A joint study by researchers at Rutgers-Newark and Sungkyunkwan
University, Korea, of the official websites of the world’s major cities
ranked Seoul, New York, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Sydney as the top five
municipalities in “digital governance.” They define "Digital governance" as "the
degree to which a website – in this instance those of 100 large cities
worldwide – enhances citizens’ ability to learn about and participate
in governmental affairs."
The New York official government website was ranked first worldwide
in terms of usability. It got much lower scores for "citizen participation" however, ranking 13th, well below other cities like Shanghai, Warsaw, and Bratislava.
The researchers used a country’s largest city as a proxy for all the cities in that country, which is a pretty rough guess at best. In the United States, you will probably find that smaller municipalities like Denver or Boston might be doing a much better job on a number of these indexes than New York.
They limited their scope to countries with online populations of over 160,000, which put 98 countries into the pool of subjects. They ranked each country’s largest city based on five major categories: 1. Security and Privacy; 2. Usability; 3. Content; 4.Services; and 5. Citizen Participation, which were broken down into 98 seperate measurements.
The report singled out Seoul, Korea as notable as a best practice city:
Seoul has a well developed website in all five e-governance categories. In particular, it was the top ranked city in the areas of Privacy/Security, Content, Service and Citizen Participation. Seoul’s Cyber Policy Forum, established in 2003, is representative of the municpality’s efforts towrard enhancing online citizen particpation. The Cyber Policy Forum aims to, “provide citizens with opportunities to understand policy issues and to facilitate discussions; to encourage citizen participation in public administration and to obtain feedback about policy issues; and to reflect citizens’ opinions in city policies and produce more tailored policy solutions for citizens.” So it is no surprise that Seoul’s performance in the area of Citizen Participation remains as the top ranked among all municipal websites evaluated. … Seoul provides citizens with opportunities to participate in governmental processes, including well-organized and systematic opportunities to submit their ideas and suggestions on proposed policies via policy forums in which citizens can freely suggest policy ideas and agendas to public servants…
The full report is available, as well an executive summary and press release. It would be interesting to compare this study with other similar comparative e-governance / e-participation analyses of different cities and countries of the world.