DemocracIT

DemocracIT

DemocracIT

Nowadays, in Greece, there is a vast amount of data which arise from the draft laws public consultation. This type of consultation allows citizens to express their views, suggestions, arguments, or disagreements which are associated with the ongoing legislation. However, the current consultation system and its infrastructure discourage citizens from participating and, moreover, it does not offer policy analysts and shapers the necessary tools to take full advantage of citizens’ participation. Furthermore, there is no direct way to determine the impact of the consultation on drafting the final law.

With DemocracIT project we give power to the people and necessary analytical tools to policy shapers:

Power to the people

What do we achieve?  How?
Encourage citizens’ participation
  • Educational workshops for citizens
  • Rewarding contests for active users
Reinforce the fruitful consultatio Useful tools to
  • Accept/reject and discuss in a structured manner…
  • …on specific parts in the text 
Assess the impact of comments
  • Check if the remarks are integrated in the law…
  • …or not

 

Effective policy making

What do we achieve? How?

Efficient consultation

  • Quick drawing of conclusions
  • Easy and clear problem detection

Smart tools for:

  • analysis and organization of consultation comments…
  • …in a comprehensible and usable manner

Shaping our future 

DemocracIT logo

 

The problem

  

DemocracIT logo

In Greece, citizens express their views, regarding policies and legislations, within the framework of public consultation (PC). PC can be the primary way of citizen participation in the legislative process: in this way, they indicate problems, suggest improvements and defend rights threatened by the legislative process or policy making. By mid-2014, over 440 draft laws had been under PC, but citizen participation was decreased. Why?

  • Public consultation 
    • Started in 2010
    • Over 440 draft laws had been under PC (2014)
    • Low participation that gradually decreases
    • Very short duration (On average: 17 days)
  • Citizens’ opinion. Research has shown that:
    • The perceived value of PC is very high
    • They have difficulty in commenting effectively: unstructured dialogue/annotation
    • They don’t believe that comments are utilized 
  • Analysts’ difficulties
    • There are no analysis tools
    • Difficulties in drawing conclusions

We want to change that and we bring innovation with DemocracIT project. 

The vision

 With DemocracIT project we aim to build a community and a technological information infrastructure which will allow the creative participation and the utilization of the public consultations data, so that:

  • all citizens have user-friendly tools at their disposal in order to substantially contribute to the public consultation process – even after its “official” ending.
  • the impact of citizens’ remarks on the policy making process is increased.
  • the legislator is facilitated with the effective utilization of useful information, which may be “hidden” in the vast amount of comments.
  • the impact of consultations on the legislative process is measured.

DemocracIT aims at the coordinate expression of citizens’ views, regardless of the class or group they belong to. It also aims to highlight citizens’ objections, suggestions and arguments and energize them so that they substantially participate in the conformation of the institutional framework, before the law is formed.

 DemocracIT logo

Who is it for?

DemocracIT addresses:

  • those who produce/plan/form policy. It addresses even more the citizens who want to creatively participate in/contribute to the policy shaping or want to suggest or disagree.
  • those who control the former – journalists, the political opposition and citizens or groups of citizens.
  • those studying the proceedings of the former and their relationships.
  • those interested in reinforcing the development of participatory processes regarding the creation of politics and promoting transparency in public life.

Have a look: DemocracIT demo site in english

What is it?

 

DemocracIT is namely:

