Saturday, December 14, 2013

Visit to Georgia, talking on eGovernment reform and interoperability

At the end of November 2013 I visited Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, invited by the Ministry of Justice to talk on Government Interoperability issues at the National ICT conference.  
GITI 2013  (Georgian ICT Development and Cyber Security Event) was held in Sheraton Hotel in Tbilisi, gathering a nice mix of local officials, ICT companies and international eGov experts. My presention was about interoperability issues in Governments, especially prescribing the strategy and contents for a National Interoperability Framework in Georgia. You can see my presentation here.

Georgia is a country with a rich history and tradition, located between Caucasus moutain and the black sea.

Two parts of the country (see map), namely South Ossetia and Abkhazia,  are under Russian control, since the latest military disputes in 1991 and 2008.

One can still see reminiscents of the 2008 bombings of military bases, in the mountains outside Tbilisi.

File:Tbilisi sunset-6.jpg
Tbilisi at sunset

Outside Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. Mtskheta

During my stay I also had the chance to meet and collaborate with the Greek Embassy (very energetic) commercial attache, who had the courtesy to introduce me to some representatives of the local business community. 

Then, with my local taxi driver (who had previously spent a couple of years in Greece and could speek Greek quite well) we managed to visit some places in Tbilisi and the old capital outside Tbilisi. 

The Georgian National Museum is certainly a place to get the key facts about the country's history.  Among other exhibitions, the museum also hosts the Museum of Soviet Occupation, providing facts for the sometimes extremely harsh period between 1921 and 1991.

Mtskheta, the old capital, viewed from the monastery of the Cross
Mtskheta, te capital of the country until 17th century,  is a well preserved and partially restored old city dating several centuries ago, located a few miles to the north of Tbilisi.  the most important place to see is the UNESCO-accredited complex of the old city and the prestigious cathedral, dating back to 13th century.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Changing the way policies are designed, decided and enforced…

an interview with NOMAD Coordinator Prof. Yannis Charalabidis

Dr. Yannis Charalabidis is Ass. Professor in the University of the Aegean, in the area of eGovernance Information Systems, coordinating policy making, research and pilot application projects for governments and enterprises worldwide. A computer engineer with a PhD in complex information systems, he has been employed for several years as an executive director in Singular IT Group, leading software development and company expansion in Europe, India and the US. He writes and teaches on Government Service Systems, Enterprise Interoperability, Government Transformation and Citizen Participation.

Could you please tell us a few words about the FP 7 subject area of the Nomad Project?
NOMAD is a research project under the area of “ICT for Governance and Policy Modelling”, which addresses the challenges of empowerment of citizens and increase transparency through the utilization of ICT tools to support decision-making. The key research question of this theme, paving the wave to Digital Science, is how ICT can transform governance and policy making combining crowdsourcing techniques with data mining functionalities and advanced methods of modeling and simulation, with the objective of achieving open and collaborative governance.

What is the 2013 Samos summit?
The project has recently co-organized the fourth “Samos 2013 Summit onDigital Innovation for Government, Business and Society”, which was held in the island of Samos in Greece, on July 1 – 5, 2013.  During the Summit, in which more than 100 high caliber research, administrations and enterprises experts from 20 countries have participated, new actions and guidelines for ICT in the context of the Digital Agenda and the new Framework Programme HORIZON 2020 were presented. In addition, more than 15 international research projects, among them NOMAD, showcased their proposals and shared ideas for new online services and tools for policy-making and e-participation.
NOMAD had also the chance to exchange ideas with younger members of the research community, the students of the 1st International Summer School on Open and Collaborative Governance held in conjunction with the Samos 2013 Summit, to whom project tutorials were provided.

