University of Oxford
TITLE | Building Data Science into Policy Design? A Case Study of Petition Signing Data
ABSTRACT | Petition platforms, where citizens may create and sign petitions to the government or legislature, have been adopted in many liberal democracies, including the US, the UK and Germany. These platforms can be mined to generate ‘big data’ on petition signing which provides new insight into the ecology of this form of political participation, data of a kind rarely seen in political science. This paper visualizes and models such data for all petitions created on the UK government petition platform over a three year period (including a comparison with similar data for the US); illustrates the effect on petition signing of a platform change to provide social information in the form of trending petitions; and shows how the analysis of such data might be used to inform policy change and platform redesign.
BIOGRAPHY | Helen Margetts is the Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, Univesity of Oxford and Professor of Society and the Internet. She is a political scientist specialising in digital governance and politics, investigating relationships between governments, citizens and the Internet and related digital technologies in the UK and internationally. She has published major research reports in this area for agencies such as the OECD and the UK National Audit Office, and many articles and books, including Digital Era Governance (OUP, 2006, 2008); the Tools of Government (Macmillan, 2007); and Paradoxes of Modernization (OUP, 2010). She is editor of the journal Policy and Internet. She sits on the Digital Advisory Board of the UK government. She holds the ESRC professorial fellowship ‘The Internet, Political Science and Public policy: Re-examining Collective Action, Governance and Citizen-Governance Interactions in the Digital Era’ (2011-4).