E-consultation research project overview
The work will be carried out in 4 phases.
We will map the current use across Ireland, north and south, of consultation levels and forms. This will require a multiscalar approach involving local government, regional bodies and NGO's both local and transnational. The objective is to establish a reliable base line to provide context for the current project. Social mapping techniques will be used as well as more traditional questionnaire methods.
In parallel with this, we will match specific e-consultation technologies to these elicited needs and the conditions of those affected by the troubles (rather than traditional consultees), and to the different stages of mediation/ negotiation/ consultation processes in which they will actively participate. The objective is to produce a detailed map of the conditions under which particular technologies designed for use under different conditions (e.g. business decision-making) might be appropriate in this context.
We will carry out a limited number of experiments with small groups of participants, to evaluate tools and processes developed elsewhere for their suitability to the elicited needs for e-consultation on the Ireland, and their ability to support peace and reconciliation. By the end of this phase we will know which techniques are particularly suited to our context (public sector consultations and community reconciliation in Ireland), and how they may be further modified to meet our needs.
We will synthesise the findings of phases 1 and 2 into an online guide to e-consultation, and other support and advice materials, so that organisations can start to benefit from the research, and disseminate the through workshops.
Once the ideas and techniques are better known in Northern Ireland and the border counties, following the workshops under 4, the project will assist in and evaluate a few demonstrations of e-consultation in collaboration with consulting bodies. These will validate the models of best practice and technology developed in the small-scale experiments carried out in phase 3.
A follow-up series of focus groups will seek to derive the political implications of our project. Preliminary results of the study will be fed back to focus groups drawn from communities and relevant policy makers. The concept of e-democracy in the context of citizenship building will be tested, refined and developed in this phase.