Big Data: Summary
Authors: Ermira Salihu, Ilir Henci, Lorik Muçolli, Mohit Shrestha
When we think about e-governance, we involuntarily associate it to every type of online governance, including terms such as e-government and digital governance. Fortunately, there is a difference between these terms and such difference must be acknowledged. E-government is a term used to describe the processes and methods that a single government uses to improve its online relationship with the citizens. It focuses on one aspect of improvement of the internal operations and public services.
E-governance on the other hand has a much broader scope. It is a concept that would be able to bring change to the way citizens relate to their government and the way they understand the idea of their government being reached at online. E-governance is able to bring forward new concepts and ideas that single government could use to improve their e-government. The idea behind e-governance is very simple. The goal it strives to achieve is enhancement of good governance. Good governance it characterized by accountability, participation, and transparency. The technological advancements that have happened in the past decade have allowed for such participation and transparency. In order for such e-governance to function, the framework of digital governance must be applied. Digital governance has the widest scope. It is considered the framework for establishing roles and decision making authority of an organization’s digital presence. Digital governance applies to every online organization, and not only that of the government. (UNESCO, 2005)
Image 2 – Digital Governance Framework
As stated above, e-governance has a very broad range of topics and a very wide scope. It ranges with ideas from different concepts such as: ICT, Efficiency, Productivity, Reach, Sharing of Information, Service delivery, and Welfare. All of these aspects interact with each other when ensuring an efficient, transparent, and active model of e-governance. E-governance itself allows people who have access to the internet obtain information regarding passed laws, policies and decisions of local but also federal governments. It is present in developed countries and is in the process of releasing in most developing nations, as many governments do see the benefit of it. E-governance does not give everyone the ability to access any information they need. As people are, the government is also entitled to privacy. According to US law, the government could hold back any information which could be deemed as a threat to public order and to the people of the United States. This shows us that E-governance does not incorporate and publish all of the information that a government collects. It rather spreads information to the general public, that would have otherwise been done through other means, such as newspapers, journal publishing, pamphlets, or television. The goal of E-governance is to rather make the current information easily accessible than generating more information and data which would otherwise not be accessible. In order to ensure information and access flows of transparent and accountable e-governance, models must be utilized. The following models elaborate on how e-governance works (Chen & Hsieh, 2014).
Wider Disseminating Model
This model is considered the most crucial model of the geometrically sensitive e-governance systems. The reason for this is that it catalyses free access and the flow of valuable information to all part of the society and is often seen as the foundation of a good governance. The model is based on dissemination of relevant information to make best of governance, thus information that is already available through the public domain should be available to a wider public domain through the use of ICT, convergent media and other means of communication. The importance of the model relies on the informed citizen. An informed citizen is able to understand the governance mechanisms and is empowered to make rational choices and exercise its rights and responsibilities in a constructive manner.
Critical Flow Model
This model mainly aims to inform intended users about certain terms of information. It exposes the weakest aspects of governance and decision-making mechanisms by focusing the critical aspect of information. It informs people about specific cases of bad-governance by channeling information from the Private Domain Information to the Targeted Domain through ICT and convergent media. The model requires foresight to understand the importance of the information provided and ways of using it correctly and efficiently. On special cases, it involves locating certain people and informing them for particular information. Its strength relies on the characteristics of ICT that make the notion of time and distance redundant.
Comparative Analysis Model
This model deals with using lots of ICT and social media to compare information that is available in the private and public domain. For instance, say a certain district A built 2 schools with a certain amount of funds, whereas another district B built 5 schools with a similar amount. A comparative analysis model would analyze this information, along with other information available on both districts, and compare them. This could help determine if, say, there was any embezzlement of funds, and analyze why district A is inefficient compared to B. This model essentially compares the “best practice” of a certain government office and uses that as a comparison point to compare with other similar offices. One of the biggest advantages this model provides is the almost infinite amount of information that can be stored in digital media, as well as be transmitted with ease across geographical barriers. For example, the Human Development Report of UNDP uses archived statistical information to assess the progress made by different countries, and suggest policy recommendations based on that.
Mobilization and Lobbying Model
This model is more focused on a virtual community that links communities, individuals, networks and interest groups together, all of whom have a common goal. They all work towards a common goal by aligning force in the virtual community. An example of this model would be the combination of the following models: SMS and Mobile Campaigns (in the Philippines and and Ukraine), Signature Campaigns (India: Petition OnlineCorruption), e-Signature Campaigns (Pakistan), e-Groups on Agriculture, Zimbabwe Kubatana.net (using emails for lobbying) and so on. If we look further into the ways of how this model works, you will find out all of these methods of data gathering are planned, directed, strategic flows of information that is provided for the real world out there.
Service Delivery Model
This model is often used as a way of consolidating the earlier digital governance models and for opening paths of direct participation of individuals in the governance processes. The “interactive” system sets the foundation of a healthy Citizen-Government relationship. It makes possible that the various services offered by the government are available to the citizens to use at any desired time. Having an interactive consumer is crucial for the e-governance because the various functions offered like filing tax returns, sharing of concerns and conducting opinion polls will actually be used properly and the consumer will be well informed about its responsibilities. This model is more of a characteristic of well developed countries but has also been proposed to be replicated in developing countries.
