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Peter Cruickshank
Bruce Ryan
Colin F Smith
‘Hyperlocal e-participation’?
Evaluating online activity
by Scottish Community ...
What are community councils
• Their purpose is to represent small areas within Local Authorities
• Powers are limited
– Mo...
Three similar countries
Austria Norway Scotland*
Pop. (m) 8.3 5.0 5.3
Federal 9 Bundesländer - (Part of UK)
County
84 Bezi...
Community Council locations
CEDEM14
Three similar countries
Austria Norway Scotland
Websites 98% (2008) 90% (2003)
Hosting .gv.at
Social media 58% (2011)
CEDE...
Three similar countries
Austria Norway Scotland
Websites 98% (2008) 90% (2003) ?
Hosting .gv.at ?
Social media 58% (2011) ...
What does the literature say
• E-participation
– Can hold government to account
– Helps communication (Grosse 2013)
– But ...
How are CCs (visibly) acting?
Represent-
ative body
Com-
munity
group
Campaign-
ing group
Local
media
CEDEM14
Gathering the data
Limitations
Offline only
Closed groups
Social media
not the web
CEDEM14
Activity levels
Level of e-
par...
Results
Inactive
CCs
Active with online presences…
Total
CCs…missing
…out-of-
date
…up-
to-date
Total 213 498 351 307 1,36...
Results
What does seem to work?
CEDEM14
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
450
500
Active and…
Results
• This level of use of websites compares adversely with the 98% of
Austrian Gemeinden and 90% of Norwegian kommune...
Put simply:
Community Councils aren’t flying
CEDEM14
• Essentially, Looking at a
failed part of the political
system
…an e...
What next
Data gathering…
• Resurvey
• Twitter analysis
• Ethnography
Interventions
• KM
• ?
CEDEM14
THANK YOU
Peter Cruickshank
p.cruickshank@napier.ac.uk
@spartakan
CEDEM14
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Hyperlocal e-participation: Scottish community councils on the internet, for CeDEM 2014

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A brief presentation that talks a little about the implications of our 2012 survey of internet use by Community Councils in Scotland - and exploring options for further research approaches

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Hyperlocal e-participation: Scottish community councils on the internet, for CeDEM 2014

  1. 1. Peter Cruickshank Bruce Ryan Colin F Smith ‘Hyperlocal e-participation’? Evaluating online activity by Scottish Community Councils
  2. 2. What are community councils • Their purpose is to represent small areas within Local Authorities • Powers are limited – Mostly, the right to be consulted – Some more direct input into planning processes • Community Council members are unpaid volunteers • Small to non-existent budgets – Average annual income is around £400 – enough to hire a monthly meeting room, pay for some stationery (Arrangements of hyperlocal government vary across the United Kingdom between England, Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland but share a common model) CEDEM14
  3. 3. Three similar countries Austria Norway Scotland* Pop. (m) 8.3 5.0 5.3 Federal 9 Bundesländer - (Part of UK) County 84 Bezirke 15 Statutarstädte 19 fylker 32 Local Authorities Community 2346 Gemeinden 434 kommuner 1369 Community Councils ‘000 people per community 3.5 11.5 3.9 CEDEM14 *Depending who you ask Three smallish countries with a mix of urban and remote rural populations
  4. 4. Community Council locations CEDEM14
  5. 5. Three similar countries Austria Norway Scotland Websites 98% (2008) 90% (2003) Hosting .gv.at Social media 58% (2011) CEDEM14 Community councils online
  6. 6. Three similar countries Austria Norway Scotland Websites 98% (2008) 90% (2003) ? Hosting .gv.at ? Social media 58% (2011) ? CEDEM14 Community councils online
  7. 7. What does the literature say • E-participation – Can hold government to account – Helps communication (Grosse 2013) – But isn’t everything: Reinforces power relations – Seen in context of channel choice (Saglie & Vabo, 2009) – Don’t expect 100% (active) participation • Delivery of information: perhaps models of media would be where to look? – Recognises role of passive participation (‘lurking’) • Voluntary organisation? – Should we look to charities? (Goatman & Lewis 2007) – And how they target interest groups (Winterich et al 2012) • Impact of smallscale Geography – Cities are different from countryside – Part of identification with small towns (Bruns 2010) – Community groups as a way to get to now your neighbours (Nyseth & Ringholm, 2008) CEDEM14
  8. 8. How are CCs (visibly) acting? Represent- ative body Com- munity group Campaign- ing group Local media CEDEM14
  9. 9. Gathering the data Limitations Offline only Closed groups Social media not the web CEDEM14 Activity levels Level of e- participation Content types • Contacts • News • Planning • Local info Hosting arrangements • Where are the servers • What platform is used
  10. 10. Results Inactive CCs Active with online presences… Total CCs…missing …out-of- date …up- to-date Total 213 498 351 307 1,369 % of all 16% 36% 26% 22% 100% %of active NA 43% 30% 27% 100% CEDEM14
  11. 11. Results What does seem to work? CEDEM14 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500 Active and…
  12. 12. Results • This level of use of websites compares adversely with the 98% of Austrian Gemeinden and 90% of Norwegian kommuner. • Only 38 CCs (12% of active online sites) had information to support engagement with the planning process • despite this being core to their mission. • Low level of use of Facebook • LA-hosted presences tended to have only minutes and CC contact details • What are the drivers for use if internet? – Data seem to imply support from LA was most significant – No simple relationship between urban/rural characteristic of LAs and CCs’ online effectiveness – Probably need to drill down into more detailed social statistics – Profile of the community councillors (eg age) is probably also significant CEDEM14
  13. 13. Put simply: Community Councils aren’t flying CEDEM14 • Essentially, Looking at a failed part of the political system …an edge case » Technology will not solve this problem • BUT: It is interesting to look for cases where technology does make a difference • Can models of practice be shared? www.identitybydesign.co.nz
  14. 14. What next Data gathering… • Resurvey • Twitter analysis • Ethnography Interventions • KM • ? CEDEM14
  15. 15. THANK YOU Peter Cruickshank p.cruickshank@napier.ac.uk @spartakan CEDEM14

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