I’m always interested in metaGovernment. That’s not where a politician chats on Twitter or does broadcast YouTube videos or widgets for fund raising – but where voters are asked to make a difference to their own country other than donating or voting.
Elected officials set aside $11 million taxpayer dollars to build the most popular proposals in each of the city’s nine wards. What better way to end interminable debates and remove the decision from political wrangling: let the people decide.
This is real eGovernment or The Social Network as Government.
The winners would receive funding from the total pool of $11 million in available funds. The project built upon the city’s grassroots-driven participatory budgeting program, which has allowed citizens to allocate resources through participatory decision-making since 1993. During a 42-day voting period, registered voters could log on and vote for one project in each ward, as well as post comments in an Internet forum. In order to maximize availability of the voting system, the city established 178 voting points around the city, including a mobile unit consisting of a bus with Internet access and carried out an extensive public relations campaign.
After voting closed, 172,938 people had registered votes in the system, 9.98% of the city’s registered voters. (Voter registration is mandatory for adults) The forum received 1,210 posts. Peixoto’s paper compared the average number of votes per capita from each district and the average income per capita, and found there was no relationship between the two. Sadly, the case study does not discuss the nature of the public works projects, the nature of the winners, or evaluate whether the government actually followed through and built them. (The results seem to include parks and sports facilities.) (more at Sustainable Cities Collective)
So perhaps instead of Australian Idol and Big Brother voting, we could have City Idol? Government Idol? Integrate a SBS or ABC TV show with a voting system online. Cross Media Government. I always thought there were better, more educational ways to use heritage broadcast media such as television…
(Hat Tip Ari Herzog from Twitter)