5 February 2012: Interview with Luca Buccoliero and Elena Bellio (Bocconi University)
Your research unit at Bocconi has been dealing for years with Internet 2.0 and its value for cities and citizens. How in your opinion citizens participation is changing thanks to Internet 2.0 and how this can help Policy Makers to better understand citizens priorities, demand and ideas and to develop new effective policies.
Like many important concepts, Web 2.0 doesn't have a hard boundary, but rather, a gravitational core. Web 2.0 can be visualized as a set of principles and practices that tie together a veritable solar system of sites that demonstrate some or all of those principles, at a varying distance from that core. This assures easier contact among people, promoting a culture aimed at the sharing of information to allow anyone to make their own contribution and bring added value.
According with these elements, the Web 2.0 approach is exploitable within public organizations which are now required to build a community of participating, active and contributing citizens, rather than mere visitors of web pages. While the objective is to really put the citizen at the center of the system, the participation of individuals in the cultural, social and political life of their own territory becomes one of the key elements. Internet 2.0 is therefore considered a means for improving public organizations, to assure greater transparency, efficiency and customer-oriented services.
Interesting examples of innovation coherent with these objectives can be found scattered all over Europe, where several Web 2.0 projects have been launched in order to promote the participation of citizens, the digitalization and the administrative transparency. Our studies, at the Marketing Department of Bocconi University, aim to demonstrate the main impacts of this revolution:
• an increase of citizens’ trust and relationship with Local Governments;
• an improvement of the efficiency of back-office organizational processes;
• a major change of the role and the choices of politicians who have to deal with an increased transparency.
In your opinion FUPOL, as it is designed, can become the policy making tool of the future? Is so, what planned features of FUPOL in your opinion can respond to such requirements?
The achievement of FUPOL’s objectives could usefully support policy definition and policy implementation in urban centers, thanks to the new opportunity to understand the mood and the consensus of citizens and to build new scenarios according with alternative policy options.
We can foresee the following success factors of this project:
• The ability to georeferentiate the system using the data layers of the existing GIS;
• The opportunity to exploit the new mobile technologies (smartphones, tablet, etc) in order to interact with a “mobile citizen”;
• The possibility to build a network of already existing best-practices in order to create an affordable technology re-use model for Local Governments.
Is in your opinion "simulation" relevant and effective in supporting policy making?
Definitely yes. At Bocconi we successfully adopted several simulation tools for the education of undergraduated students as well as public managers and healthcare managers. According with our experience, even a very ludic and popular application as the well known “SimCity” software can play an important role in improving the skills of public decision makers. But, please, don’t forget the following advice: beware that E-government doesn’t mean “Emotional Government”. In the real world it is important, in our opinion, that politicians are allowed to maintain a certain degree of freedom of choice in policy making and are not too strictly linked with citizens’ daily mood.