In order to prepare the discussion for the workshop on collaborative e-government, from today I am presenting on a daily basis the key results of our work.

The first issue deals with the definition of collaborative e-government.

When dealing with emerging trends, definition is not a basic formality but a fundamental goal of the research. In particular, the notion of “collaboration” is so wide that it could even encompass traditional online services where forms are filled directly by citizens.

In this case, the typical narrative is that while traditional government produces the data and builds services on top of them, collaborative e-government is typically considered when third parties build “cool app” on top of open government data.

Our definition goes beyond this. We define as collaborative e-government any public service that is electronically provided by citizens, NGOs, private companies and individual civil servants, in collaboration or not with government institutions, based on government or citizens-generated data. In other words, this definition includes government-provided services built on top of citizens-generated data.

This definition spells out the 2 architectural components of collaborative e-government: the data production and the service provision. As illustrated in Table 1, we include in this definition services that are based on both citizens and government generated data; and that are delivered by government, citizens, or private organisations.

We originally considered that excluded from this definition were services produced by government based on government data (the first cell top left), but we then corrected this in order to include mash-up and services built informally by individual civil servants. It is in fact now widely recognized that the web not only unleashes the creativity of individual amateurs, but also of employees, which are considered the main source of innovation for organisations.

Table 1: the visual definition of collaborative e-government

Service provider

 

Data source

Government Civil society (citizens and NGOs) Third party players
Government Civil servant’s innovation Apps and visualisations Private-public partnershipsCommercial apps
Citizens Crowdsourcing Self-help and collaboration Crowdsourcing

Furthermore, we start to provide an empirical definition of these cells, from crowdsourcing to self-help, from partnerships to apps and visualisation.

Finally, we consider collaborative e-government alongside the typical dimension of service: design, implement, evaluate. With regard to design, we refer for example to the crowdsourcing of ideas implemented through services such as ideascale.com; with implementation, we refer to the actual provision of services, such as the provision of transport information by Google Transit; with evaluation, we refer for example to the visualisation of government spending such as openspending.org. We consider that collaboration can happen at any of these stages.

Clearly these definition do not simplify, but rather complexify. But they provide the limits of the playing field and set the scene for further analysis.

Tomorrow we will rather focus on “what is new” about collaborative e-government with respect to traditional third party service provision.