Purpose – In this article we address the lack of adequate tools for deliberation and analyzing representativeness in a more collaborative e-government. Available discussion tools generally lack the necessary structure for supporting more complex reasoning, or they are too complicated to use. The groups of participants in such contexts often lack representativeness regarding the issues at hand.
Design/methodology/approach – This design research is based on two case studies of urban planning projects in Swedish municipalities. A set of semi structured interviews with municipality officials and residents exposed a need for supporting the direct communication with citizens and NGOs as well as groups internal democratic processes.
Findings – We show how a general participatory methodology on different levels of governance can be better supported using a standard type of interface and analytical tools for structured discussions and representation. We furthermore address the traditional dichotomy between the government and the citizens in e-government research by developing a tool that takes the individual actor as the starting point rather than an abstract collective.
Research limitations/implications – The tool is at present foremost useful for communicating participatory methodologies. The actor perspective means that the actors are highlighted as owners of specific questions rather than organisations. It also means that a government initiated survey can have competition from other actors using the same instrument.
Practical implications – Except for being an analytical tool for analysing participatory attributes and for better understanding how decisions are formed, the platform also includes tools for more elaborated decision support as well as support for voting and pro/con argumentation integrated with discussion forum for providing reasonable conditions for a broader more well structured participation.
Originality/value – This platform provides integrated analytical tools and elaborated decision support for the individual user to support democracy from a micro perspective rather than a government perspective and goes significantly beyond the capacities of similar tools and methods presently available.