Evaluating Digital Citizen Engagement

Worldbank/DEET: “With growing demand for transparency, accountability and citizen participation in policy making and service provision, engagement between citizens and government, as well as with donors and the private sector that deliver government services, is increasingly important.1 Within this, the rapid proliferation of digital tools is opening up a new era of Digital Citizen Engagement (DCE). Initiatives such as online participatory budgeting, SMS voting and the use of handheld digital devices for beneficiary feedback are growing in use. Increased use of technology brings both opportunities and challenges to citizen engagement processes, including opportunities for collecting, analyzing and evaluating data about these processes.

This guide offers a means of assessing the extent to which digital tools have contributed to citizen engagement2 and to help understand the impacts—positive or negative, intended or unintended—that the introduction of technology has had on the engagement processes. It addresses specific questions: Does adding digital technology to the citizen engagement process really provide quicker, cheaper, easier ways for citizens to engage with the state or other service providers? Can digital technologies lower interaction costs for governments and deliver improved, more targeted development outcomes? What risks come with this new technology—have certain citizens been excluded (intentionally or unintentionally) from the engagement process? Has the way in which people engage and communicate altered, for better or for worse? Has the technology affected the previously existing groups and institutions that were intermediating engagement processes before the technology was introduced? The guide is designed to help people understand when the use of DCE is appropriate and under what circumstances, how to use it more effectively and what to expect from its use. It introduces the key issues relating to Digital Citizen Engagement and offers advice and guidance on how to evaluate it— including methods, indicators, challenges and course corrections that apply to the digital aspect of citizen engagement….(More)”