Headlines: April 19th, 2006

There is to be a major international symposium to share knowledge and expertise on the growing convergence between e-Government, Social Inclusion and e-Participation. More than 500 senior officials from local and central government in this country will join representatives from over 70 countries for the event this summer. Organisations that will attend include the United Nations, the European Commission and the Council of Europe.In an effort to ensure international input from every level of government and from all key sectors, the Symposium will take place in both Budapest in Hungary from July 26th to 28th and in the United States, where Baltimore will host delegates from August 2nd to 4th. The sessions in Budapest will set out the debate around the critical challenges that stakeholders face as they attempt to deliver the full potential of e-government. In Baltimore the discussion will move on to explore new and emerging e-applications. The USA pioneered the art of online campaigning but is now facing the challenge of translating these tools into inclusive governance.

UK participation in the Symposium is being led by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister which says local e-Government is moving to the next stage of its journey by focusing attention on e-Participation and the use of technology to engage and empower citizens effectively. It believes that e-Government strategies have delivered the infrastructure to deliver transactional services but that the next step involves using technology to enhance and facilitate engagement for citizens in their everyday lives. The opportunity to use emerging systems is being explored in the UK and overseas and the ODPM says the Symposium will be an opportunity for officials, experts, academics and practitioners to assess the best way forward to benefit everyone.

Local e-Government Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick said, “The Symposium meetings will be major events, where policymakers and practitioners from around the world will get together in shaping a new policy agenda.” The ODPM’s participation will include leading workshops on the status of the UK Digital Challenge and promoting social inclusion via e-Participation. It will also be involved in the international showcasing of new e-Participation solutions such as the VOICE toolkit, a new suite of easy-to-use interactive tools for creating and developing e-communities. The kit includes e-participation, e-consultation and website publishing tools.

The UK is currently ranked first by the United Nations Global e-Participation Index and was recently placed at number one globally in e-Participation in an index prepared by the World Economic Forum.