Open-EU: Opening Europe to evidence-based decision making

Open-EU: Opening Europe to evidence-based decision making

Information is power. 

The EU invests considerable time, energy and funding in gathering vital data from member states for improved decision making. Under OMC and INSPIRE this data is made open to the public and is available to citizens. However, the current national and European data portals do not provide the information in formats and styles that would be useful for citizens and society to access. As a result value-added uses of EU data are lost, the opportunities for engaging citizens in policy developments and decision-making, are limited or lost.

At the same time the European Commission has recognised the need to raise information literacy and improve the digital skills of its citizens. An open, accessible, friendly data-rich environment is needed to support this. 

Open-EU would offer this environment - by providing (in a specific policy area) 

i) examples of good practices, 
ii) case studies of interaction with policy makers, 
iii) resources supporting citizen groups and civil society to use the information and 
iv) open data in a useful and usable format

we believe greater transparency and interaction will result. This will shift the power balance from decision makers towards citizens and enable deeper more profound interactions over important decisions being faced in (and beyond) Europe.

We have been working on a pilot of this - called YouthMetre (http://www.youthmetre.eu). It is forward looking pilot project empowering young people to engage with policy makers and public authorities making decisions on youth policy expenditure (at European, national, regional and local levels). The purpose is to support citizen advocacy through evidence-based decision making as "information is power"!

The YouthMetre will be launched in Brussels, at the Committee of Regions in February 2017. It's concept can be applied across different policy domains such as telecoms, environment or energy, at different scales (local, national, international) and in different regions - for instance the tools could be developed with neighbourhood regions in mind (such as EuroMed) as long as data is collected and good practices can be identified and shared.

 

Comments

Pateikė Fie Hørbye Jacobsen Pen, 11/11/2016 - 16:34

Thank you for the contribution, Karl.

Your project looks very interesting. And it is very much in line with the principles of 'inclusiveness & accessibility' and 'openness & transparency' outlined in the eGovernment Action Plan. Easily accessible data is indeed an important tool for citizen advocacy. The challenge, however, is to mobilise the citizens to engage and make their voice heard. How do we, in your opinion, overcome this challenge? And does 'Youthmeter' support this?

In reply to by Fie Hørbye Jacobsen

Pateikė Karl DONERT Tre, 01/03/2017 - 19:55

Hi Fie Hørbye

Thanks for the comments and questions - I'll try to answer you and offer the 10 areas where I think the eGovernment initiative could help this.

YouthMetre is a Forward Looking project (started just 12 months ago) to prove the concept that information is power - and so by sharing information, power and influence can also be shared.

We believe we are proving the concept but need support under the eGovernment Action Plan, to scale it up and fill some gaps!

The main issue we believed was to get the tool right for the target group. So, to do this, we have created a YouthMetre tool to access open data (for youth, about youth) and good practices on Youth (as identified by the EC) - the tool was designed collectively with groups of young people around Europe - who are now our advocates (so far from 16 countries) - see http://www.youthmetre.eu/youthmetre.and also see the story map of the Study Groups / countries http://youthmetre.eu/study-groups/ .... these groups in turn are now developing their ideas and "projects" which will be presented to their local and regional authorities. Innovative non-formal learning approaches were used.

So we proved the concept that we can get information and data available to citizens in a user friendly, multi-platform format - by working closely with user groups. We also created videos for help and support on how to access and use the data.

Then we need to train the users to help them make use of information and develop their own ideas and then advocate them. The first training event took place last month with some of the members of the Study Groups to pilot the training resources. Then we will finalise the materials in the coming months and make them available online as open education resources. They are designed to use non-formal methods / approaches and can be adapted for use with different groups / targets - they ought to be translated in all languages but this is not in our budget.

