The way I approach the problem of envisaging innovative egov20 applications is to look for incremental innovation.
a) I start looking at the best project that I know that leverage individuals’ collaboration for public goals.
b) Then I try to look at what “next steps” could be made to make these services better.
c) Often, it turns out these are just minor improvements which do not need research, but “just” code. Therefore, I filter out the results on the basis of their innovativeness.

This is not a scientific method, it’s a made-up way to give a structure to the process. I am sure it can be improved.
But most of all, I know nobody can to this by oneself. It needs an open discussion. We need to involve technology experts from different fields together with public policy experts, and engage in OPEN discussions. Each of us has its view, and because of the different field of expertise, often we are unable to talk to each other and advance the debate. That’s the reason for this debate, which hopefully you can follow not only on this blog but on metaaggregator such as the technorati tag feeds for egov2research, which is of course still empty at the time of writing .

So, here are some of the best projects I know to engage the wider public in public governance:
• Collaboration in Patent review: Peertopatent , not only because it uses the input from individual citizens, but most importantly, collaborative filtering tools.
Debategraph, which enables the tree-shaped structuring of a large-scale conversation, and the relation to the evidence to support each claim
• Tools for enlarging the policy debate to a wider public: OFCOM discussion on regulation of BBC; the discussion tool used for the GNU free documentation license
• The BBC white spectrum tool, used to visualize comments of a sensitive debate held on the blog
• Farmsubsidy now geographically locates each recipient of agricultural subsidy (starting from Sweden)
Gapminder, and similar tools to play with public data and to make them more meaningful
• All of mysociety.org projects, but now I am a particularly interested in fixmystreet and planningalerts

Overall, the continuous rate of new applications launched clearly shows the huge innovation potential, and the opportunity to invest in this.

Investing in these tools has therefore a high potential impact in two directions (the so-called “double dividend”):
– on the quality of debate and the level of citizens’ engagement.
– in the innovativeness of the ICT applications developed: for example GapMinder software was built for analyzing demographic data of the UN, and it has then been bought by Google to improve its “Google spreadsheet” software.

In the next posts, I will try to imagine how these applications could look like in 5 years if research is carried out.

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