“Co-construction” in Deliberative Democracy: Lessons from the French Citizens’ Convention for Climate


Paper by L.G. Giraudet et al: “Launched in 2019, the French Citizens’ Convention for Climate (CCC) tasked 150 randomly-chosen citizens with proposing fair and effective measures to fight climate change. This was to be fulfilled through an “innovative co-construction procedure,” involving some unspecified external input alongside that from the citizens. Did inputs from the steering bodies undermine the citizens’ accountability for the output? Did co-construction help the output resonate with the general public, as is expected from a citizens’ assembly? To answer these questions, we build on our unique experience in observing the CCC proceedings and documenting them with qualitative and quantitative data. We find that the steering bodies’ input, albeit significant, did not impair the citizens’ agency, creativity and freedom of choice. While succeeding in creating consensus among the citizens who were involved, this co-constructive approach however failed to generate significant support among the broader public. These results call for a strengthening of the commitment structure that determines how follow-up on the proposals from a citizens’ assembly should be conducted…(More)”.

Systems thinking for civil servants


UK Gov: “The guidance is intended for civil servants working all over government, regardless of grade, department, background or profession.

The documents include:

  • an introduction to systems thinking, a short summary of what systems thinking is, when it is useful and why it can be beneficial to your work
  • the systems thinking journey, which expands on the content within the introduction to systems thinking and maps 5 systems thinking principles to different stages of the policy design process
  • the systems thinking toolkit, which contains step-by-step instructions on how to use 11 systems thinking tools
  • the systems thinking case study bank, which contains a collection of 14 personal testimonials from civil servants on their experiences of using systems thinking in their work

This suite of documents aims to act as a springboard into systems thinking for civil servants unfamiliar with this approach. We introduce a small sample of systems thinking concepts and tools, chosen due to their accessibility and alignment to civil service policy development, but which is by no means comprehensive. We hope this acts as a first step towards using systems thinking approaches to solve complex problems and we strongly encourage the reader to go on to explore the wider systems thinking field further. These documents are ‘beta versions’ which we hope to update in the future in response to user feedback….(More)”.

Can politicians and citizens deliberate together? Evidence from a local deliberative mini-public


Paper by Kimmo Grönlund, Kaisa Herne, Maija Jäske, and Mikko Värttö: “In a deliberative mini-public, a representative number of citizens receive information and discuss given policy topics in facilitated small groups. Typically, mini-publics are most effective politically and can have the most impact on policy-making when they are connected to democratic decision-making processes. Theorists have put forward possible mechanisms that may enhance this linkage, one of which is involving politicians within mini-publics with citizens. However, although much research to date has focussed on mini-publics with many citizen participants, there is little analysis of mini-publics with politicians as coparticipants. In this study, we ask how involving politicians in mini-publics influences both participating citizens’ opinions and citizens’ and politicians’ perceptions of the quality of the mini-public deliberations. We organised an online mini-public, together with the City of Turku, Finland, on the topic of transport planning. The participants (n = 171) were recruited from a random sample and discussed the topic in facilitated small groups (n = 21). Pre- and postdeliberation surveys were collected. The effect of politicians on mini-publics was studied using an experimental intervention: in half of the groups, local politicians (two per group) participated, whereas in the other half, citizens deliberated among themselves. Although we found that the participating citizens’ opinions changed, no trace of differences between the two treatment groups was reported. We conclude that politicians, at least when they are in a clear minority in the deliberating small groups, can deliberate with citizens without negatively affecting internal inclusion and the quality of deliberation within mini-publics….(More)”.

GDPR and the Lost Generation of Innovative Apps


Paper by Rebecca Janßen, Reinhold Kesler, Michael E. Kummer & Joel Waldfogel: “Using data on 4.1 million apps at the Google Play Store from 2016 to 2019, we document that GDPR induced the exit of about a third of available apps; and in the quarters following implementation, entry of new apps fell by half. We estimate a structural model of demand and entry in the app market. Comparing long-run equilibria with and without GDPR, we find that GDPR reduces consumer surplus and aggregate app usage by about a third. Whatever the privacy benefits of GDPR, they come at substantial costs in foregone innovation…(More)”.