Our ongoing challenges for YouthMetre, where we need support can be summarised in a 10 point plan (as far as we see them) are:
1. We need to have a multi-lingual European platform - where discussion on the policies people want can take place = can you help us with this? We already approached existing sites like Debating Europe - but they do not seem to be interested, as they have not yet responded! This would be an online meeting place - for young people - it would allow them to develop their needs into concrete, evidence-based ideas. I envisage something like the EU Schools portal (developed by European Schoolnet) - which has Cloud-based tools and project spaces - we have excellent contacts who could develop this with us ... (we were initiators of an education network called School on the Cloud which explored the use of Cloud Computing tools for education)
2. We are working with the company that hosts the data and maps (ESRI) - as an NGO we get this for free - so far! With our support and encouragement ESRI just pledged free licences for schools in Europe at the Digital Jobs and Skills launch in Brussels in December - we are proud to have done this and have them involved .... it will be worth many millions of euros. I would like the Commission to support us by promoting this action/initiative further - we already met people from different DGs about it - so we made the Commission quite widely aware of it - any further publicity could in turn encourage the company to invest even more resources - note a few months ago, ESRI organised a GIS in EU conference as the Commission already uses their state of the art tools for forecasting and planning and data hosting, sharing across many DGs!
3. I think that the engaging citizens is not the problem - as the youngsters we work with have already become the multipliers and several are now organising their own "projects" with their friends and with the local authorities - they have now been trained to use and further develop the resources (in their own languages) - we want to extend this training to all countries and to other target audiences. i.e. to make what we have done multi-lingual and possibly have national events / champions - like in other areas (Digital Agenda for instance). Or else we use existing champions to make it happen. Maybe you can arrange this with us?
4. We have just launched a YouthMetre YouTube channel and a blog (see the Web site for access) and hope you like the stories the young people produced .... with EC support we could mirror this in different countries ... languages ... could you help us promote this channel and encourage others to share their visions? They were made by young people for young people. Looking to get more of these visions and needs.
5. we need to get local and regional governments involved - they say they want to engage with citizens, but the reality is not many actually really want to do it = so we are now searching for some champions and will develop case examplars with them over the coming 12 months - we also are working with the Committee of Regions and Council of Europe on this ... but we need help to push the regions to share what they are doing / and thus by sharing the good other regions could identify what they might be doing.
6. we created an award for the best regions in Europe in terms of our Youth Development Index (Youth Well-Being) - it was won in 2017 by Utrecht and West London - these awards were presented to them last month at the Committee of Regions in Brussels - with MEPs, the EC and representatives of many other European agencies present - maybe the EC could recognise them in some even more formal way? Also we would like to do this regularly ... have an bi-annual award. But also we need to find ways to work with those regions who obviously have the most challenges (lowest Youth Development Index) - we need to support them helping them to connect with their citizens
7. we want to make available some resources / tools for the regions to encourage them to engage with citizens - i.e. to advise them, give support and provide good examples and reasons to engage.
8. We'd like to encourage in schools a (geo-) information literacy (education) campaign to help young citizens access and use such open data themselves and bring further added value to the work of agencies like Eurostat and Eurobarometer and eGovernments at different scales. Could be an entrepreneurial action, and similar to the "Coding" initiative. We actually don't need so many programmers, but we need lots of people with information skills - how to make use of the open information. This I believe necessitates European action as national / regional governments are by and large slow to implement this and it they say it takes 7-10 years to change curricula .... we are starting to work with a few "early adopter" countries.
9. We have experimented a bit with crowdmapping with the youngsters ... but as described earlier we need to create a platform where interactions can take place - so a consensus can be reached of what they want to propose to their authorities = as I said we tried to connect to existing platforms (EC and others) so far without response!! But we could integrate crowdmapping into the platform.
10. we identified the need for an online place where local and regional authorities can share the great things many of them are doing - so we could develop best practices maps for them where they can provide data and links to their projects ... but getting support from the Commission would help us to get the regions to give us the data / info on what they are doing - the EC also need to continue to collect and publish good practices

The advantages of the YouthMetre approach is that it could work at any scale (from house - street - region - country - whole EU) the the maps are interactive.
We plan to employ Storymapping to allow people to tell their stories https://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/

We could mirror what we have done for issues like health, environment, migration, transport, our ocean and of course also for regions and boundaries like the Meditterranean, Alps, Baltic and so on ....

Let me know if you need more info - also happy to meet and discuss

Professor Karl Donert
President EUROGEO
eurogeomail@yahoo.co.uk