Populism and Community
The concept of populism and community as a whole raise a critical point when it comes to them expanding their use of the Net. Will that produce a qualitatively distinct political system in the near future? At the end of the 1990’s two rather different claims have been made commonly and the one that set a more optimistic outlook was that the internet would make communities stronger, but the other was a populist claim of the opposite.
This comes as a result of people’s claims that the internet will erode the influence of organized groups and political elites. According to this theory, the development of the internet will increase the community capacity, which will later increase citizen influence as well but decrease the influence of traditional political intermediaries on the other side. However, this claim was seen to be criticized by Bimber based on Lippmann (1934, Public Opinion) as he said that with the development of the internet it is true that communication capacity will increase but it does not also mean that the influence of the citizens will increase as well.
Community Building Claim
The community building claim differs from that of the Populist claim. This claim lays its foundation on changes within a community that occur between citizen to citizens; a citizen – citizen communication model. This communication would occur at a personal level and could bring together people with the same ideologies who would otherwise never have met each other. The internet services as a building block of such a claim. This is due to immediate access and instant communication services between people who share an opinion and ideology. The community building claim can also serve in forming movements, which could cause a change in the community as a whole and effect several people for the better or for the worse.
Image 3 – GreatAgain.Gov Homepage
An example of a successful e-governance idea is the website released by Donald Trump and his team, www.greatagain.gov. This is considered so due to the reason that transparency is at its highest, with new updates from Trump’s transition team on a daily basis. It also promotes digital participation with the option given to people, to share their ideas on how to make America great again. With such in mind, the Big Data collected from such e-governance would be quite large and consistent, giving the Trump administration ideas on where to focus during their 4 years. As we can see, e-governance can also help collect data, rather than just spread to the citizens, as is it’s primary goal (“www.greatagain.gov,” 2016).
Trump Twitter Bots
Even though the idea of twitter bots influencing voters does not seem plausible, anything is possible with accurate use of Big Data. Automated accounts, also referred to as bots, were said to be used by Trump supporters that claimed to be spreading only what was the “truth”, Trumps victory. As claimed by Twitter statistics, the increase of automated accounts occurred when polls pointed to a lead for Hillary Clinton. The bots spammed a different story, which put Trump in the lead. Such claims are fairly controversial, and conspiracy theories rose claiming that Trump and his team did the act. This is due to Trump’s’ constant claims of having great reach within social media.
The bots were said to use big data algorithms, such that infiltrated pro Hillary supporters within twitter, and starting spreading false information, memes, and fake polls regarding her campaign and the user’s previous posts. Such use of big data would require fast and efficient processing methods, leading to the proposal that it would require efficient and costly software and hardware to accomplish, something an average person would not be able to do on their own (Markoff, 2016).
Image 4 – Trump Twitter Bots
It is believed that social media played a crucial role in shaping the political debates in the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring had many causes, but one of them was social media and the way it was used to put people in the side of political oppression. There are traces and evidence that show how social media was used to ignite political controversy in the key demographic group of the revolution. It is hard to decide whether online information was driving people to the streets or that the presence of these people fed an online ongoing rage. Either way, it worked. Most people were writing blogs and “tweeting” about liberty, democracy and revolutions in order to ignite mass protests. Many governments recognized the power of the opposition that was using online information for its empowerment. In Tunisia, officials tried blocking social media sites and arresting bloggers who used their web-sites for writing criticizing articles about the government. To counter this, several hackers and talented computer programmers helped these activists in their tasks and were also able to shutter government services online and provide protesters with avoid the censorship (Howard et al., 2011).
Image 5 – Arab Spring Revolution
UNESCO. (2005, August 3). Defining e-governance: UNESCO-CI. Retrieved November 27, 2016, from http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=4404&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
Chen, Y.-C., & Hsieh, T.-C. (2014). Big data for digital government: Opportunities, Challenges, and Strategies. Retrieved November 27, 2016, from International Journal of Public Administration in the Digital Age, 1(1), 1–14. doi:10.4018/ijpada.2014010101
GreatAgain.Gov (2016). Retrieved November 28, 2016, from https://www.greatagain.gov/
Markoff, J. (2016, November 18). Automated pro-trump Bots overwhelmed Pro-Clinton messages, researchers say. Technology. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/18/technology/automated-pro-trump-bots-overwhelmed-pro-clinton-messages-researchers-say.html?_r=0
Howard, P. N., Duffy, A., Freelon, D., Hussain, M. M., Mari, W., & Mazaid, M. (2011). Opening closed regimes: What was the role of social media during the Arab spring? SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2595096
Image 2 – Digital Governance Framework – https://blogs.adobe.com/digitalmarketing/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/digital_governance_framework_overview.png
Image 3 – GreatAgain.Gov Homepage – http://image.prntscr.com/image/0da109de226545bea4e454e4d74d0ae8.png
Image 5 – Arab Spring Revolution – http://www.newstatesman.com/sites/default/files/styles/nodeimage/public/blogs_2015/05/gettyimages-134083902.jpg?itok=Qhwt4uFo