The power of data: how Helsinki is improving citizens’ lives


WEF Blog: “New technologies, such as artificial intelligence, internet of things and the metaverse, demand data as the foundational resource for solving systemic challenges, from pandemic response to climate change. Yet despite an abundance of both supply and demand, the evolution from data to insight still presents many challenges.

On the one hand, data often remains siloed within territorial boundaries and corporate environments and is unavailable to benefit people, society and the planet. On the other, the type of governance needed to assure proper oversight, transparency and accountability by those using data is still being understood.

As the data universe expands, it becomes exponentially more complex, requiring solutions that integrate political, economic, social, environmental, technological and, most importantly, human aspects…

Through its partnership with the City of Helsinki, the Forum has convened a global community of technologists, anthropologists and policy and data experts to develop data policy that serves the general public and meets their expectations…(More)”.

Helsinki process to understand the power of data

Digital Constitutionalism in Europe: Reframing Rights and Powers in the Algorithmic Society


Book by Giovanni De Gregorio: “This book is about rights and powers in the digital age. It is an attempt to reframe the role of constitutional democracies in the algorithmic society. By focusing on the European constitutional framework as a lodestar, this book examines the rise and consolidation of digital constitutionalism as a reaction to digital capitalism. The primary goal is to examine how European digital constitutionalism can protect fundamental rights and democratic values against the charm of digital liberalism and the challenges raised by platform powers. Firstly, this book investigates the reasons leading to the development of digital constitutionalism in Europe. Secondly, it provides a normative framework analysing to what extent European constitutionalism provides an architecture to protect rights and limit the exercise of unaccountable powers in the algorithmic society….(More)”.

Under Construction: Citizen Participation in the European Union


Paper by Dominik Hierlemann: “Four out of five European citizens want to have a bigger say in EU policymaking. Already now, they can participate in the European Union through elections, citizens’ initiatives, consultations, petitions, dialogues, and the Ombudsman. But how well do these participation instruments work? Do citizens know about them? What is their impact on EU policymaking? This study examines seven EU participation instruments in depth. It finds that the EU offers a patchwork of participation instruments that work well in some respects but remain largely unknown and create little impact. To strengthen the voice of European citizens, the EU should move from its participation patchwork to a coherent participation infrastructure. Voting every five years is not enough. A democratically accountable and legitimate EU depends on the ongoing and effective participation of citizens…(More)”.

European Health Union: A European Health Data Space for people and science


Press Release: “Today, the European Commission launched the European Health Data Space (EHDS), one of the central building blocks of a strong European Health Union. The EHDS will help the EU to achieve a quantum leap forward in the way healthcare is provided to people across Europe. It will empower people to control and utilise their health data in their home country or in other Member States. It fosters a genuine single market for digital health services and products. And it offers a consistent, trustworthy and efficient framework to use health data for research, innovation, policy-making and regulatory activities, while ensuring full compliance with the EU’s high data protection standards…

Putting people in control of their own health data, in their country and cross-border

  • Thanks to the EHDS, people will have immediate, and easy access to the data in electronic form, free of charge. They can easily share these data with other health professionals in and across Member States to improve health care delivery. Citizens will be in full control of their data and will be able to add information, rectify wrong data, restrict access to others and obtain information on how their data are used and for which purpose.
  • Member States will ensure that patient summaries, ePrescriptions, images and image reports, laboratory results, discharge reports are issued and accepted in a common European format.
  • Interoperability and security will become mandatory requirements. Manufacturers of electronic health record systems will need to certify compliance with these standards.
  • To ensure that citizens’ rights are safeguarded, all Member States have to appoint digital health authorities. These authorities will participate in the cross-border digital infrastructure (MyHealth@EU) that will support patients to share their data across borders.