Can you please describe Nomad in a few and simple words?
The project aims to introduce into the policy-making process an array of new techniques and opportunities emerging through the massive use of the social web. Therefore, it will deliver to decision-makers a comprehensive environment for content search, acquisition, classification and visualization that will enable them understand citizens’ opinion, arguments and needs as expressed in Web 2.0 and affect their policy-making agenda. NOMAD’s vision can be summarized in “changing the way policies are designed, decided and enforced”. To achieve this, NOMAD develops an innovative toolset employing techniques on data and opinion mining and the AI/ philosophy concerning the conceptual representation of policies and the argumentation theories.

Why is such a project interesting for the Aegean University?
AEGEAN University is a research organization with high expertise in Policy Modeling, Data Mining, Evaluation Models and in general in the ICT-enabled governance area. Therefore, is

interested in accumulating and expanding the knowledge that will stem from the project through academic work and as well, disseminating NOMAD results in the scientific community


Are there many RTD projects around use of social media in policy-making, what is the specificity of Nomad?
There are some other projects that exploit the power of Social Media in the policy-making arena, for example PADGETS, WeGov, +Spaces, FUPOL etc. However, what differentiates NOMAD from is what is called “non-moderated crowdsourcing”, meaning that it searches on the Web places where users have been expressed without any stimulation and collects massive amounts of data. In addition content retrieved is correlated with specific components of policy proposal as depicted in the policy model that the NOMAD user authors.

What do you consider as a break-through innovation in the development of the project so far?
NOMAD, has so far released the first prototypes of the innovative tools that are going to be integrated in the final platform, among them the Model Authoring tool, for creating policy models in an easy and intuitive way, a technique for processing and annotation of arguments expressed in Social Web.

Who do you think the end users will be?
Two policy institutions and one NGO are already involved as end users in the pilot applications of NOMAD, i.e. the Greek Parliament, the Austrian Parliament and the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EACCI). Apart from policy makers and policy advisors, which consist the core target group of NOMAD, a plenty of groups have been identified as potential users that can benefit from the usage of the NOMAD tools, such as journalists, researchers, business analysts, representatives of NGOs, federations and associations. However, NOMAD will be an easy to use system, available for every citizen who is interested in searching and analyzing the Social Web against a specific topic.

The link between new technologies and freedom of expression are important avenues for promoting democracy. Are there risks on the right to freely express one-self emanating from such a project?
NOMAD and other relevant projects, processing content expressed freely on Web do it in and aggregated way and preserve users’ anonymity, so that they comply on privacy specifications laid down by the competent authorities. As soon as the identity of sources of content is hidden, there is no risk on biasing freedom of expression.

Read the full NOMAD Newsletter here:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Napoleon Tic Tac Toe: A new mobile and web based board game

Tic-tac-toe (or Noughts and crosses, Xs and Os) is a paper-and-pencil game for two players, who take turns marking the spaces in a 3×3 grid. The player who succeeds in placing three respective marks in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row wins the game.  An early variant of Tic-tac-toe was played in the Roman Empire, around the first century BC. It was called Terni Lapilli and instead of having any number of pieces, each player only had three, thus they had to move them around to empty spaces to keep playing. The game's grid markings have been found chalked all over Rome. Other sources state that tic-tac-toe could originate back to ancient Egypt. During the years, the original 3X3 tic-tac-toe evolved into more complex and challenging variations, such as Gomoku and Renju.

A renju board
Gomoku is a more complicated version of tic-tac-toe: also called Gobang or Five in a Row, it is traditionally played with Go pieces (black and white stones) on a go board with 19x19 intersections; however, because once placed, pieces are not moved or removed from the board, gomoku may also be played as a paper and pencil game. This game is known in several countries under different names. Black plays first, and players alternate in placing a stone of their color on an empty intersection. The winner is the first player to get an unbroken row of five stones horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.  

Renju is the professional variant of Gomoku, a strategy board game originating in Japan from the Heian period. It was named Renju by Japanese journalist Ruikou Kuroiwa on December 6, 1899 in a Japanese newspaper Yorozu chouhou. The game is played with black and white stones on a 15×15 gridded Go board. Renju eliminates the "Perfect Win" situation in Gomoku by adding special conditions for the first player - it is actually a Gomoku with extra regulations and winning conditions / apart from just making five-in-a-row.

The Napoleon Tic-Tac-Toe game
This year, a team and company of friends in Greece, designed and launced the Napoleon Tic-Tac-Toe game.  Napoleon can be seen as a Gomoku enhancement with a simple rule: the game does not end when a player makes 5-in-a-row but continues until the board is covered, scoring several points for 3-in-a-row, 4-in-a-row, 5-in-a-row and so on.  This way, the winner is the one with the most points.  Then, the game can be played in 9x9, 19X19 or other dimensions of boards, resulting in infinite complexity variations.

I first played this "n-tic-tac-toe" variation with paper and pencil, several years ago and realised the intellectual challenge that it poses, turning an "instant kill" game like Gomoku into a game of "deeper strategy", especially in larger boards.  So, I enjoyed playing the electronic, well-designed, version for web browsers and mobile phones.  If one tries the professional 19X19 version against the computer, she will realise that Napoleon can be very demanding and fun.

You can play the Napoleon game for free at:  

Visit to STFC and Oxford University in UK

It was a nice week, at the beginning of October 2013, invested in visiting Oxford area and London UK.  It started by a two day working meeting of the ENGAGE open data project, in beautiful and very quiet Abington in Oxfordshire.  The ENGAGE project aims at developing a scond-generation open data portal, focusing at multilinguality, metadata interoperability, social network and reputation management, as well as new processes for supporting open data and linked data needs declaration. 

STFC facilities at RAL
The Science and Technology Facilities Council (in short STFC) is one of Europe’s largest multidisciplinary research organisations, with more than 1500 staff, 900 PhD researchers and thousands of scientists and engineers. STFC was formed in April 2007, following a merger between the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Centre (PPARC) and the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC).  Highights at STFC in Oxfordshire certainly are the particle physics and laser laboratories, at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory RAL, a place that is worth to try visiting when in the area.

A view of the campus at Oxford
Then, I spent a couple of days in Oxford University, visiting several colleges, the library and the Department of Computer Science. Oxford University is a very nice place to be, as it is more of "a city around a university than a a university within a city".  Houses, restaurants and other public places look like filling in the gaps among university buildings and estates.  Some facts that helped me understand the importance of persistence in education excellence, as perceived by students, faculty and supporters, are:
  • There are 38 colleges in Oxford, the first of them founded as early as the 13th century. There are over 22,000 students at Oxford, including 11,832 undergraduates and 9,857 postgraduates studying in more than 70 departments and faculties.   More than that, every year there are more than 15,000 enrolments on courses offered by the Department for Continuing Education, making Oxford University one of the largest providers of continuing education in the UK. 
  • Oxford is very competitive: over 17,200 people applied for around 3,500 undergraduate places for entry in 2012.  That means that only one out of five applicants gets a position at Oxford (the highest rate in UK), which of course can became more difficult in some of the colleges.
  • The Bodleian Library, the University’s main research library, dates from 1602 and is globally acknowledged to be one of the greatest libraries in the world. Its priceless collections include the papers of seven British Prime Ministers; a Gutenberg Bible; the earliest surviving book written wholly in English; a quarter of the world’s original copies of the Magna Carta; and almost 10,000 western medieval and renaissance manuscripts.  In my visit, I had the chance to see original manuscripts of alchemists, such as the famous George Ripley scrolls.

I also had the chance to visit the Computer Science Department, where friend Professor Jim Davies kindly hosted me - discussing current teaching and research activities, comparing practices between projects and loboratories, and laying out some new, visionary ideas for the future. 

With Prof. Jim Davies, at Oxford Computer Science department
The Fender line in a Denmark Street store
After Oxfordshire, London during the weekend seemed a very busy place to be.  Thanks to some friends though, staying there for a couple of days was fun. Among things to remember was a visit to Denmark street, London's music market - where you get the chance to see and, carefully, put your hands on some very special vintage guitars.  Although I did not manage to find a quite rare set of strings for my electroacoustic (3 nylon and 3 wound strings - but not classical), walking, seeing, testing guitars and amps was real fun. Finally I got myself a book for song-writting, and some rare books on indian scales and guitar styles.

The only other area that was really new for me in London was Canary Wharf, the area in East London by Thames River that used to be the Docklands, and now is the heart of financial and other similar services provision in UK. Unfortunately, no green land and quiet places there (as opposed to Oxfordshire): just asphalt, paved roads, cement only - extremely clean though. 

View of the Canary Wharf skyline (360 degrees)

Monday, June 24, 2013

PADGETS project newsletter - June 2013



The objective of PADGETS is to implement a prototype service for policy makers that utilizes social media technologies and techniques to boost public engagement, enable cross-platform publishing, content tracking and provide decision support. Through the PADGETS platform, policy makers are capable of disseminating their policy messages through multiple social media simultaneously, using a single integrated interface. They are able to reach large user groups in these platforms and collect their feedback, by keeping track of and analysing users’ reactions to the policy message.
A video presenting PADGETS platform is now available online.


Pilot experimentations of the PADGETS concepts and operations have been carried out in Italy, Slovenia and Greece. Each piloting action has been constructed around a specific topic of primary interest for end users and decision makers. The scope of the pilots is to evaluate the concept of Policy Gadget (Padget) as innovative tool for leveraging the group knowledge produced over Social Media platforms inside policy making processes. An overview of the pilots per country is presented as follows:
PADGETS Pilot in Italy, with the support of the Piedmont Region
The pilot is focused on allowing local administration policy makers to gather and analyse citizens’ responses to the planned regional implementation of telemedicine in Piedmont Region.
PADGETS Pilot in Slovenia, with the support of the Centre for eGovernance Development
Pilot campaigns run in Slovenia and are focused on: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, Media Freedom, Corruption, Cooperative Society, Tax Fraud, European year of Citizens and Tender Puch Europe Publishment. PADGETS is used by the Slovenian Members of the European Parliament to publish information related to the above campaigns and track citizens’ opinions.
PADGETS Pilot in Greece
Three Pilot campaigns run in Greece:
§  A PADGETS campaign concerning policies to exploit Wind Power as an alternative and renewable energy source;

§  A PADGETS campaign concerning the Financial Crisis in the Southern European Countries. The “South In Talk” campaign is organized in cooperation with policy makers and institutions from other Southern European Countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal);

§  A PADGETS campaign concerning Women Entrepreneurship. The scope is to come up with a proposition on how the EU directive on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies should be implemented in Greece.

PADGETS Platform and Tools available
PADGETS policy making and modelling platform is available and is accessible here! The platform empowers policy makers to initiate a policy campaign and disseminate their policy messages through multiple social media simultaneously by only using a single integrated interface.
PADGETS MOBILE App and PADGETS WEB App are now available in PADGETS website.

For evaluating PADGETS Application take the survey! It only takes a few minutes.

PADGETS in the top-10 Policy Making 2.0 applications worldwide
The PADGETS project was nominated among the 10 best Policy - Making 2.0 applications, in the international competition organised by the CROSSOVER project and presented at the International Conference on Policy Making 2.0 in Dublin, June 17 and 18, 2013.
The competition targeted policy-making 2.0 applications making the best use of technology to improve the design, delivery and evaluation of Government policy, with a focus on implementation that can show a real impact on policy making, either in terms of better policy or wider participation.
The policy-making 2.0 technologies showcased by the competing applications included:
§  Open and big data
§  Visual analytics
§  Modelling and simulation
§  Collaborative governance and crowdsourcing
§  Serious gaming
§  Opinion mining

PADGETS combines social networking interoperability, social media analytics, opinion minining and simulation techniques, to enable policy makers in managing on-line campaigns towards reaching justified decisions. Cizens participate in various modes and forms with the assistance of web based and mobile applications, that support several types of behaviour.
PADGETS at a new book on electronic participation and urban crowdsourcing.
A new book on goverance innovation has been announced by IGI Global, edited by Carlos Nunes Silva, from University of Lisbon. The book will be made available in June 2013."Citizen E-Participation in Urban Governance Crowdsourcing and Collaborative Creativity " explores the nature of the new challenges confronting citizens and local governments in the field of urban governance.
This comprehensive reference source explores the role that Web 2.0 technologies play in promoting citizen participation and empowerment in the city government and is intended for scholars, researchers, students, and practitioners in the field of urban studies, urban planning, political science, public administration. Topics covered by the various sections include crowdsourcing, e-democracy, e-participation, geographic information management, open source in urban governance and more.
In this book Enrico Ferro and Michele Osella (Istituto Superiore Mario Boella), Euripidis Loukis and Yannis Charalabidis (University of the Aegean), have contributed the chapter on social media policy making, consolidating and reflecting upon the project experiences in Italy:
“Policy Gadgets for Urban Governance in the Era of Social Computing: An Italian Pilot on Telemedicine”.
The book is to be made available by IGI and global electronic retailers in June 2013.
For more information click here!
Forthcoming Publications
§   Enrico Ferro, Euripidis Loukis, Yannis Charalabidis, Michele Osella, “Policy Making 2.0: From Theory to Practice”, Government Information Quarterly
§   Enrico Ferro, Euripidis Loukis, Yannis Charalabidis, Michele Osella, “Evaluating Complex Forms of Social Media Use in Government”, 19th Americas Conference on Information Systems – Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 2013

Samos 2013 Summit on Digital Innovation for Government, Business and Society, Samos, Greece, July 1-5, 2013
The 4th Samos Summit on Digital Innovation for Government, Business and Society will be held in Samos, Greece on July 1 – 5, 2013 and is co-organised by the University of Aegean, the Greek Interoperability Centre of the National Technical University of Athens, the ENGAGE eInfrastructures project on Open Data, the NOMAD and PADGETS projects on Social Media policy making (co-funded by the European Commission).It offers an unprecedented opportunity to see, interact with and influence cutting-edge European ICT research projects and initiatives. Attended by high caliber experts from research, administrations and enterprises, the Samos 2013 Summit focuses on the newest developments of Information and Communication Technologies and innovative applications in the context of the public and private sector.
Main topics of the Samos 2013 Summit include:
§   Policy modeling
§   Collaborative Governance
§   Collective awareness platforms
§   Big, Open and Linked Data
§   Complex societal problem solving
§   Digital enterprise and Factory of the Future
§   Digital youth entrepreneurship
§   Horizon 2020 programme

This year, Samos Summit will also include the 1st International Summer School on Open and Collaborative Governance which offers the possibility to younger members of the research community to enjoy tutorials, project workshops and experts panels on how ICT transforms governance and policy making.
For more information click here!

PADGETS has participated in many events, workshops and conferences and made presentations (including conferences presentations, demonstrations etc.) during the last months of the project lifetime. An indicative list of these can be found below:
§   Conference, Centre for eGovernance Development, Bled, Slovenia, March 29-30, 2012
§  Workshop “Decision Support Systems for Policy Makers”, Torino, Italy, April 12, 2012
§   SMAU BUSINESS ROMA : Smau Roma 2012 Mobile App Camp, Rome, Italy, April 21, 2012
§   Social Media Week Panel, Conference, Torino, Italy, September 28, 2012
§   Conference PA 140 organized by the Piedmont Regional Council (centered on new forms of Government 2.0 enabled by the systematic exploitation of Social Media), Torino, Italy March 7, 2013
§   Conference: FP7 Egovernance and policy Modeling projects, Sheffield, UK, January 27, 2012
§   Samos 2012 Summit on “Open Data and Interoperability for Governance, Industry and Society”, Samos, Greece, July 2-6, 2012
§   Workshop: policy making 2.0, Sheffield, UK, April 1, 2012
§   Workshop: Digital Literacy, skills and inclusion, Seville, Spain, May 3, 2012
§   Workshop: Digital Literacy, skills and inclusion, Seville, Spain, September 6, 2012
§   Workshop: Digital Literacy, skills and inclusion, Granada, Spain, May 29, 2013
§   Transforming Government Workshop 2013 (tGov2013), London, UK, April 22-23, 2013
§   Project presentation during Net-Eucen workshop on sustainable urban mobility, Rome, Italy, April 24, 2012
§   Project presentation within Enel ( internal tutorial on Social Media Marketing, Cagliari, Florence and Rome (Italy), April 17, 19 and 20, 2012
§   Project presentation at IT-SA exhibition, Nuremberg, Germany, December 16-18, 2012
§   Project presentation at Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, March 29, 2013

