The convergence of Cloud, Big Dataand AI has caused considerable transformations across governments, with citizens demanding quick, seamless and personalised services in the public sector. Decision makers need to embrace new innovative technologies to make more sustainable policies based on real-time information, predicted impact and citizen input. These new technologies and data open up exciting possibilities for collaboration, co-creation and consultation with citizens.
In this direction, the Data Driven Policy Cluster released a Joint Policy Brief regarding “Co-Creation and Stakeholder Engagement for Evidence Based Policymaking”, written by Fabio Perossini (DECIDO), Pavel Kogut (DUET), Jerónimo Arenas (IntelComp), Alessandro Amicone (AI4PublicPolicy) and Marieke Willems (Policy Cloud). The Joint Policy Brief derived from the “Stakeholder Engagement Track” of the Evidence Based Policymaking in Europe Summit 2021, which explored how new technologies and tools can be used for engagement and innovative collaboration between policy makers and citizens.
To address the challenge and allow for real and effective evidence-based policy making, the Data Driven Policy Cluster projects adopt the following approaches:
- • DECIDO: DECIDO project prioritises data usability against their simple availability, proposing a co-creation pathway based on experts listeninginstead of teaching, supporting fluidity in processes and adaptation to citizens’ needs. In DECIDO, three pillars for innovative citizen engagement are experimented in the Turin pilot, introducing them to a Simplified Policy lifecycle management methodology with the support of EOSC services for privacy issues, content management and other cloud services.
- • AI4PublicPolicy: AI4PublicPolicy project is a joint effort of policymakers and Cloud/AI experts to unveil AI’s potential for automated, transparent and citizen-centric development of public policies, with citizens and businesses engagement being one of the main pillars. The project is implemented using a co-creation methodology and a participatory design approach that involves all relevant stakeholders, to ensure the citizen-centric nature of the open Virtualized Policy Management Environment (VPME) that provides fully-fledged policy development/management functionalities, based on AI technologies with emphasis on the realization of citizen-oriented feedback loops. In selected cases (e.g., in the scope of the project’s pilots in Athens, Genova, Nicosia, Lisbon and Burgas) the project also provides incentives for citizens’ participation in the process.
- • DUET: DUET project allows for stakeholder engagement in the context of network oriented Local Digital Twins (LDTs), where citizens can review, tweak and propose alternatives to original plans. This strengthens the actual link between government and civil society, leading to better governance and democratic outcomes for everyone. DUET’s platform can be accessed by anyone to see the impact of road closures on traffic and pollution in nearby streets (Pilsen), to find green routes for recreation and walking (Athens), or to understand how pollution levels, both air and noise, change according to traffic volumes (Ghent).
- • Policy Cloud: Policy Cloud project improves the modelling, creation andimplementation of public and business policies, delivering an integrated environment of curated datasets, and data management, manipulation, and analysis tools. Policy Cloud runs four pilot use cases in four different EU countries, covering different fields and serving as demonstrators for data-driven policy management. The models and tools developed in these different contexts and sectors are applied in heterogeneous environments and settings, demonstrating their reusability via a co-creative process, based on the Design Thinking methodology.
- • IntelComp: IntelComp project builds a cloud platform that offers text mining tools for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policies, ensuring that policies are created with people and not just for people. With that aim, IntelComp adopts a Living Labs methodology, embracing a two-fold co-creation approach with citizens (i) to co-design and co-create an IntelComp tool for citizens (the Citizen Viewer), jointly revising user requirements and improving the developed tool in an iterative manner to make the results easy to use and actionable to the users and (ii) to refine and validate this cutting-edge tool through the co-creation of policies with citizens via participatory processes in three different domains: Artificial Intelligence, Climate Change/Blue Economy and Health/Cancer.
In the process of adopting new technologies and tools for innovative collaboration between policy makers and citizens, the biggest challenge seems to be cultural and not technical. To this end, the Data Driven Policy Cluster projects developed some recommendations to overcome this cultural challenge, that are summarised in the Joint Policy Brief as follows:
- 1. Be open and try to adapt to what is needed from the citizen’s point of view.
- 2. Listen to what citizens want and not force them to do something that they are not used to. Have “fluidity”, flexibility, and be open to a continuously changing approach, instead of adopting structured ways and approaches to issues.
- 3. Develop trust, high engagement levels and find a way to keep this relationship open.
- 4. Use role play training or serious gaming capacity building techniques, to test these options, understand how to talk with the stakeholders and how to reward them, in order to have the best engagement.