Four ways governments are connecting more with people using online tools

In observing how people and their governments are communicating with each other, the Microsoft in Government blog shares four shifts that are driving “e-participation” and preserving and growing democracy.

“In a world where rising, geographically dispersed populations threaten people’s sense of connectedness, e-participation can provide a new way for citizens to remain active in their government,” writes R. Erdem Erkul, regional national plan manager of legal and corporate affairs at Microsoft’s Middle East and Africa headquarters.

1. Greater government transparency. Erkul writes that open government initiatives, “such as those embraced by the 62 countries in the Open Government Partnership…are providing new tools for citizens to view and use previously unavailable government information. These tools — including 43 websites developed recently by countries from Australia to Uruguay — provide unprecedented government transparency, increasing citizen participation and facilitating democratic processes.”

2. More focus on citizen needs. Erkul cites a recent United Nations’ e-government survey that lists the Netherlands, Korea, Kazakhstan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel as the world’s e-participation leaders. These countries stand out in terms of e-information, e-consulting and e-decision-making — providing at least 70 percent of the e-services critical to participatory government in the U.N. study.

3. Increased citizen involvement. The U.N. survey also revealed how social media has emerged as a powerful e-participation platform with 40 percent of governments using it. On Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, people can share their views with each other and their leaders. These channels are also used by government officials to provide regular information updates, broadcast council meetings and solicit citizen input about local government activities.

4. Improved government responsiveness. On the We the People website created by the Obama administration, citizens can create petitions for issues they want the government to address. Other citizens can vote for the petitions, and the ones that secure 100,000 votes within 30 days receive a response from the White House. So far, this has resulted in more than 130 direct responses to citizen concerns.

Read more from Erkul on the Microsoft in Government blog about how progress in these four areas are “essential to every nation’s future” and “improves everything from a government’s policy development to its legislative decision making.”

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Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff