals and communities. This is centred on providing easily replicable data collection and sharing methodologies that use inclusive approaches, interactive mapping tools and interface design, and knowledge creation processes to extend end-user utility.
Our aim is to widen the number of citizens engaging in community life, particularly those who ordinarily do not participate in decision-making processes.
Based on its experience across a number of projects that focus on the empowerment of communities through the deployment of new technologies, MfC has led the work on stakeholder engagement and local validation trials within WeGovNow. MfC, in collaboration with the London Borough of Southwark, has manage the London based pilot. MfC has also made available the implementation of Community Maps, a flexible and stylish participatory mapping platform that can visualise data, compare information, and encourage conversations about the places and things that matter. Community Maps can facilitate dialogue and collaboration across sectors, within organisations, or amongst communities. Expansion and customisation were undertaken based on needs identified by WeGovNow.
The University College London (UCL) is consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the UK, and within the top 25 in the world. Academic excellence and research that addresses real-world problems inform the university’s ethos to this day and are central to its 20-year strategy, UCL 2034. UCL encourages public engagement to support communities with scientific expertise, create knowledge in collaboration with communities and members of the public and create a sustainable channel of dialogue where knowledge and experiences are shared and where ‘public participants’ influence future research to maximise societal impact and benefit. The Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, is the UCL partner in the WeGovNow project. ExCiteS is a multidisciplinary group with over 15 researchers that develop the theories, tools and methodologies, to enable situated, bottom-up public engagement practices, which are driven by people and their local needs. The group is involved in many projects and recently launched the H2020-ISSI-6-2015-1 Doing Together Science (DITOs) project, which ExCiteS coordinates.
The involvement of ExCiteS in WeGovNow has focused on technological, user as well as spatial data aspects. First, ExCiteS has provided its expertise to support the technological integration of the various systems and contribute to the creation of the WeGovNow Platform with its Community Maps and GeoKey systems. These have already been used for supporting local authorities and citizens in decision-making processes in various contexts. Second, ExCiteS has worked closely with our social enterprise Mapping for Change to engage local authorities in a structured but also iterative process of user requirements elicitation. The philosophy of User-Centred Design (UCD) is not only central to WeGovNow Project, it is also pivotal to the ethos and practices of ExCiteS which will drive this process. Finally, the ExCiteS group has an extensive experience in the development and use of geospatial tools and data issues and therby having supported WeGovNow in spatial data quality and data integration assessments, with a particular focus on addressing metadata and data reuse issues.
The Computer Science Department of the University of Turin coordinates research activities in various fields of studies in ICT and Informatics. In particular, it has been carried out research on knowledge-based systems, data interoperability, NLP, legal informatics and geo-informatics. In WeGovNow it brings expertise in knowledge modeling and representation for geo-based application and in data interoperability which allows to integrate heterogeneous public Open Data as well as of public data crowdsourced by the WeGovNow platform.
Together with its affiliate Politecnico di Torino, the department has played two main roles in the WeGovNow framework; notably, it led the agile development of the platform and was responsible for taking care of legal aspects.
INFALIA Private Company is a recently founded SME company that specializes in the provision of cutting edge ICT solutions for smart cities and social data mining, as well as in highly interactive Web and mobile application development. The company, founded on January 2014, is a spin-out of the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH): all six of its founders have worked for many years as researchers with the Information Technologies Institute (ITI) of CERTH in a number of EC- and industry-funded research projects. Collecting, processing, mining and making accessible through intuitive applications data from mobile citizens lie at the core of INFALIA solutions for smart cities. Part of INFALIA experience comes from the participation of CERTH and its founders in a number of EU funded projects.
The role of Infalia in WeGovNow was to make available the implementation of ImproveMyCity, an e-Government web and mobile application promoting direct citizen-government communication and collaboration and to drive the development effort towards the expansion and customisation based on WeGovNow needs. The design and implementation of the trusted marketplace mechanism (offers & request) to provide automated matchmaking between WeGovNow users, was another major task of Infalia. Overall, Infalia has contributed its expertise and experience from previous and progressing projects and current active installations of its services and products. Also, Infalia led WP1 (Conceptual & methodological framework consolidation).
The democracy software LiquidFeedback has morphed into an international benchmark for democratic participation using the internet. The LiquidFeedback proposition development process, the collective moderation, a dynamic division of labor and a cutting edge preferential voting system live up to the highest democratic standards. LiquidFeedback allows an infinite number of participants to make democratic decisions asynchronous and location-independent and pushes the boundaries of democratic participation by giving everyone an equal opportunity to participate in the democratic process. The proposition development and decision making process in LiquidFeedback is fully user driven and does not need any moderator or request commission.
In WeGovNow, LiquidFeedback was responsible for all opinion formation processes. The LiquidFeedback software supports geo-tagging of user input and provides geographic searches (geospatial indexing). LiquidFeedback has also provided the unified WeGovNow user management and the system integration framework which allows the seamless integration of the WeGovNow applications as well as existing e-government solutions, third party applications and mobile apps.
Heidelberg University is the oldest (625 years) university in Germany and constantly ranked among the three best universities in Germany according to several international rankings. Just last summer it was for the second time in a row among the winners of the recent German Initiative of Excellence. The GIScience research group at Heidelberg University's Department of Geography belongs to the most dynamically-growing research groups throughout Europe with now over eight experienced Postdocs and senior researchers specializing in different aspects of Crowdsourcing GI, VGI, Urban Sensing, data quality, Web-based GIS and Spatial Data Infrastructures, Routing and Navigation, 3D and Spatial Analysis in different domains where geographic information can be used. Further up to 20 additional scientist and PhD students address those areas. The group works with Open Street Map since 2007 and introduced early 2008 the first European-wide route planning service for pedestrian and bicycle routing including stairs, passways, etc. that used crowd-sourced data from Open Street Map and other free sources such as the SRTM elevation model. This routing service is online since that time and accessed by thousands of users throughout Europe on a daily basis. To enhance interoperability and integration with other systems, the service uses only open standards by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).
Within the WeGovNow consortium, GIScience at the University of Heidelberg focused on the identification of metrics that are important for different user groups in the role of data quality analysis. As well as the identification of this information, they have conducted research into approaches for portraying this information to a user in the most appropriate manner for them to make informed decisions.
Funka Nu AB is a Swedish accessibility and user experience consultancy, that was started by the joint disability organisations in the mid-90s. We have offices in Stockholm, Oslo and Madrid and clients all over the world. Funka works with accessibility in content, design and technology of digital interfaces; web, ICT and documents in all possible formats, apps, ticket machines and ATMs, but also signs and other kinds of information. We have a unit focusing on accessibility in the built environment, orientation, acoustics and how to treat and communicate with persons with different abilities. We focus on hands on testing, experience and scientific methodology. Around 20 % of the turnover comes from financial instruments in research. We partner with several leading universities around Europé and cooperate with many disability organisations. Through positions of trust and work in standardisation, Funka sets standards for development, analysis and formation of requirements in accessibility.
Funka has mainly contributed to the agile development of the overall WeGovNow platform with respect to the usability and accessibility aspects. This role is played both in terms of conceptual and methodological framework consolidation and for providing cutting-edge and practical support to software developers on how to build the different components of the platform in a way that can be easily used by a wide range of users (people with varying abilities, older users, and citizens at potential risk of technological and informational exclusion). Funka was also deeply involved in the promotion of the project results and their exploitation for reinforcing its own expertise in e-Government services and ultimately its positioning on the market of the e-accessibility products.
Situated in the northwest of Italy, Turin is the capital of the Piedmont region. The largest part of the city is located on the left bank of the Po River, surrounded by the western Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is about 900,000 while the population of the urban area is estimated to be 1.7 million inhabitants. As such Turin is the fourth largest Italian city in terms of population.
Since the nineties Turin has experienced a profound transformation, evolving from an industrial city, whose main focus was the production of cars, towards a capital of innovation and creativity. While not giving up its historical industrial soul, Turin has diversified its economic base and city landscape. New infrastructures and buildings emerged, and the cultural offers, ranging from museums, contemporary art, sites and monuments, to major events and industrial tourism, are shaping the socio-cultural and socio-economic substance of the city. Today, with its 7,104 square miles of green areas as well as its ongoing conservation and developing projects, Turin has also become the most eco-friendly and ‘green’ city in Italy.