  1. An open-source, open-ended collaborative platform for commenting and annotating which allows users to:
    • indicate in the draft law
      • indefinite concepts
      • problematic references to laws
      • legal discrepancies
      • oversized paragraphs incorporating provisions unrelated to each other or to the draft law (lack of transparency)
      • the use of simpler structure and more comprehensible legal concepts
    • in the comments
      • note the arguments for or against a provision
      • express their agreement or disagreement with the arguments
      • respond to other users’ comments in a structured manner
      • continue the discussion after the closure of the consultation round
        • All commenting data of the platform will be freely accessible and usable as public, open data.
        • The commenting process will be encouraged through a gamification approach, so that it is pleasant and interesting for the users.
        • The user interface (Interface & User Experience) will be designed with the greatest user-friendliness.
        • A number of system versions will be implemented in order to converge to a measurably usable and effective platform.
  2. An analysis system of the consultation data which will incorporate (after evaluation) the following functions:
    • detection of topics and sub-topics in the comments of the consultation and grouping of those.
    • detection and visualization (percentage of positive/negative emotion) of basic aspects of the consultation. An aspect of the consultation is defined as a term which seems to be important in users comments, namely one with emotionally charged content.
    • detection and projection of references to specific laws (link to Government Gazette).
    • automatic summarization per article from the whole consultation.
    • identification and comparison of parts of the text between the draft law and the final law.
  • The analysis system architecture will be expandable.
  • The architecture of the visualization will allow for the implementation of a variety of analyses, applications and references on the commenting data and will also allow for the combination of visualizations in workflows. Each workflow will support a different actual demand for the exploitation of the consultation results.
  • For the development of the infrastructure, cutting-edge technology and applied artificial intelligence tools will be used, which have already been utilized in projects similar to DemocracIT, in order to maximize the efficiency of the information flow and to produce practically exploitable knowledge from the unstructured data.
  • The system design will allow for its adaptation and reuse in any form of public or private consultation (and also in other languages).
  • Educational material and documentation/instruction manuals will be created and freely available.
  • In order to strengthen the initial infrastructure, great emphasis will be placed on creating a community of software developers who will be able to further develop the tools and a community of interested experts and citizens. Crowdsourcing procedures will be encouraged for the smooth and efficient operation of the system.
  • The cooperation with already existing equivalent efforts or communities around the world will be pursued and also the communication or interconnection of the system with existing projects (e.g.: opengov.gr, capacity4dev.eu).

 

Partners

 

Our partners in DemocracIT:

Harokopio University

Place Indentity logo

Department of Informatics and Telematics of Harokopio University of Athens

Artificial Intelligence tools, natural language processing, sentiment analysis, data analysis and visualization

Place Identity

Organization, Community activation, Specifications, Case scenarios, Evaluation, Contacts with key people  

Steering Committee:  

  • Athanasia Routzouni - Development Information Service of Ministry of Administrative Reform and e-Governance

  • Christoforos Korakas - Consultant of Business Informatics, Expert on web application for consultations, Knowledge Management, collaboration and transparency on the General Directorate of the European Commission for Development and Co-operation in third countries – EuropeAid, Project Manager of the Capacity4Dev. 

The Future

 

The data collection for the creation of a body of knowledge regarding the public consultation in Greece is part of the future prospects of DemocracIT. Moreover, it can contribute to the writing of the political history of Greece. The use and adoption of DemocracIT can be further expanded to the corresponding public consultations of other countries, to consultations in a transnational or local level or those regarding special issues, or even to “private” consultations.

 

Have a look: DemocracIT demo site in english

 

 

 

Results

Direct Impact: 1800+ Users

You can visit the demo site in english and participate in the legislative process expressing freely your opinion.

We organized and participated to promotional actions and events.

Some of our actions are:

  • The presentation of DemocracIT in the "Member Card" show in the parliament channel.
  • The presentation of the project in the Industry Disruptors Conference.
  • Public bodies have expressed their interest in cooperation between DemocracIT and OpenGov.
  • DemocracIT has been chosen to participate in eDemocracy Conference: In the 6th International e-Democracy Conference where its presentation received great public acceptance.
  • We presented our actions in the "Double Glance" show in ERT SA where we discussed open public consultations and the new possibilities offered by our platform.
  • We participated with great success in the Fosscomm conference.
  • Our work was reported in an article in Kathimerini newspaper.

Moreover, we conducted 3 workshops with the participation of a variety of organizations and a conference in cooperation with the Network for Employment and Social Care, the MUNICIPALITY OF KORYDALLOS and the NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY (NTUA) of Athens. We investigated the “Development of a Participatory Democracy and Politcs  at a Local Level - a contemporary challenge”, also we presented the best practises used in the context of the “we are all citizens” programme, promoting a participatory democracy  via innovative applications. The event was attended by a large number of participants. It is worth mentioning that the students’ participation and their strong interest, contributed to the creation of a productive dialogue.

Have a look: DemocracIT demo site in english 

 

This project was funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the EEA Grants Greek NGO Programme “We are all Citizens”. The Bodossaki Foundation is the Fund Operator of this Programme. The Programme aims to strengthen civil society and enhance the contribution of NGOs to social justice, democracy and sustainable development.

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