It’s a beautiful day in Sydney and I am packing my bags for TicTec – The Impacts of Civic Technology conference in Florence, Italy.
I’ve been following the work of My Society since I first heard of them about eight years ago, and their TicTec events for the last two years. The speaker line up and schedule for this year’s event looks amazing and I am excited to be included in this year’s program.
Below is my successful abstract which outlines what I will be talking about in my session:
Engagement is an activity that generates information and relationships. Governments need to effectively manage these relationships if democracy is to be participatory and the information gathered from citizens through engagement needs to be considered or utilised if democracy is to be truly representative. This is the sweet sauce of genuinely open, transparent and accountable government.
When it comes to selecting technology for engagement, the focus of the industry is on participation and online engagement. The activity, and how technology can be used to encourage participation in democracy online. And even that isn’t straightforward. There are so many tools for online engagement and digital democracy that it’s hard to make sense of the market and what tool to use when.
This focus is distracting us from the real issue: how governments can use citizen ‘input’ (the data they invite from citizens during engagement on policies, programs and services), and leverage the goodwill of those want to participate in our democracy and communities.
In this session I will argue that this is the most important impact we need to measure when evaluating the effect of technology on democracy. I will share three case studies of how technology is being used across Australia and New Zealand for engagement, and how it has helped contribute to successful and unsuccessful outcomes, including during disaster communications, urban planning and open government initiatives. I will use these case studies to argue that ‘engagetech’, not just online engagement, is critical for representative democracy, and share some insights into how governments in these countries are now designing for digital democracy. This will be the catalyst to workshop ways the international civic tech industry can help.
I’m looking forward to being with peers who are doing similar work to me with governments around the world and discussing ways we can better support each other to maximise our impact. I’m especially excited to see the friends I already know to discuss our current projects, test new ideas, and scope potential collaborations. I also hope to build new relationships with people I haven’t met to see what emerges.
To make the most of this opportunity for engage2’s clients, my team and our peers, I will be live tweeting from @emotivate on Twitter and interviewing speaker’s and attendees. I’ll upload these interviews and share my thoughts about the event in this think-space so they are available to anyone interested. I’m also hoping to capture some case studies about how engagement technologies are enabling public participation is opening up across the world and I’ll be on the lookout for speakers to invite to the EngageTech forums we will be hosting later this year.