The European Physical Journal Special Topics

, Volume 214, Issue 1, pp 109–152

Towards a global participatory platform

Democratising open data, complexity science and collective intelligence


  • S. Buckingham Shum
    • Knowledge Media InstituteThe Open University
  • K. Aberer
    • Distributed Information Systems LaboratoryÉcole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL-IC-IIF-LSIR, Bâtiment BC
  • A. Schmidt
    • Institut für Visualisierung und Interaktive SystemeUniversität Stuttgart, Universitätstraße 38
  • S. Bishop
    • Dept. MathematicsUniversity College London
  • P. Lukowicz
    • Embedded Systems LabUniversity of Passau, IT-Zentrum/International House
  • S. Anderson
    • School of InformaticsUniversity of Edinburgh
  • Y. Charalabidis
    • Information Systems LaboratoryUniversity of the Aegean
  • J. Domingue
    • Knowledge Media InstituteThe Open University
  • S. de Freitas
    • Serious Games Institute, Coventry Innovation VillageCoventry University Technology Park
  • I. Dunwell
    • Serious Games Institute, Coventry Innovation VillageCoventry University Technology Park
  • B. Edmonds
    • Centre for Policy ModellingManchester Metropolitan University
  • F. Grey
    • Citizen Cyberscience CentreCERN, UNOSAT
  • M. Haklay
    • Dept. Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering University College London
  • M. Jelasity
    • Research Group on Artificial IntelligenceHungarian Academy of Science and University of Szeged
  • A. Karpištšenko
    • Skype Labs, Skype
  • J. Kohlhammer
    • Fraunhofer-Institut für Graphische Datenverarbeitung IGD
  • J. Lewis
    • Dept. AnthropologyUniversity College London
  • J. Pitt
    • Dept. Electrical & Electronic EngineeringImperial College London
  • R. Sumner
    • Disney Research Zurich
  • D. Helbing
Open AccessRegular Article

DOI: 10.1140/epjst/e2012-01690-3

Cite this article as:
Buckingham Shum, S., Aberer, K., Schmidt, A. et al. Eur. Phys. J. Spec. Top. (2012) 214: 109. doi:10.1140/epjst/e2012-01690-3


The FuturICT project seeks to use the power of big data, analytic models grounded in complexity science, and the collective intelligence they yield for societal benefit. Accordingly, this paper argues that these new tools should not remain the preserve of restricted government, scientific or corporate élites, but be opened up for societal engagement and critique. To democratise such assets as a public good, requires a sustainable ecosystem enabling different kinds of stakeholder in society, including but not limited to, citizens and advocacy groups, school and university students, policy analysts, scientists, software developers, journalists and politicians. Our working name for envisioning a sociotechnical infrastructure capable of engaging such a wide constituency is the Global Participatory Platform (GPP). We consider what it means to develop a GPP at the different levels of data, models and deliberation, motivating a framework for different stakeholders to find their ecological niches at different levels within the system, serving the functions of (i) sensing the environment in order to pool data, (ii) mining the resulting data for patterns in order to model the past/present/future, and (iii) sharing and contesting possible interpretations of what those models might mean, and in a policy context, possible decisions. A research objective is also to apply the concepts and tools of complexity science and social science to the project’s own work. We therefore conceive the global participatory platform as a resilient, epistemic ecosystem, whose design will make it capable of self-organization and adaptation to a dynamic environment, and whose structure and contributions are themselves networks of stakeholders, challenges, issues, ideas and arguments whose structure and dynamics can be modelled and analysed.

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© The Author(s) 2012