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e-Democracy update - 21/09/05

21 September, 2005
By Daniel Macpherson

Australia drops in global e-Government listing

Australia's ranking fell from seventh place to eighth in a recent annual report on the state of e-Governance across the world.

In their annual Global e-Government Study researchers from Brown University gave Australia a ranking of 35.1 per cent, which is down from 36.7 per cent from last year. The report attributes this drop in ranking to a fall in their rating of online services, from 65 per cent to 32 per cent, and a fall in ratings of security policy, from 23 per cent to 10 per cent.

Hong Kong and Germany managed to overtake Australia in the last year with rankings of 46.2 per cent and 35.3 per cent respectively.

The top five countries for e-governance were Taiwan (57.2 per cent), Singapore (54.5 per cent), United States (50.5 per cent), Hong Kong (46.2 per cent), and China (44.3 per cent).

Full details of the report can be found here.

'Making Links' to explore community building with ICT

Several non-government and not-for-profit organisations will gather for the 'Making Links' conference at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in November. The conference will allow organisations to share their experiences of building communities with information and communication technologies (ICT).

Various guest speakers include Andrew Arch from Accessible Information Solutions, Infoxchange Australia Executive Director Andrew Mahar, and Community Net Aotearoa Project Manager Bill Dashfield.

The conference runs from November 14-15, 2005. For more information, please visit their website.

International conference on e-Democracy next week in France

Nearly a hundred guest speakers will meet in France for the sixth Worldwide Forum on e-Democracy next week.

The forum will allow these speakers the opportunity to debate several key e-Democracy areas such as e-administration, the digital divide, e-voting, encouraging e-participation, and civic journalism.

The conference runs from 28-29 September, 2005. For more information, visit the forum's information site.

Taipei leads the way on wireless democracy

Authorities in Taipei plan to have the world's largest Wi-Fi grid installed in their city by next year. The grid will contain 10,000 access points that will blanket the city's 272 square kilometres.

Taipei Mayor Ying-jeou Ma said people would be able to access the net from anywhere and at anytime without the need for network cables. Over the course of Ma's leadership, the city has gained many advances in e-democracy and e-governance, such as free e-mail accounts for all citizens, e-services websites, public computers in libraries, and 449 community websites. "By the end of my first four-year term we had already achieved most of the goals of a cyber city," Ma said.

The project is being developed by private company Q-Ware Corp and is estimated to cost USD$70 million.

Utah and Maine: Best eGovernment states in the US

A recent report shows Utah and Maine as the top two states leading the US in eGovernance. Brown University’s sixth annual e-government analysis shows Utah has a 62.1 per cent e-governance rating and Maine with a 61.3 per cent rating.

Researchers at Brown rated US state homepages with certain features such as online publications and databases, services, email addresses, comment forms, automatic email updates, and readability levels.

Both websites contain some excellent examples of e-democracy resources. Utah's iGov webpage has various links to e-participation features, including two online forums, and Maine’s site contains an entire section devoted to e-democracy.

The full report can be found here.

Thomas Riley on citizen engagement

The co-founder of a leading think-tank in London has suggested a three-tier approach to encouraging e-participation between citizens and governments. Commonwealth Centre for Electronic Governance Chief Executive Thomas Riley says these approaches include:

"Evidence to date, however, shows there is little major impact on governments at this point," says Mr Riley. "Consequently, there is a need to develop e-engagement policies and mechanisms to bring communities into the wder process of government. Many individual citizens and groups want to influence governments. But often, they are uncertain about how to do this and lack the technological skills or desire. This emphasises the importance of e-engagement."

You can find full details on Mr Riley's approach here.

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