Finland’s Internet Democracy Association/Finnish Association for Online Democracy
Commercial Centre Ogeli
Kylänvanhimmantie 29 A 2nd floor
The objectives for (Finland’s Internet Democracy Association / The Finnish Association for Online Democracy) are:
· the promotion and implementing of democratic online voting systems in Finland
· the research and coordination of experiments involving online democracy in Finland
· the participation in the field’s both Finnish and international discussions
· the participation in scientific cooperation
To carry out these objections, the association:
- produces presentations, statements, motions and initiatives, decided by the board of directors
- organises both presentational and educational events and discussions
- diversely cooperates with the media
- produces and publishes material regarding the field on a non-profit basis
- informs of its proceedings
BECOME A MEMBER!
The association’s board of directors 2011:
Jorma Pilke, chairman
PLAN OF EXECUTION 2011
The objective of Finland’s Internet Democracy Association / The Finnish Association for Online Democracy is to enhance Finnish civic activity on the web. To do this, the association, for example:
· promotes and implements the Finnish democratic online voting system
· researches and coordinates experiments involving online democracy in Finland
· participates in the field’s both Finnish and international discussions
· participates in both scientific cooperation
The association has advanced in its goals by starting an electronic remote voting in cooperation with Finnish Youth Co-operation called Nuorten nettivaalit 2011 (Youth’s Web Elections). It has also organised an open data competition, “Apps4Finland 2010”. It has participated in the field’s both Finnish and national discussions.
The year 2011’s challenges are: the completion of the Nuorten nettivaalit 2011 project, the further development of remote voting for the needs of non-profit organisations, offering children and adolescents an OpenID username (electronic identity) in virtual workplaces, the organisation of Apps4Finland 2011, and the development of the Lasten kaupunki (“Children’s City”) project.
Finland’s Internet Democracy Association / The Finnish Association for Online Democracy actively takes part in both Finnish and international discussions by providing statements and making initiatives. The association contributes to the reform of Finnish Law on local government by bringing up Online Democracy’s opportunities for local residents.
The association actively takes part in Nettiajan kansalaisyhteiskunta’s (Civil Society of the Online Age) activities.
A Web of Open Democracy
Finland’s Internet Democracy Association / The Finnish Association for Online Democracy financially and generally supports the open web democracy activities of Apps4Finland and Nettiajan kansalaisyhteiskunta.
The founders of the web of Open Democracy are:
eduskunnan rajapinta biomi.org
Open Democracy Camp 2011
The association will organise an Open Democracy Camp 2011 event which follows the traditions of online democracy seminars with a refreshed approach.
At the event, representatives of the Web of Open Democracy, administrative officials, research teams of various universities etc. are brought together to present their own activities and solve problems.
A general view of Finnish projects that shape digital citizenship is created at the event such as the SADe programme and Asiointitili.
The project’s goals could be the promotion of Open Democracy’s data cloud and personal identification.
Also, some of the project’s goals, regarding adults, are the following of other projects concerning Online Democracy. Another target is the setting up of Open Democracy websites and establishing personal relationships.
Nuorten nettivaalit 2011 (Youth Web Elections 2011)
The purpose of this project is to offer a remote voting instrument for youth elections organized by Finnish Youth Cooperation – Allianssi.
Every four years, before actual parliamentary elections, Allianssi organises parliamentary elections for under 18-year-olds in middle, high and vocational school. The adolescences vote for a parliament they would like.
The results of the Youth Elections are released just before the official date for parliamentary elections. These results reveal what Finnish adolescences would have elected as official Parliament. The idea of the Youth Elections is to interest minors in democracy, mutual issues in society and finally attempt to lower the voting age to 16 years.
Until now, the elections have been arranged as ballot-box elections in schools by students themselves acting as voting officials.
Schools’ own activity (Platform)
With the help of the voting system developed in the Youth Elections 2011 project, minors can vote through the web. As an alternative, minors can vote traditionally at ballot-box elections. Either way, all votes will be recorded onto the same database on the web. Teachers have the possibility of printing out a list of those who have voted, from the school’s Platform, to prevent anyone from voting twice.
