What’s the problem with ePetitions?

Hey guys and dolls,

Feels like ages since I’ve been in the right mood to really get into writing again. Sorry about that! I finally found what I was looking for… I was needing some well needed inspiration and the Epic LocalGovCamp Lincoln was certainly the inspirational dosage I needed to get my creative juices running again ;o)­ This event was run by no other than my good twitterati friend and also one of the founding members of “Epic Visionaries” – Mr. Andrew Beeken­

First up is…. The House of Fraser ;o)

­The first session was run by Fraser Henderson (Founder and Director of Particitech) who discussed the issues surrounding e-Petitions. Now I wasn’t in this session myself, as I was in the “social networking sites” session (where else would I be …? hehe ;o) ), but I’m gonna have a go at reporting it based on the twitterstream and my own knowledge on this subject! Haha let’s see how well I do ay? But hey before I start, just wanted to share one interesting thought… did you guys know that the cathedral in the Da Vinci Code film is in Lincoln?!? Hehe, well it is, and its pretty wicked guys ;o) You must see it!

So.. what’s the problem with e-Petitions…?

Now, I know its kind of funny that everytime we mention e-petitions, our minds go directly to Number 10’s e-petition facility. Even when I was in the states attending the Participation Camp, they kept on talking about how wonderful the Number 10 e-petition system was. I guess when we have it, we tend to take things a little bit for granted when the rest of the world is looking at the UK for good practices in online government. Its definitely a great facility and it was interesting to learn from this session of a heartfelt story of Alan Turing “The ­Father of Computer Science”. Definitely a positive outcome coming out from Number 10’s e-petitions. Watch this video to hear about his story…

Advantages of e-Petitions

It was stated during the session that the advantage of e-petitions is petitions have to be approved and therefore problems can be solved before the petition goes live (via @pezholio) . And it is also believed that local e-petitions can have more impact than national ones (via @pezholio). Though there are some challenges when it comes to localizing e-petitions which primarily includes validating whether or not the person signing the e-petition in fact lives within the local area. Obviously this is vitally important when it comes to “petitions on planning applications, alcohol and gambling licenses or on people” (via @pezholio).

E-Petition Verbs…

Petitions and e-petitions: A few observations…

Upon doing some digging around on the net regarding e-petitions bill that is rumoured to potentially come in April 2010, I found a brilliant article summing up the issues surrounding e-petitions on Paul Evans Local Democracy Blog. I do know Paul personally as I met him earlier this year at the UKGovCamp. He says…

My sources in Westminster tell me that the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill (pdf) (text version) is likely to get royal assent at some point in the autumn and will come into force in May 2010 with guidance potentially in place as early as February 2010.

Without repeating what Paul has mentioned in his blogpost, a few other challenges for e-petitions in local gov will be..

  • Who will manage and moderate ePetitions at the Council? Is it a full time job? (via @surajkika)
  • How do we detect duplicate petitions? (via @pezholio)
  • Is it possible to do e-petitions via Digital TV or Twitter? (via @pezholio)
  • How do we get the e-petitions system embedded into councils (via @davebriggs)
  • What about the issues of ‘unsigning’ a petition? Does it then become a poll? (via @iancuddy)
  • How do we authenticate? (via @jaducms)
  • Should we validate because local means different things to different people. (@pezholio)
  • User management module is crutial in ePetitions (via @jaducms)

Let’s have a look at the four stage model of the processes involved during the life of an individual petition to purely understand how e-petitions might work… You can find the copy of this research by Napier here.

So, the question I guess now is, are we ready for this and will local councils “get it”? Any comments? Links and guides to e-petition:

My Interview with Fraser…



Hope this was useful!


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  1. carlplant (Carl Plant)

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    What’s the problem with ePetitions? – interesting views on epetitions, envied by some, not understood or liked by others… [link to post]

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