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Platforms for engaging citizens

Governments around the world are now developing platforms to engage citizens. In New Zealand, the government have been experimenting by using a wiki to draft police legislation. The wiki elicited thousands of contributions (some more constructive than others) and at its peak, the site received 10,000 visits in one day. Suggestions included a governance board of eminent Kiwis, a minimum recruiting age for police and a greater emphasis on victim’s rights. The review team judged the wiki to be very successful in raising awareness, bringing in new ideas and refining existing ideas.

Other platforms include the White House’s new site, based on the principles as laid out in President Obama’s Memorandum on collaborative, participatory and transparent government. The site enables citizens to take part in an open brainstorming session and a discussion of ideas about the best way to effect the President’s Memorandum. There are three stages, ‘brainstorm’, ‘discuss’ and ‘draft’ which will culminate in new policy proposals. Other platforms such as MoveOn.org, MeetUp.org and Obama.com proved very effective during President Obama’s election campaign in mobilising and galvanising grassroots support. These platforms are now providing the Obama Administration with mechanisms to solicit citizen’s ideas and feedback.