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Local E-democracy National Project
Institution: Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
Theme: ICT for MDGs, Institution and HR Management
Implementation Date: Oct 08, 2005
Summary: The Engage project is a recent offshoot from a number of overlapping strands within the Local E-democracy National Project.

It is primarily a Web-based community consultation toolkit designed to enable locally elected representatives and local government officers to communicate and engage with their communities more effectively.

The creation and management of local communities constitute the heart of the Engage toolkit. Individuals can belong to multiple local communities depending on where they live, their interests and activities. E

xamples of local communities include school catchments areas, electoral divisions, ethnic backgrounds and expressed interests. This localization enables the precise, cost-effective targeting of communities by local government and ensures excellent response rates from the public being consulted.

Through Engage, a wide range of users can ask questions of distinct local communities, which are then merged into multiple personalized questionnaires, based on the profiles of the respondents. A process of review and classification allows managers to ensure that the overall consultation process is coherent and that questions are not duplicated unnecessarily.

Another major innovation is the importance placed on feedback to the public following a consultation. Respondents are sent the results and outcomes of all the issues on which they are consulted, thus ensuring that they see the impact of their individual contributions.
Impact: In the past, the specialized nature of deliberative consultation tended to ensure that it was undertaken relatively rarely and at considerable cost.

The easy accessibility of the Engage toolkit, both for the public and for local politicians and government officers, has enabled a far wider range of discussion and communication.
The collaborative nature of Engage has also enabled politicians and officers to raise issues quickly and easily with their communities and see rapid, comprehensive feedback.

During early pilots, response rates have been significantly higher than those experienced through more traditional consultation approaches.

These response rates have ranged from 50 per cent to 70 per cent and, more importantly, the speed of responses has been substantially improved. In one case, over 50 per cent of respondents replied within five days of being sent their personalized questionnaires.

As a result of such improved response rates, plus the use of new channels of communication, there has been a substantially reduced cost per response for any given issue.
Source: Politech Institute
Project Home URL: http://www.edemocracy.gov.uk

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