Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Open Governmental Data for Scientific Research on ICT-Enabled Governance

Current Status: the struggling scientific approaches for ICT-Enabled Governance

Information and Communication Technologies have an unprecedented potential to improve the responsiveness of governments to the needs of citizens and have long been recognized as a key strategic tool to enable reforms in the public sector. During the last years, this potential of ICT has started to be dealt with in a multi-disciplinary way, engaging social sciences, complex systems theory or advanced modelling and simulation, giving birth to new research communities dealing with governance and policy modelling , public administration information systems , digital government or open, second-generation government .

However, this potential is to this day non-systematically exploited, as there are significant barriers that hinder the effective exploration, management and distribution of the vast amounts of available public sector information towards the research communities (e.g. operational data, financial performance data, process-related information, indices and metrics, key performance indicators, tacit knowledge). Furthermore, there is a shortage of experimental methods and tools that would allow effective knowledge mining, visualization or further computation, empowering the integration of information and communication technologies into government practices and their adoption by the public. In the context of governance, multiple aspects have to be taken into account (e.g. financial, social, political, administrative, legal), indicating that in order to make administrative transformation a success, a multi-disciplinary approach has to be adopted, as opposed to the sole use of ICT.

Outlook: new, open-linked data systems serving the research communities

The research communities needs new, advanced service infrastructures, incorporating distributed and diverse public sector information resources as well as data curation, semantic annotation and visualization tools, capable of supporting scientific collaboration and governance-related research from multi-disciplinary scientific communities, while also empowering the deployment of open governmental data towards citizens.

Such research infrastructures are envisaged to promote a highly synergetic approach to governance research, by providing the ground for experimentation to actors from both ICT and non-ICT related disciplines and scientific communities, as well as by ensuring that the scientific outcomes are made accessible to the citizens, so that they can monitor public service delivery and influence the decision making process.

Such new research infrastructures should aim to:

• Create an open service platform, integrating large amounts of public sector data, processing tools and resources, in support of the research communities dealing with governance and policy modelling, complex systems simulation, public administration transformation, government 2.0, information and communication technologies, future internet and social sciences.

• Engage citizens into the public service delivery decision making process, by providing accurate information on the operation, cost and overall value of public services, through user-friendly visualization tools, thus being in the forefront of emerging Open Data initiatives in Europe and the world.

• Explore synergies with current e-Infrastructure service providers so as to leverage on existing grid and cloud services for storing, processing and providing large amounts of public sector information.

• Contribute to the evolving standardisation for open and linked governmental data, consolidating various approaches for harmonization, annotation, pre-processing, anonymisation, interoperability and provision of data, from public sector administrations at national, regional or local levels, towards scientists and citizens.

• Empower and engage researchers and actors from non-ICT related disciplines, such as political science, economics, law, sociology, statistics, etc. in experimental research relating to solving complex problems of high importance for the society.

Then, a new, significant step towards evidence-based, experimental ICT-enabled governance research will have been realised ...

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