Schools are offered a platform for the duration of the elections. This platform allows schools to deal with student register information. For the purposes of data protection, student register information cannot be passed on to the association. The schools handle their information in their own, secure environment offered to them. This means that there is no need to separately ask for minors’ and their parents’ permission for the submitting of their personal identification, because we are talking about the own activity of the school in a “rented” environment.
Student register information, which has been entered and encrypted onto the Platform, works in synch with the voting system. In other words, when students sign into the voting system with their own voting username (OpenID), the system checks (in encrypted form) with Platform if he/she has the right to vote.
The Process of Voting
Briefly explained, the process of voting is as follows:
1) Schools participating in Youth Elections enter information about students (with the right to vote) using Excel onto the Platform
2) The system asks if one-time voting usernames should be sent to students via text message, e-mail or mail.
3) The teacher who had entered the information clicks “yes”
4) Voting usernames and passwords are sent to students
5) The student logs onto the online voting system and votes
6) After the vote, on the last page, the online voting system inquires the student if he/she wants to keep the username they were given for a longer time (Yes/No.) The system tells the student that the username can be used in youth’s virtual environments such as Children’s City, Children’s Church, aloitekanava etc.
7) If the student clicks NO, his/her information on the Platform will be deleted permanently. It will also be permanently deleted if the student doesn’t use his/her username at all during the elections.
8) If the student clicks YES, his/her information will be passed on from the Platform to an OpenID register which is run by this association. OpenID is an electronic identification register for children and adolescences.
Further Utilization in Student Council, Youth Council and Finnish Children’s Parliamentary Elections
The voting tool has been purposely generated to be utilised also in the future in Finnish municipalities and youth work. The system can be incorporated into for example Student Body Elections and Children’s Parliamentary Elections, on a local level. In the future, it will be possible to vote for Finnish municipalities’ two child representatives in the Finnish Children’s Parliament through the web.
In every election, though, the school should enter a list of those with the right to vote onto the Platform (student register) separately.
If the voting system needs to be modified, the Ministry of Education and Culture will be requested for financial help. OpenID maintenance fees are included in the funding of online media that comes from The Ministry.
A Version of the Voting System for Civil Society Associations
The voting system will be generated into a civil society association version during the year 2011. It will be marketed in co-operation with Finnish Youth Cooperation – Allianssi at first to associations working with youths.
Funding for the civil society association version has been filed for separately, for the development and marketing of the citizen association version. The voting tool will be made available also in the Ministry of Justice’s Democracy and Language Affairs Unit’s Platform of Participation project.
OpenID for Many Services
As planned, Finland’s Internet Democracy Association / The Finnish Association for Online Democracy has become more and more like an OpenID provider during the Youth’s Web Elections 2011 project. The purpose of this is to offer certified electronic identities for children and adolescences, with which they can surf virtual youth co-operation and activity environments safely.
A certified electronic identity means that only adults that play a major role in a child’s/adolescence’s life (for example as a mentor or educator) can take part in his/her learning environment. In other words, only children have the right to work in Finnish Children’s Parliament, Children’s Church and the up-coming Children’s City.
Children’s City Project
The idea of the Children’s City Project is to create a building platform, on which youth co-operation work providers, such as associations and Finnish municipalities, can virtually construct their own buildings and operations. Children’s City also combines already existing virtual work environments, for example Children’s Church and the Finnish Children’s Parliament & Agora.
The potential number of users is significant. For example, those registered to Children’s Church (about 30 000 children) might become users of other Children’s City services, after the environments unite.
Funding for the Children’s City Project will be applied for from the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Education and Culture. The project will also have a fundraiser, which will contact, for example, banks, Muumin Characters, etc.
The association offers an electronic identity and a secure work environment for children. In addition, the association is responsible for town planning, marketing “properties” and “building rights” in the environment. The Children’s City platform is built so that people working in the benefit of youth work can enter their own design in competition.
Finland’s Internet Democracy Association / The Finnish Association for Online Democracy will continue hosting the Apps4Finland application design competition in the coming year. One goal of the competition is to speed up the ability of application designers using databases created with public funding. Another goal is to offer young application designers an opportunity to show their talent and urge them forward in the industry.
