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Conference Links New Technologies and Improved Models of Governance

21 September 2011

A greater use of new technologies by the public sector could forge stronger links between government, industry and the public, a leading University of Ulster academic has claimed.

 Jonathan Wallace, Director of Knowledge and Technology Transfer for the Faculty of Computing and Engineering, was speaking in advance of a two-day conference and summit workshop on ‘Open Government’ which starts tomorrow (September 22).

“Open Government is a concept which is currently attracting a significant amount of attention in the US, UK and across Europe,” said Mr Wallace who is chairing the conference.

“Although Open Government is not about technology per se, the internet brings with it the promise of new and improved models of governance.

“It requires the public sector to consider how it might use new technologies to act more efficiently and effectively and enable stronger relationships between government, industry and the public.”

The conference, which is being held tomorrow at the Spires Centre in Belfast, will bring together key stakeholders in both Open Government and e-participation from the world of academia, government, industry and citizen stakeholder groups.

They aim to share their experiences of using open and connected technologies to help improve services and civic engagement.

Delivering the welcome speech at the conference will be the University of Ulster’s Pro Vice Chancellor (Communication and Development) Professor Alastair Adair and speakers include members of the UK Cabinet Office as well as government experts from Ireland, Europe and the US.

On Friday (September 23) a strategic summit will be held at the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus, which aims to provide an opportunity for decision makers to address key questions on the future strategy of Open Data and Open Government.

The issue of Open Data has gained a high profile recently with both the Obama administration and the UK coalition prioritising government transparency and promoting the release of public sector information via the internet.

Delegates will investigate its evolution across a regional, national, European and global context and move the discussion towards specific recommendations and actions.

The summit will use a state-of-the-art e-participation tool, the Electronic Town Meeting (eTM), which is being trialed by the University of Ulster, to facilitate the discussion and identify recommendations and actions.

The event is supported by the EU-funded PARTERRE Project and Dr Suzanne Martin from the University of Ulster’s School of Health Sciences is responsible for the Northern Ireland projects.

She said: “The use of the eTM will enable a comprehensive report on the outcomes of the round table discussions to be compiled in real time, as the event takes place.

“The outcome from the summit will be passed to the Northern Ireland Assembly and the UK Cabinet Office, to help inform policy in this crucial area.”

Professor Hugh McKenna University of Ulster Pro Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) will give the welcome address at the summit.

Both the conference and summit are the fourth in a series of all-island conferences organised under the OpenIsland banner.