EDEN: Electronic Democracy European Network

01/02/2001 - 01/02/2004

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The EDEN project grew out of the rationale that online information on decision-making leads to greater transparency in governance, as a pre-requisite for online consultation and participation.

EDEN deployed capabilities in computational linguistics, expressed in Natural Language Processing (NLP) modules that provided the building blocks of a web-based 'toolkit'. Integrated into the existing technical and social infrastructure represented by the participating city administrations' websites, its purpose was to address certain techno-political issues that are commonly used as the basis of 'e-democracy' experiments. Citizens in most European states are often seen as disconnected from the administrations that govern them, or participate in the politics of planning decisions only when 'options' have already become 'facts'. This may be partly attributed to the remoteness and opacity of decision-making and the incomprehensibility of related planning documents.

The assumed infrastructure for e-democracy on the other hand is one in which public investment in city-wide Intranets or civic networks holds the promise of near ubiquitous access from home, public terminals or mobile handsets. Access, it is hoped, for purposes that include making enquiries, having these responded to competently, and engaging in conversations on issues identified by others interested in planning. So in broad terms the needs for EDEN were articulated in terms of improvements in access, comprehension, and navigation of decision-making procedures that allow citizens to influence planning. These were thought to lead to greater participation in planning and acceptance of the process by the 'ordinary citizen'. Evaluating the toolkit involved investigating whether and how these benefits were realised.

ITC collaborated with the research partners in each city to establish what was wanted from the EDEN toolkit. We used a hybrid of Soft Systems Methodology and Scenario-based methods.

More about the EDEN project

The EDEN work was continued in the HANDS project -Helping Answers Decision Service.
EDEN: Electronic Democracy European Network is a EU Framework Programmes project funded by CEC Framework V IST Programme. Carried out in collaboration with Municipality of Bologna, Bremen City Council, City Hall of Nisko, Vienna City, Osvaldo Piacentini Archive, Omega Generation, Public Voice Lab, Telepolis Antwerpen, University of Bremen,Yana Research and others. For further information please refer to http://itc.napier.ac.uk/ITC/projectSummaries.asp#Project3.
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Project Team

Professor Ann Macintosh
(not currently an institute member)
Dr Angus Whyte
(not currently an institute member)

Associated Publications