19 Oct

Open Policy Making – Policy Making and Open Data Workshop!

Is open data capable of improving political decision making and governance?
Open policy making follows the approach to refine collaborative, evidence-based politics, through applying open data and information technologies. Decision making can become more accurate, transparent and comprehensible.

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On the 10th of November 2016 an open discussion was realised at the Fraunhofer institute FOKUS in Berlin. The European research project Policy Compass and invited speakers from prominent research projects and organisations addressed the workshop to modern policy-makers, SMEs, data journalists and research institutions working on this topic.
More than 35 stakeholders debated with us about how we can shape politics and policy making more efficient and transparent through open data and IT technologies.

All presentations will be made available online in the following days! Stay tuned!

30 Sep

Policy Compass at the Data for Policy Conference!

The Data for Policy conference is an independent initiative to promote interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral discussion between all stakeholders with interest in potentials of Data Science research to enhance government operations and policy-making.

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Policy Compass partners NTUA and CCC presented a scientific publication titled “Policy Compass: Prosperity Indicator-based Accountable Policy Analysis and Evaluation via Open Data Exploitation-Extended Abstract”.

30 Sep

Policy Compass in the Computational Models of Argument (COMMA) Conference!

The International Conference on Computational Models of Argument (COMMA) is a regular forum for presentation and exchange of the latest research results concerning theory and applications of computational argumentation. COMMA topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Formal, semi-formal and informal models for argumentation
  • Dialogue based on argumentation
  • Strategies in argumentation
  • Argumentation and game theory
  • Argumentation and probability
  • Argumentation and narrative
  • Argumentation and computational linguistics
  • Argument mining
  • Analogical argumentation

A publication titled “Formalizing Balancing Arguments” was presented by Policy Compass partner Fraunhofer FOKUS, accompanied by a presentation of a demo prepared through the Policy Compass platform.

30 Sep

Policy Compass at Expertise, evidence and argumentation in the context of public policy-making workshop!

Evidence-based policy-making rests on three pillars that correspond to interlocking phases of the policy-making process. Addressing the relation between evidence, explanation/prediction, and argumentation, the workshop sheded light on how evidence is selected, assessed and presented to support a policy, thus combining communicative, scientific, and political considerations.

Policy Compass partner Fraunhofer FOKUS, represented by Tom Gordon, gave a presentation on the new version of Carneades model of structured argumentation (Version 4), developed in the context of Policy Compass, with better support for cumulative arguments, practical reasoning and multi-criteria decision analysis, applying the insights above, together with web-based software tools using this model to support argument construction, evaluation and visualisation tasks.

30 Sep

Policy Compass at OW2con’16!

Held for the eighth consecutive year, OW2con’16 brought together the OW2 open source community and technology experts, software architects, IT developers, project managers and decision-makers from all around the world.

Policy Compass was presented in the context of OW2con’16 as a service very relevant to the European Data Portal, the portal aiming to become the catalogue of all European public data providing them in all official languages of the European Union.

27 Jun

Policy Compass at DTGS 2016!

The mission of the DTGS Conference was to provide scholars and specialists with a representative platform to discuss contemporary information society development. The Conference addressed various issues of social, political, economic and cultural transformations in the age of digital technologies.

Policy Compass was represented by three partners: ITMO (also among the organisers of the conference), Fraunhofer FOKUS and NTUA.

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Policy Compass organised a project-dedicated workshop, where a platform demo was realised, along with an ITMO pilot presentation. Interesting discussions followed the two presentations, providing important feedback to the Policy Compass consortium.

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In addition, a project-related scientific publication was presented, titled “Digital Transformation: Is Public Sector Following the Enterprise 2.0 Paradigm?“.

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The respective presentation can be found here.

22 Apr

Policy Compass at Central and Eastern European e|Dem and e|Gov Days 2016!

The main theme of this year’s Central and Eastern European e|Dem and e|Gov Days conference (CEEEGOVDays 2016) was to explore how ICT can act as an enabler for transparent and open policy-making process.

