There have been a number of significant publications recently about ePetitioning, not least one I am supporting financially via Brunel University relating to a study of local systems after the implementation of the LDEDC Act.
Draw what conclusions you will; the good news is that the majority of authorities have implemented a local ePetition facility. Having spoken to the democratic service manager in Lambeth recently it looks like despite repeal under the Localism Bill, there is still enthusiasm for local facilities and schemes.
Secondly, the EuroPetition project has just drawn to a close. You can find the full project conclusions in slidepack form here, delivered by the project partners. There are some good universal findings from this research – such as the 100 day rule – which suggests that 80% of signatures are likely to be collected within this time and subsequently that this is a sensible default petition duration. It was also apparent that mobile access is now significant and provisions are needed to match consumer access behaviour. Fortunately Public-i has already developed an iPhone app for their petitioner software…for imminent release.
Sweden and Spain faired very well with a significant number of local and European petitions received. The UK was more disappointing and Italy was a no-go, I suspect this reflects both our cultural differences towards an integrated Europe.
Some interesting questions arose from the debate which followed the project review, such as “what is a successful petition?” and “what is more important, usability or standards?”. The first question we managed to answer confidently – that success needs to be considered from the petition organisers’ perspective and it boils down to being listened to and being taken seriously. The latter is a matter of opinion but we all agreed that petition clarity is paramount to achieve both support and success, particularly at the European level.
Thirdly, I have updates from Bristol City Council and Birmingham City Council and LB Lambeth in relation to the progress of their facilities. In terms of the former the most interesting observation relates to the petitioners in that they seem to be the ‘usual suspects’. This strengthens work by North Lincolnshire Council around providing a mechanism to sign and view petitions from DigiTV.
With the number of local systems growing we should end up with lots of interesting insight. Watch this space!