The idea of a contemporary City of Turin is clearly driven by an urban regeneration programme that includes the active involvement of citizens and associate stakeholders. Aiming at building a strong link between the local community and its city neighbourhood, Turin is implementing and promoting several social and cultural actions directed at sustainable, intelligent and inclusive urban growth.
WeGovNow offers the municipality a way in which to make participation in urban redevelopment processes easier for citizens. It is also a means with which to collect information from citizens while, at the same time, getting them involved and empowering them as actors of urban change. In Turin, the WeGovNow online engagement platform supports the collaboration between city authorities and citizens with a key focus on the following topics:
Visit the Turin platform here.
Located on the bank of the Piave River, with its almost 42,000 inhabitants San Donà di Piave is the third largest town in the province of Venice, Veneto in Northern Italy. Comprising the surrounding towns, the population of the larger urban area is approximately 100,000.
After recovering from the devastating impact of World War I, San Donà is a new city in terms of infrastructure, architectural patrimony and socio-economic substance. Today, the municipality’s strongest economy resources include commerce, small and medium-sized enterprises and agriculture.
San Donà di Piave is further part of the Metropolitan City of Venice, an administrative unit that has been developed as a result of a reform of local authorities. It includes a large core city and the smaller surrounding towns that are closely related to it with regard to economic activities and essential public services, as well as to cultural relations and to territorial features, that form its metropolitan area. San Donà is also involved in a wider process of integrated planning of social policies involving 20 municipalities and more than 215,000 citizens.
The municipality of San Donà di Piave envisions a participative approach that allows both citizens and local businesses to meet their needs, becoming at the same time active agents of and for the community. Recently adopted regeneration policies and initiatives aim at facilitating a closer relationship between the needs of the population, the overall quality of life of people, and the economic development of the city. In San Donà, the WeGovNow online engagement platform is then considered to constructively supplement and emend the introduced measures. Following this, the main thematic foci for which the WeGovNow platform is utilised in San Donà are:
Visit the San Donà pilot platform here.
Southwark is one of the thirty two boroughs of the City of London and is made up of eight very distinctive neighbourhoods that extend along the river Thames down into South East London. Founded in 880 by King Alfred, Southwark is London’s most historic borough, encompassing some of London’s top attractions, creative hotspots, scenic villages and acclaimed green spaces such as Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Tate Modern art gallery and the famous Borough Market.
It is categorised as both an ‘Inner London’ and ‘Central London’ borough and as such features many of the characteristics of urban, inner city areas including high population density, ethnic diversity, and significant contrasts of wealth and poverty. Although Southwark is the tenth smallest borough in London, it has the tenth largest population with over 300,000 people. In that way, the London borough of Southwark is the ninth most densely populated area in England and Wales and its population is expected to continue to grow further in the next years.
In Southwark, the WeGovNow platform is used to test more current and efficient methods of engagement with its residents, aiming at reaching a wider audience and becoming more representative of its community. During the piloting phase of the project, the London Borough of Southwark explores the WeGovNow platform for the following core purposes:
Visit the Southwark pilot platform here.
Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini (FGB) is a European Think-and-Do-Tank operating since 1971 devoted to the design, delivery and intelligence for social change in the fields of labour market, economic development and social policy. FGB is a not for profit organisation with headquarters in Rome and offices in Milan, Brussels, Barcelona, Bucharest and New York. Our fields of expertise are welfare and social policies, local growth and development, urban regeneration, human capital and labour market, knowledge and sharing economy, technology transfer and internationalisation, social innovation and social entrepreneurship. Since 2012 FGB is committed to supporting the emergence and development of local ecosystems for innovation and their connection to transactional level, helping to create in Italy places for the innovation and developing networks and platforms for the exchange of knowledge, technologies and talents. In Turin, FGB the Open Innovation Centre, an open and social innovation hub dedicated to test and scale new solutions to public service delivery and citizens engagement.
FGB leads the WeGovNow dissemination activities, that will be an important part of the project in order to achieve the largest possible impact in Europe to increase public awareness on the fundamental issues both in the ICT and public service domains that WeGovNow addresses. The main dissemination strategy objective is spreading progress and results, disseminating information and knowledge to communicate the benefits of this project to the professional media, to the target service beneficiaries, to people working in this area, to policy decision makers and to other interested stakeholders. The communication will be oriented towards the needs of the various audiences, using appropriate language and information levels.