Co-operation with old co-operators will continue, and also new ones will be searched for. Marketing the competition will begin at the beginning of the year especially towards those studying at technical universities and colleges. In addition to this, marketing towards grade schools, high schools and vocational schools is focused on. Marketing for corporate category of the competition has to be planned out separately.
Such as this year, some funding for the project will be requested from the Ministry of Education and Culture. If additional funding is not available, the association will arrange the competition through its own resources.
Online Democracy Seminars 2011
Suomen Verkkodemokratiaseura participates in the field’s both national and international seminars. During the year 2011, the association will organise at least 1-2 seminars regarding online democracy.
The second seminar, regarding online voting and online democracy, will take place on the 16th of February, as the board of directors decided. The University of Jyväskylä will host Kansalaisyhteiskunnan kehittämispäivät (Development of Civil Society) on the next two days, 17th – 18th of Februrary.
The association will implement a study of evaluation regarding Nuorten Nettivaalit 2011 (Youth Web Elections 2011). This study will be funded by the Ministry of Justice.
Already existing features on the Verkkodemokratia.fi portal will be activated and they will be developed as follows:
Users can create new work-groups and define user rights more easily.
Users can edit text together in a more controlled way
Users can add key words to content and so add different associative connections on the material
Users can add rich multimedia to the content
Members of the association actively produce content to the portal by writing blogs and articles. The portal already has basic featuresof online community. This includes the opportunity to register a profile of influence on the service. Using this profile, the user is able to express opinions, motives; interests and background information of his/her own activity.
Another point of development is to bring news to site using feeds (RSS/Atom).
Moreover, other new features will be developed to the portal. One is the opportunity to social content providing and group work, developing ideas and events, writing publications and producing new information in general.
The current content management system will be made more user-friendly. If necessary, the platform will be put out to tender and the system will be transferred into a platform which would be more cost-effective and user-friendly.
Developing games on the Lasten kaupunki (Children’s city) environment
The association will arrange two online game competitions in cooperation with Assembly and MindTrek. The purpose of the competitions is to develop pedagogic games for the Lasten kaupunki (Children´s city) environment. The games should promote children and youths’ civic readiness and participation and they can include issues regarding education for democracy or entrepreneurship, for example.
The chairman and the board of directors elected in the fall meeting of 2010 lead the association forward. The executive director and web services manager are in charge of operative functions.
According the rules, everyone interested in the activities of the association and who accepts the purpose of these activities, can become as a member.
During 2011, the association will conduct purposely targeted marketing to groups, which have especial interest and expertise on issues related to online democracy. The association will be developed even more towards an expert organisation.
The board of directors and active members will look for suitable target groups during the beginning of the year.
Members will be informed about active projects with, for example, newsletters. Openness is essential in communications. Moreover, communications must be well planned out; it should be taken into careful consideration when an issue is ready to be published.
Bringing up issues to meetings
Focus of development: Researching and promoting a culture of decision making and meeting, which is free of time and place
Members can propose issues to be decided on during the board meetings. Proposals must be sent to the chairman or the board secretary well before the meeting.
Proposals for annual meetings should be transmitted to the chairman or the board secretary one month before the meeting.
Remote participation in board meetings is possible during the year 2011 as well. Conference calls have already been utilized in meetings. If necessary, external experts can be invited to meetings.
In fall 2010, lawmakers made remote participation possible in association meetings. This must be mentioned in the rules of association.
Distance participation brings up new challenges to arrangements of association meetings, as every member should be offered this feasibility equally.
Distance participation will be acknowledged in the renewal of rules, which will be decided in the Spring Meeting 2011.
Management of Documents
Meeting protocols, plans of execution, annual reports, project reports and financial statements will be published on the Member page on the website. Decisions made by the board will be published there as well.
The association will establish a group in order to develop document management.
Official documents are archived in the association’s computer files but also in printed format.
The Finnish Association for Online Democracy will prepare for the budget transparency according to Great Britain’s example. This means that all expenses and contracts, which exceed a certain limit, will be published as soon as possible, also in machine-readable format.