What's the problem with ePetitions?

The first session was run by Fraser Henderson (Founder and Director of Particitech) who discussed the issues surrounding e-Petitions.

­­Hey guys and dolls,

Feels like ages since I've been in the right mood to really get into writing again. Sorry about that! I finally found what I was looking for... I was needing some well needed inspiration and the Epic LocalGovCamp Lincoln was certainly the inspirational dosage I needed to get my creative juices running again ;o)­ This event was run by no other than my good twitterati friend and also one of the founding members of "Epic Visionaries" - Mr. Andrew Beeken­

First up is.... The House of Fraser ;o)

­The first session was run by Fraser Henderson (Founder and Director of Particitech) who discussed the issues surrounding e-Petitions. Now I wasn't in this session myself, as I was in the "social networking sites" session (where else would I be ...? hehe ;o) ), but I'm gonna have a go at reporting it based on the twitterstream and my own knowledge on this subject! Haha let's see how well I do ay? But hey before I start, just wanted to share one interesting thought... did you guys know that the cathedral in the Da Vinci Code film is in Lincoln?!? Hehe, well it is, and its pretty wicked guys ;o) You must see it!

So.. what's the problem with e-Petitions...?

Now, I know its kind of funny that everytime we mention e-petitions, our minds go directly to Number 10's e-petition facility. Even when I was in the states attending the Participation Camp, they kept on talking about how wonderful the Number 10 e-petition system was. I guess when we have it, we tend to take things a little bit for granted when the rest of the world is looking at the UK for good practices in online government. Its definitely a great facility and it was interesting to learn from this session of a heartfelt story of Alan Turing "The ­Father of Computer Science". Definitely a positive outcome coming out from Number 10's e-petitions. Watch this video to hear about his story...

Advantages of e-Petitions

It was stated during the session that the advantage of e-petitions is petitions have to be approved and therefore problems can be solved before the petition goes live (via @pezholio) . And it is also believed that local e-petitions can have more impact than national ones (via @pezholio). Though there are some challenges when it comes to localizing e-petitions which primarily includes validating whether or not the person signing the e-petition in fact lives within the local area. Obviously this is vitally important when it comes to "petitions on planning applications, alcohol and gambling licenses or on people" (via @pezholio).

E-Petition Verbs...

Petitions and e-petitions: A few observations...

Upon doing some digging around on the net regarding e-petitions bill that is rumoured to potentially come in April 2010, I found a brilliant article summing up the issues surrounding e-petitions on Paul Evans Local Democracy Blog. I do know Paul personally as I met him earlier this year at the UKGovCamp. He says...

My sources in Westminster tell me that the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill (pdf) (text version) is likely to get royal assent at some point in the autumn and will come into force in May 2010 with guidance potentially in place as early as February 2010.
Without repeating what Paul has mentioned in his blogpost, a few other challenges for e-petitions in local gov will be..
  • Who will manage and moderate ePetitions at the Council? Is it a full time job? (via @surajkika)
  • How do we detect duplicate petitions? (via @pezholio)
  • Is it possible to do e-petitions via Digital TV or Twitter? (via @pezholio)
  • How do we get the e-petitions system embedded into councils (via @davebriggs)
  • What about the issues of 'unsigning' a petition? Does it then become a poll? (via @iancuddy)
  • How do we authenticate? (via @jaducms)
  • Should we validate because local means different things to different people. (@pezholio)
  • User management module is crutial in ePetitions (via @jaducms)

Let's have a look at the four stage model of the processes involved during the life of an individual petition to purely understand how e-petitions might work... You can find the copy of this research by Napier here.

So, the question I guess now is, are we ready for this and will local councils "get it"? Any comments? Links and guides to e-petition:

My Interview with Fraser...


­ Hope this was useful! Liz xxx]]>

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There are 4 responses to “What's the problem with ePetitions?”

  1. Peter Cruickshank Says:

    Hi Liz - interesting write up!

    As the guy who is responsible for the picture I think I need to point out that it was drawn up as part of the EuroPetition project (http://www.europetition.eu), which is being piloted by a number of councils across England.

    More to the point - I think it's important to emphasise that a feature of the Number 10 petitioning system is that it bypasses elected representatives (and it has no legal basis).

    The new requirements being introduced in England that Fraser discusses does build the councillors into the process - arguably reinforcing rather than undermining democracy - something that the diagram tries to capture. This is also a feature of the Bristol and Kingston systems, and the one used at the Scottish Parliament that they were derived from.

    I hope that the next version of the diagram will make more of the feedback that goes back to the people who signed a petition to say what the outcome was.

    Interesting (and good) questions BTW - I'd love to hear how the community thinks they can be answered. The issue of verifying and certifying signatures (and whether it is necessary) will I think increase in importance if people feel that it's worthwile to game the system...

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Liz Azyan Says:

    Hi Peter,
    Thank you for the information and comments! I'm pleased to hear from you and thank you for pointing out the the picture was drawn up as part of the EuroPetition.

    I'm looking forward to see the next version so we could share with the rest of the community and hopefully get more feedback.

    There is so much interesting stuff going on around Euro ePetitions and I'm looking forward to learn more at the eGov conference in Malmo, Sweden in November 09'. Will you be there?

  3. Peter Cruickshank Says:

    Hi Liz

    You're right to say e-Petitioning has got interesting again - lots of discussion coming out of EuroPetition and the new law in England as you've noted. Also, don't forget that the Scottish Parliament published its 10 year review and has said that it will be looking to upgrade its systems (more at http://wp.me/pIkH-jZ)

    I won't be at the main eGov conference in Malmö, but will be around for parts of the pre-conference on 18 November http://bit.ly/1vyJJd "eGovernment Research and Innovation: Empowering Citizens through Government Services across Sectors and Borders" - will you be there? It'll be good to catch up with you, and on your project too.

  4. Liz Azyan Says:

    Hi Peter,
    Thank you for all the links. Actually I'll be presenting at the pre-conference in the parallel session 2. But then, I need to rush off to Barcelona on the 19th to attend the Personal Democracy Forum Europe 09. So please be sure to attend my session! See you in Malmo!


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