The conference aimed to answer questions such as: How can IT contribute to the aforementioned goal? What are the chances and the risks of the use of ICT to promote a European system of Multi-Level eGovernance? What are best practices which could serve as a model for the development of such a system?

This conference addressed public sector practitioners and policy makers, industry professionals and academia alike. The disciplines covered were primarily information sciences, law and administrative science, political science, sociology and economics.

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Policy Compass was represented by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and presented a scientific publication titled “A New Indicator of Social Welfare: A Citizen Centered and Open Data Oriented Approach“.

You may find the respective presentation here.

29 Feb

Blog Post #08 – Prosperity Indicators: What, Why, How

A bit of history

As (Innes & Booher, 2000, p.173) claim “Indicators and performance measures have become an important element in policy initiatives relating to sustainability and to the re-invention of government”. The idea of employing quantitative indicators in order to evaluate policy implementation goes back to the ‘40s, when the US economy was being evaluated in terms of the Monthly Economic Indicators (Wong, 2006, p.1ff). The idea of exploiting social indicators and developing a theory for defining, using, combining and interpreting them, passed from the US Administration to the large international organisations such as the United Nations (UN, Social and Economic Council) and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).

The wave of interest around prosperity indicators has been significantly motivated by the global questions on environmental matters and has led to a series of approaches, typically associated to the keywords ‘indicators for quality of life’, ‘sustainability indicators’, sometimes combined with other widely used terms in public discourse, such as `economic competitiveness’, etc. (Sawicki, 2002). As an indication of the widespread interest, let us mention that the European Union has issued a set of recommended ‘European Common Indicators’ focusing on ‘monitoring environmental sustainability at the local level’ while, some years earlier, a call for suitable ‘indicators for sustainability’ had been included in Agenda 21 of the Earth Summit Conference (1992, Rio de Janeiro), which marked an avalanche of actions and initiatives.

One of the major concerns in the construction and exploitation of indicators has been the access to the relevant data and the difficulties in the collection and reliability of the data needed in order to calculate and interpret social metrics. The revolution of the WWW and the Open Data Movement, conceived as “the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control”  arguably opens a new arena of experimentation with social indicators. This idea lies at the heart of the Policy Compass approach and thus, in this deliverable we will also provide a quick review of the contemporary situation of Open Data.

What is an indicator?

The term ‘indicator’ is one that people can easily understand. It is regularly conceived as a sort of ‘statistical measure’ that can adequately capture crucial aspects of a (social) phenomenon that should be monitored, in particular when a specific policy measure is enforced to affect it. Perhaps then, the simplest and most general definition is that of (Innes J. E., 1990): an indicator is “a set of rules for gathering and organising data so they can be assigned meaning”. In the policy-making arena, an indicator is conceived as a concrete tool used for justifying and optimizing resource allocation. From the scientific perspective, social indicators can be examined both from the theoretical and the practical viewpoint.

A quick look at the typology of indicators

In the preceding subsection, the (abstract) notion of an indicator has been given some well-known definitions. Yet, we should have in mind that it is usually the quantitative nature of indicators which makes them potentially interesting and useful. At this point, it certainly makes sense to see how indicators are perceived by the people who work on their calculation and exploitation, at least technically.

Aggregate (or summary) indicators: An aggregate or summary indicator concentrates information into a single figure. Examples include Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Consumers Price Index (CPI).

Composite (or integrated) indicators: Composite or integrated indicators draw from, or reflect, interaction between different areas such as the environmental, economic and social dimensions. An example would be the Human Development Index (HDI). An aggregate indicator can also be a composite indicator. To use this type of indicator successfully, awareness and acceptance of the assumptions that have gone into its construction are required.

Decoupling indicators: Decoupling is a (desired) outcome, such as having reduced energy consumption along with increased economic growth. The decoupling process can be very complex, so indicators aiming to show whether it is happening need to be developed with care.

Headline indicators: Some indicators may be selected as headline indicators – usually because they describe key issues. They are often supported by a subset of indicators. Usually they form a quick guide or overview and can be used to engage public awareness and focus attention. For instance, the UK sustainable development project has 15 headline indicators that are used to make up a quality-of-life barometer. Headline indicators may include composite indicators or other types of indicators, depending on the reporting focus.

