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Policymaking for the 21st century: How digital tools can help

This briefing provides an overview of how digital tools can transform the policy process to become more timely, inclusive, data-driven and user-focused.

Key findings

  • Using digital tools for all stages of the policy cycle: overview of success stories from across the world
  • Country results reveal striking variations across Europe in relation to citizens’ interest in using digital tools to participate in politics
  • Four key questions to guide policymakers as they assess the use of digital tools in the policy process

Over the past few years, we have witnessed the rise of completely new markets, business models and technologies, from crowdfunding to the sharing economy and driverless cars. Policymakers need to react fast without stifling innovation, but traditional, offline methods make it difficult to keep up with the pace of technological change. Governments across the world have started to successfully integrate digital tools into their work.

This report reveals inspirational stories from across the world that look at how digital tools can be used successfully throughout the policy lifecycle. To understand how ready is Europe, we have surveyed 9,000 adults across Europe to assess citizens’ interest to participate in politics online.

Country results reveal striking differences across Europe: interest is particularly high in some former Eastern Bloc countries like Bulgaria and Poland, as well as in nations badly hit by the economic crisis, such as Spain or Italy; while citizens in countries with strong and stable welfare states like Sweden, show the least interest in digital policymaking.

Policy recommendations

For policymakers interested to explore the use of digital tools in the policy process, start by asking these four key questions:

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • Who do you want to reach?
  • Which tools are more appropriate?
  • How will digital tools interact with the political process?

Part of


Olivia Chapman

Olivia Chapman

Olivia Chapman

Senior Programme Manager, Future of Work

Olivia was a senior programme manager at Nesta.

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Valerie Mocker

Valerie Mocker

Valerie Mocker

Director, Development & European Digital Policy

Valerie and her team focused on helping policy makers, corporates, entrepreneurs and society make the most of the digital transformation.

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