Improving the use of health data for research, innovation and policymaking

  • The EHDS creates a strong legal framework for the use of health data for research, innovation, public health, policy-making and regulatory purposes. Under strict conditions, researchers, innovators, public institutions or industry will have access to large amounts of high-quality health data, crucial to develop life-saving treatments, vaccines or medical devices and ensuring better access to healthcare and more resilient health systems.  
  • The access to such data by researchers, companies or institutions will require a permit from a health data access body, to be set up in all Member States. Access will only be granted if the requested data is used for specific purposesin closed, secure environments and without revealing the identity of the individual. It is also strictly prohibited to use the data for decisions, which are detrimental to citizens such as designing harmful products or services or increasing an insurance premium.
  • The health data access bodies will be connected to the new decentralised EU-infrastructure for secondary use (HealthData@EU) which will be set up to support cross-border projects…(More)”

How does research data generate societal impact?


Blog by Eric Jensen and Mark Reed: “Managing data isn’t exciting and it can feel like a hassle to deposit data at the end of a project, when you want to focus on publishing your findings.

But if you want your research to have impact, paying attention to data could make a big difference, according to new research we published recently in the journal PLOS ONE.

We analysed case studies from the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise in 2014 to show how data analysis and curation can generate benefits for policy and practice, and sought to understand the pathways through which data typically leads to impact. In this series of blog posts we will unpack this research and show you how you can manage your data for impact.

We were commissioned by the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) to investigate how research data contributes to demonstrable non-academic benefits to society from research, drawing on existing impact case studies from the REF. We then analyzed case studies from the Australian Research Council (ARC) Engagement and Impact Assessment 2018, a similar exercise to the UK’s…

The most prevalent type of research data-driven impact was benefits for professional practice (45% UK; 44% Australia).

This category of impact includes changing the ways professionals operate and improving the quality of products or services through better methods, technologies, and responses to issues through better understanding. It also includes changing organisational culture and improving workplace productivity or outcomes.

Government impacts were the next most prevalent category identified in this research (21% UK; 20% Australia).

These impacts include the introduction of new policies and changes to existing policies, as well as

  • reducing the cost to deliver government services
  • enhancing the effectiveness or efficiency of government services and operations
  • more efficient government planning

Other relatively common types of research data-driven impacts were economic impact (13% UK; 14% Australia) and public health impacts (10% UK; 8% Australia)…(More)”.

Democratic Progress in the 21st Century


Blog by the “Democratic Progress” Task force: “There appears to be distrust between citizens and governing officials at all levels, from local municipalities to regional and even national governments. The rapid transformation brought about by digital technologies, from the way we work to where we work, is instilling anxiety and uncertainty in the minds of our population. The fact is that the “business models” and way of doing business has shifted for all, whether you are in government, corporate, and even academia.

Despite their best efforts to innovate and embrace this transformation, the operational systems and processes in place are inefficient and ineffective in doing so, resulting in the digital divide. This divide just increases fear and uncertainty, leading to governments relying on populist views to garner votes, further polarizing rather than uniting nations. 

New democratic forms and institutions, in general, can help liberal democracies overcome the challenges highlighted. We will need to build more collaborations, partnerships, and dialogues with a range of stakeholders (SDG17 SDG16 SDG8) so that we may consider more viewpoints on a number of levels and embrace this transition collectively.

This is where the potential of digital ecosystems (communities), which are primarily represented by coworking spaces, creative hubs, and youth centres, are critical platforms for enabling this shift becomes important. The creation of an enabling environment in which diverse stakeholders (government, corporate, academia, and civil society) can collaborate to accelerate social tech entrepreneurs and digital technologies while holding open and inclusive dialogues about social challenges, cultural, and democratic experiences would be a key focus for this.

The Conference on the Future of Europe has taken a significant step in this direction; now we must bring together and elevate the voices of our citizens and digital ecosystem players to ensure that we create an inclusive and enabling environment that embraces citizens’ needs in the digital transformation and closes the digital divide. The goal of these platforms is to facilitate true contact between citizens and decision-makers, which will aid in the resolution of social issues and the restoration of confidence in our society…(More)”