Changing the way policies are designed, decided and enforced…

an interview with NOMAD Coordinator Prof. Yannis Charalabidis

Yannis Charalabidis is Ass. Professor in the University of the Aegean, in the area
of eGovernance Information Systems, coordinating policy making, research and pilot
application projects for governments and enterprises worldwide. A computer
engineer with a PhD in complex information systems, he has been employed for
several years as an executive director in Singular IT Group, leading software
development and company expansion in Europe, India and the US. He writes and
teaches on Government Service Systems, Enterprise Interoperability, Government
Transformation and Citizen Participation.

Could you please tell
us a few words about the FP 7 subject area of the Nomad Project?

NOMAD is a research project under
the area of “ICT for Governance and Policy Modelling”, which addresses the
challenges of empowerment of citizens and increase transparency through the
utilization of ICT tools to support decision-making. The key research question
of this theme, paving the wave to Digital Science, is how ICT can transform
governance and policy making combining crowdsourcing techniques with data
mining functionalities and advanced methods of modeling and simulation, with
the objective of achieving open and collaborative governance.

What is the 2013 Samos

The project has recently co-organized the fourth “Samos 2013 Summit onDigital Innovation for Government, Business and Society”, which was held in the
island of Samos in Greece, on July 1 – 5, 2013. 
During the Summit, in which more than 100 high caliber research,
administrations and enterprises experts from 20 countries have participated,
new actions and guidelines for ICT in the context of the Digital Agenda and the
new Framework Programme HORIZON 2020 were presented. In addition, more than 15
international research projects, among them NOMAD, showcased their proposals
and shared ideas for new online services and tools for policy-making and

NOMAD had also the chance to exchange ideas with younger members of the
research community, the students of the 1st International Summer School on Open
and Collaborative Governance held in conjunction with the Samos 2013 Summit, to
whom project tutorials were provided.

Can you please
describe Nomad in a few and simple words?

The project aims to
introduce into the policy-making process an array of new techniques and
opportunities emerging through the massive use of the social web. Therefore, it
will deliver to decision-makers a comprehensive environment for content search,
acquisition, classification and visualization that will enable them understand
citizens’ opinion, arguments and needs as expressed in Web 2.0 and affect their
policy-making agenda. NOMAD’s vision can be summarized in “changing
the way policies are designed, decided and enforced”.
To achieve this, NOMAD
develops an innovative toolset employing techniques on data and opinion mining and the AI/ philosophy concerning the
conceptual representation of policies
and the argumentation theories.

Why is such a project
interesting for the Aegean University?

AEGEAN University is a
research organization with high expertise in Policy Modeling, Data Mining,
Evaluation Models and in general in the ICT-enabled governance area. Therefore,

in accumulating and expanding the knowledge that will stem from the project
through academic work and as well, disseminating NOMAD results in the
scientific community


Are there many RTD
projects around use of social media in policy-making, what is the specificity
of Nomad?

There are some other projects that exploit the power of Social Media in
the policy-making arena, for example PADGETS, WeGov, +Spaces, FUPOL etc.
However, what differentiates NOMAD from is what is called “non-moderated
crowdsourcing”, meaning that it searches on the Web places where users have
been expressed without any stimulation and collects massive amounts of data. In
addition content retrieved is correlated with specific components of policy
proposal as depicted in the policy model that the NOMAD user authors.

What do you consider
as a break-through innovation in the development of the project so far?

NOMAD, has so far released the
first prototypes of the innovative tools that are going to be integrated in the
final platform, among them the Model Authoring tool, for creating policy models
in an easy and intuitive way, a technique for processing and annotation of
arguments expressed in Social Web.

Who do you think the
end users will be?

Two policy institutions and
one NGO are already involved as end users in the pilot applications of NOMAD,
i.e. the Greek Parliament, the Austrian Parliament and the European Academy of
Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EACCI). Apart from policy makers and policy
advisors, which consist the core target group of NOMAD, a plenty of groups have
been identified as potential users that can benefit from the usage of the NOMAD
tools, such as journalists, researchers, business analysts, representatives of
NGOs, federations and associations. However, NOMAD will be an easy to use
system, available for every citizen who is interested in searching and analyzing
the Social Web against a specific topic.

The link between new
technologies and freedom of expression are important avenues for promoting
democracy. Are there risks on the right to freely express one-self emanating
from such a project?

NOMAD and other relevant
projects, processing content expressed freely on Web do it in and aggregated
way and preserve users’ anonymity, so that they comply on privacy
specifications laid down by the competent authorities. As soon as the identity
of sources of content is hidden, there is no risk on biasing freedom of

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