International, National, Regional and Local indicators: Indicators are used at all levels, including international, national and regional and may be referred to as national and regional indicators. Indicators can be produced for lower levels such as community scheme monitoring where local indicators may refer to. For example, data gathered at the subnational level to produce regional indicators, could feed into national or international indicator reporting.

Proxy indicators: Proxy indicators are indicators that measure one aspect of a system that is thought to be reflective of a wider system. For example, lichen species are used as a proxy for air quality, and insect species in waterways may be used as a proxy for water quality.

Sustainability and other topic based indicators: Indicators may belong to a set that builds a picture of a whole system or framework, such as sustainability indicators. Sustainable development integrates development and developmental reporting across the economic, environment, cultural and social domains. Sustainability indicators refer to the monitoring of sustainable development.

On the methodology of defining Social Indicators

The description below draws directly from (Wong, 2006, Chapter 7), a very readable presentation. The steps of the methodology comprise:

  • Step 1: Conceptual consolidation – Clarifying the basic concept to be represented by the analysis
  • Step 2: Analytical structuring – Providing an analytical framework within which indicators will be collated and analysed
  • Step 3: Identification of indicators – Translation of key factors identified in Step 2 into specific measurable indicators
  • Step 4: Synthesis of indicator values – Synthesizing the identified indicators into composite index/indices or into analytical summary

What makes a `good’ indicator?

According to OECD, a well-defined and useful indicator should comprise (UNEP, 2014):

  • Policy relevance: the indicator needs to address issues that are of (actual or potential) public concern relevant to policymaking. In fact, the ultimate test of any single indicator’s relevance is whether it contributes to the policy process.
  • Analytical soundness: ensuring that the indicator is based on the best available science is a key feature to ensure that the indicator can be trusted.
  • Measurability: the need to reflect reality on a timely and accurate basis, and be measurable at a reasonable cost, balancing the long-term nature of some environmental, economic and social effects and the cyclicality of others. Definitions and data need to allow meaningful comparison both across time and countries or regions.

References

Innes, J. E. (1990). Knowledge and Public Policy: The Search of Meaningful Indicators,. New Brunswick: NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Innes, J. E., & Booher, D. E. (2000). Indicators for Sustainable Communities: A Strategy Building on Compexity Theory and Distributed Intelligence. Planning Theory and Practice, 1(2), 173-186.

Sawicki, D. S. (2002). Improving community indicator systems: injecting more social science into the folk movement. Planning Theory & Practice, 3(1), 13-32.

UNEP. (2014). GREEN ECONOMY: Using indicators for green economy policy making. Retrieved from http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/Portals/88/documents/PAGE/IndicatorsWorkingPaper.pdf

Wong, C. (2006). Indicators for Urban and Regional Planning: the interplay of policy and methods. London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis.

29 Feb

Policy Compass 6th Plenary Meeting @ Madrid, Spain

The 6th Plenary Meeting of the Policy Compass consortium was hosted by ATOS in Madrid, Spain between the 24th and 25th of February, 2015.

The participants had fruitful exchange of ideas on the upcoming public launch of the project’s platform, as well as on the plans for the Policy Compass pilots’ operation.

Past and future dissemination activities, as well as the project’s exploitation plan, were also discussed.

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For future news and insights, stay tuned on our website and the project’s social media!

02 Feb

“Enabling Effective Policy Making” Workshop: Proceedings now available!

Policy Compass, along with other Global Systems Science projects, organised a Workshop in the context of the dual EGOV / ePart 2015 conference, titled “Enabling Effective Policy Making – Coupling the Power of the Data with the Wisdom of the Crowd”.

The main purpose of the Workshop was to disseminate the project’s platform and up to date results to all participating stakeholders, as well as stimulate discussion on all participating projects.

The workshop’s proceedings are now available (open access) though CEUR Workshop Proceedings: http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-1553/