Nowadays, public policies need to be continuously reviewed and adapted to face unforeseen issues or to react to emergency situations, for instance, to face the consequences of the on-going systemic crisis. Rapidly evolving contexts exert influence on policy makers who have to take decisions much faster and more accurately than in the past. Very often, they do not have other choices than 'acting for the emergency'.
This demand for more agility is particularly felt at European level where the complexity of the EU lawmaking process does not facilitate a prompt adaptation to new circumstances. The EU legislative process is often criticised for being too inefficient and difficult to understand.
Although the Smart Regulation policy has led to significant progress, much can still be done to streamline policy making, especially the steps requiring 'scientific evidence' (e.g. impact assessments) and 'consultation' with external stakeholders. Indeed, the potential of ICT to facilitate the gathering of evidence as well as the engagement of stakeholders is still largely untapped.
In addition to the demand for more agility, evidence and participation, there is also a growing need to improve anticipatory thinking in policy making practices. New policies are often conceived on the basis of current trends rather than to capture the future opportunities given, for instance, by long term advances in science and technology. Today's increasing demand for sustainable grows measures calls for new ambitious policies that tap into Europe's creativity and long-term research and innovation potential.
Digital Futures addresses these issues by experimenting and piloting a new approach to policy making (Policy Making 3.0) characterised by:
Evidence: use the internet to gather instantaneous real world data from which knowledge is extracted and used to dynamically (re)shape policy actions. This allows to timely monitor the impact of policies (e.g. through statistics, real-time sensing, simulation, etc.) and to take more informed decisions. This would strengthen the accuracy of policy making processes.
Participation: use social media to establish a direct and continuous bridge within and between policy makers and external stakeholders with a view to gather opinions, improve and validate policy ideas. This would allow gathering informed opinions, improve and validate policy ideas and ultimately build openness, transparency and legitimacy into the policy making processes.
Anticipation: use foresight methodologies to embed anticipatory thinking and visioning in policy design, beyond incremental improvements and refinement of current policies. This would allow to anticipate opportunities and risks, thus improving the strategic base of policy making.
Agility: scientific evidence, anticipation and participation in turn enable a more rapid and future-proof development, review and adaptation of policies. Similar to the metaphor of agile project management, policies are developed through a series of incremental versions which are continuously monitored, reviewed and adapted as needed, thus improving rapidity, flexibility and resilience of policy making processes.