How Can Digital Transformation Drive Participatory Democracy

How Can Digital Transformation Drive Participatory Democracy

6 min read >

Digital Transformation & Insights

We live in a world and age where digital transformation is slowly finding its way into all areas of society. For democracy, this innovative concept brings along great opportunities, but also enormous governance challenges. Virtually, all components of our lives are touched by the impact of these disruptive technologies, which are rapidly reshaping the way citizens work, live, and communicate.

The extent to which corporations, public institutions, and governments are already using data is astonishing, while the usage of digital transformation is set to alter the global economy and the balance of power between states, markets, and civil society. The benefits brought by digital transformation are reshaping the geopolitical and societal orders in ways researchers are only beginning to examine.

In this article, we’re aiming to dive deeper into the public sector’s digital transformation and assess how digital transformation initiatives can drive participatory democracy and how they are already empowering citizens to improve and fulfill their lives.

Today’s Context of Digital Transformation in Participatory Democracy

Through participatory democracy, ordinary citizens are encouraged, engaged, and empowered to have a word in the European Union policies and debate topics that are relevant to them (e.g. health, climate change, migration, values & rights, economy, education, and culture). This concept is growing roots across the globe but it seems to be strongest in Europe and North America.

For example, the European Commission has recently launched the “Conference on the Future of Europe” platform, a tool that aims to reinforce democracy through technology. This platform promotes digitally-enabled civic engagements, empowering European citizens to make their voices heard, interact with each other, and work together in order to shape the future of Europe. 

This project, which was created with the help of Tremend’s engineers, aims to support EU citizens in debating Europe’s challenges and priorities and to find solutions to arising issues that might appear in the European space through an electronic, democratic, and transparent process. European citizens who log into the platform can make their voices heard by creating and attending events, but also by sharing their ideas in a secure environment. Citizens can debate EU policies or come up with policy ideas on topics such as health, climate change, economy, social justice, rule of law, migration, or youth and sport. The conference feedback is then gathered and reported on with concrete recommendations so that the Joint Presidency can act on it, each within its own sphere of competencies and in accordance with the existing treaties.

Tremend’s active role as an ICT provider has enabled our team to deliver a vast range of projects in the public sector, including high-end software solutions such as EPALE, Graphomaly , HumanoID, and the European Digital Skills and Jobs Platform.

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, countries have turned to digital technologies in their emergency response to control the outbreak. Surveillance technology is being used to locate people with symptoms and monitor the spread of the disease. At the same time, the mass surveillance systems deployed as part of the Covid-19 response have triggered concerns related to personal privacy and civil liberties on a global scale. 

Tremend’s solutions go through a thorough Quality and Security Assurance process. They are always built with respect to the best industry and European Commission practices in regard to data privacy and security.

How does Technology Make Participatory Democracy Grow & Expand?

In the wake of the pandemic, governments need to pay particular attention to their citizens’ needs. The reason for this is that their fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of movement, are diminished in response to the spread of COVID-19. Today, more than ever before, citizens are expressing their will over the internet to debate and are willing to participate in the decision-making process. Fortunately, this can now be accomplished through electronic democracy (e-democracy).

E-democracy (a combination of the words electronic and democracy) incorporates 21st-century information and communications technology to promote and implement democratic principles. This term involves a form of government in which all adult citizens are eligible to participate equally in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. 

The effective engagement of citizens by governments relies on people’s access to information as a basic precondition, but it also relies on public consultation and feedback regarding the policy-making process. Thus, the relationship between the governing bodies and the population is seen as a bi-directional partnership. The tools and features offered by ICTs can provide a whole new level of assistance to governments, enabling them to give a more dynamic voice to their citizens and improve the feedback quality, which could be distorted otherwise.

The ICT sector offers powerful tools for selecting, integrating, and aggregating the vast amounts of information held by the public administration, and presenting the results in a form that can be readily used by individual citizens and public institutions. A wide range of public bodies at various levels is now exploring the use of new ICTs to engage citizens in policy-making: from local governments to national governments and parliaments as well as those operating at the intergovernmental or international level.

Short Info on e-Governance

e-Governance represents the application of ICTs for delivering governmental services to businesses, citizens, and other governments. This powerful term integrates all actions performed by the global and local governments to make certain services available to individuals and companies.

e-Governance benefits citizens in several ways. First off, e-Governance initiatives offer speedier solutions to citizens’ problems, creating a two-way communication channel between citizens and public authorities. Second, it gives citizens enhanced access to their resources by utilizing enhanced technologies. Last but not least, all e-Governance initiatives focus on improving the transparency between citizens and governments.

Driving Digital Transformation

The increasing use of ICT tools has yielded positive impacts in today’s society with respect to participation in the decision-making process which directly affects the lives and livelihoods of citizens. With e-democracy, personalized platforms can help build trust by engaging citizens in the policy process and promoting open and responsible governance. Basically, platforms such as the Conference on the Future of Europe can ensure transparency in government action and accountability of public spending, while enabling citizens to have a strong say in how their homelands are governed.

Technology is definitely here to stay, and digital transformation will continue to enable public institutions and governments to drive participatory democracy to a whole new level. Of course, it all begins with a dedicated team of software engineers that can tackle complex software solutions and that have a proven track record of turning them into great success stories. 
If you need help with any type of public sector digital transformation project, do not hesitate to contact us.

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