As governments across the world increasingly offer their services online, studies evaluating the performance of such online services (broadly referred to as “e-governance”) primarily focus on federal, state, and local governments. Only a few studies have produced comparative analyses of e-governance in municipalities worldwide.
Professor Aroon P. Manoharan at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School has recently completed an international survey of city websites to highlight innovative digital practices. First conducted in 2003 and repeated every two years, Manoharan’s scholarship represents a continued effort to evaluate e-governance in large municipalities around the globe.
Working with his research partner Marc Holzer, PhD at the E-Governance Institute at Rutgers University-Newark, Manoharan’s project involved evaluating each municipality’s website in its native language to examine how the local constituency perceives their government online. Findings highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each municipality on issues of privacy and security, usability, content, services, and citizen and social engagement.
The 2015-16 report also ranks the cities on a global scale, with Seoul, South Korea topping the chart.
According to Manoharan, “The study identifies global best practices in multiple dimensions of e-governance and examines performance from a longitudinal perspective. The results enable those working in the field to compare and share best practices, particularly as nations are beginning to develop smart cities which integrate municipal functions and services to the information technology framework.”
The study shows an improved performance in municipal e-governance globally, after having decreased slightly in the previous 2011 and 2013 surveys. The latest survey highlights greater focus by cities on website usability and the need for more emphasis on citizen participation and social engagement online.
The top-ranked cities for each continent are Johannesburg (Africa), Seoul (Asia), Helsinki (Europe), New York (North America), Auckland (Oceania), and Buenos Aires (South America).
Although New York City lands in the top ranked cities, other North American municipalities as a whole fall below Oceania and Europe, and, in most years surveyed, place below the average score worldwide.
Manoharan notes that the continued study of municipalities worldwide will further provide insight into the direction and performance of e-governance throughout the regions of the world.
“This study highlights innovative practices in municipal e-governance and establishes standards for excellence for other cities and regional governments across the world,” says Dean David W. Cash of UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. “Such a global and comparative perspective provides a broader understanding of the phenomenon of e-governance, and enables public administrators and policy makers to learn critical lessons from the experiences of others.”