Digital policy tools – come on Britain!

On June 17/8, we are co-hosting a conference in Dublin on Policymaking 2.0, where we’ll be highlighting great digital tools for policy making.

Part of the event is a competition for the best digital policy tools – which has already attracted two dozen entries from around the continent.

However, there is not yet a single entry from the UK – not one! Not to play on vulgar nationalism, but surely we can do better than that.

If you have a project or a tool you love (even if it isn’t yours) – answer four simple questions and it might be named one of the best digital policy tools in Europe.

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Published by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.

2 replies on “Digital policy tools – come on Britain!”

  1. Good luck with the conference, and with the competition.

    As you know, I’m a tools and platforms kind of guy, but I’m concerned that this kind of contest celebrates the wrong things. I understand the criteria are centred squarely on real-world effectiveness – and that’s great – but it’s still a contest about tools, rather than projects. I’m sure the winners will be fine examples of the art, but that’s not the aim of open policymaking, and worse, I think it causes problems for those trying to do it better in their own organisations.

    I was talking to a civil servant the other day whose internal client loves to talk to senior politicians about their digital engagement platform, and receives much praise for it, despite the fact that ultimately, the more interesting – less visible – work in that organisation is coming from teams starting to work in new ways, amending their processes, or taking the time to engage people in other places online and offline. In bureaucratic environments, we give gold stars to the wrong things at our peril.

    Perhaps the strongest examples I cite these days are of simple blogs done well, policymaker engagement with citizen forums, or efforts to rewrite policy in simple language and put it in front of new audiences. They won’t win competitions, get invited to conferences, or bask in their bosses’ recognition of the great relationships being developed and insights harvested, but I think that’s where genuine open policymaking is happening. For years people have said ‘it’s not about the tools’, but now I think tool fetishism is becoming actively unhelpful.

    I’ll stop bleating now.

    1. Hi @lesteph
      I agree in general with your comment, but there is a reason for this focus on technology.
      The conference is organised by the Crossover project, and its focus is on ICT research. It is funded by the EU under FP7 – ICT for Governance and Policy Modeling http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/events/cf/ictpd12/item-display.cfm?id=8420
      However, only one of the criteria for the prize rewards “tech innovation”, the others being on uptake and impact.
      We do hope you participate!
      Maybe next year we can organise a prize together on projects?

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