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Press release

DEMOS-Project

2 / 7 / 2002, City of Hamburg

(deutsche Version)

DEMOS: Tool for electronic democracy successfully tested at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg.

Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg: In a six week process, an internet-discussion was held on the evaluation of lectures. This was made possible by using a newly designed platform for political participation, developed as a part of an EU-project.

In order to counteract falling voter turnouts and the decreased interest of the citizens in political debate, new methods of participation have to be developed. The DEMOS-Project is meeting this challenge to the democratic system, using the communicative potential of the Internet. A sophisticated forum for large scale discussions is being created in cooperation with partners all over Europe. The main objective is to develop a tool which enables citizens and politicians to lead a goal-oriented and structured debate, providing transparency for both sides. These features are seldom found in average virtual discussion forums, but seem of interest especially in anticipation of a Europe-wide political discourse.
The Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg now used the capacities of this forum in order to enhance and stimulate the dialogue between students and staff. The objective: "To meet the demand of the staff of imparting their contents of lectures in an optimal way", as formulated by Prof. Dr. Bauhofer, vice-president of the TUHH. The newly created infrastructure seemed perfect in order to achieve the aim. A six weeks debate evolved and became a virtual reality shortly before the new year. The topics discussed ranged from the structure of studies in general to the opening hours of the cafeteria. More than 1200 contributions were made by the 228 registered participants.

Supported by the newly designed software-system, the DEMOS team was able to structure the enormous amount of contributions as well as to visualize the discussion in a way that allowed even new users to get informed and involved easily. The initiated dialogue was a success also from a pragmatic point of view. It was possible to pinpoint nine fields of problems and to formulate possible actions in five elaborated strategies.
DEMOS is a research and development project sponsored by the European Commission. Co-ordination and project-management are conducted at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg. In the process of developing the functional forum for discussion and decision-making, this successful test marks an important step. Further testing has recently be done in Bologna, covering the topic of public transportation.

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