Samos 2012 Participants, outside Karlovassi Town Hall.
Michael Netter (UREG) at IT-SA Exhibition

§  Netter, M. , Riesner, M. , Weber, M. Pernul, G. (2013), "Privacy Settings in Online Social Networks-Preferences, Perception, and Reality", Proc of the 46th Hawaii International Conference on System Science (HICSS), Maui, Hawaii, USA
§  Riesner, M. , Netter, M. Pernul, G. (2013), "Analyzing Settings for Social Identity Management on Social Networking Sites: Classification, Current State, and Proposed Developments", Information Security Technical Report , 17, 4, Elsevier
§  Netter, M. , Hassan, S. Pernul, G., "An Autonomous Social Web Privacy Infrastructure with Context-Aware Access Control", 9th International Conference on Trust, Privacy & Security in Digital Business (TrustBus 2012), Vienna, Austria, 4-6 Sept. 2012
§  Riesner, M. , Netter, M. Pernul, G., "An Analysis of Implemented and Desirable Settings for Identity Management on Social Networking Sites", 7th International Conference on Availability, Reliability and Security (ARES 2012), University of Economics, Prague, Czech Republic, August 20th - 24th, 2012
§  Netter, M. (2012), "Conceptualizing Transparency on Online Social Networks", Tiny Transactions on Computer Science (TinyToCS) , 1
§  Netter, M. , Herbst, S. Pernul, G. (2013), "Interdisciplinary Impact Analysis of Privacy in Social Networks", Altshuler, Y., Elovici, Y., Cremers, A., Aharony, N. Pentland, A. (eds.) Security and Privacy in Social Networks, Springer
§  Loukis, E., Charalabidis, Y., Diamantopoulou, V. (2012), “Different Digital Moderated and non-Moderated Mechanisms for Public Participation”, European Mediterranean Conference on Information Systems (EMCIS) 2012, 7-8 June 2012, Munich, Germany
§  Charalabidis, Y., Loukis, E., Androutsopoulou, A. (2012), “A System Dynamics Approach for Complex Government Policy Design - Application in ICT Diffusion”, 9th International Conference on Modeling, Simulation and Visualization Methods (MSV'12), July 16-19, 2012, USA
§  Charalabidis, Y., Loukis, E. (2012), “Participative Public Policy Making Through Multiple Social Media Platforms Utilization”, International Journal of Electronic Government Research (SCOPUS), Vol. 8, No 3, pp. 78-97
§  Charalabidis, Y., Loukis, E. (2012), “Towards New Web 2.0 Based Multi-Channel Approaches to e-Participation”, Yogesh Dwivedi (Ed) ‘Transformational Government through eGov: Socio-economic, Cultural, and Technological issues’, Emerald Publications
§  Charalabidis, Y., Kleinfeld, R., Loukis, E. (2012), “Towards a Rationalisation of Social Media Exploitation in Government Policy-Making Processes”, European Journal of ePractice (sponsored by the European Commission), Nº 16, June/July 2012, pp. 77-93

To download the publications click here!

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©2013 PADGETS Newsletter | Project co-funded by the European Commission under the FP7 Programme