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SENSE4US CONFERENCE - Policy Making in a Complex World


Policy Making in a Complex World

The final SENSE4US conference took place on the 8th of December 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. The conference theme was “Policy Making in a Complex World - Can technology restore trust in European decision-making?” and it brought together parliamentarians, policy makers, academics and civil society members from across Europe in order to discuss a multitude of themes linked with the subject of sufficient policy-making.

The main question remained: “Can technology restore trust in European decision-making?

It is indeed a turbulent time in global and European politics. As Ruth Fox mentioned “Trust is almost unobtainable in the sector of politics. Politicians are never greatly trusted; due to the fact that the culture of politics makes trust difficult. In no other service are there so many other professionals pointing out your misdoings to the public”. But new technologies can help support our democracy by enabling policy makers to better understand, engage and build the trust of the public when considering the policies that affect their lives. 


Speakers in Action

Oktavia Hrund who attended the conference from Iceland via webcam also took part in the discussion concerning the subject of online political discussion. Specifically, she analyzed the prevailing tendency, according to which “Politicians nowadays have the ability to reach out to a wide array of people, but in the process of digital communication, discussion fails. Even though there are so many people who follow the latest developments, they choose not to engage in conversation, because they feel disempowered.” She continued by saying “If politicians wish to win the trust of people, then they mustn’t be afraid of saying something “wrong” online, thus motivating the people to further conduct a discussion”.

During the event participants also addressed how new technologies can help support our democracy, revealing a novel path for the future of decision-making. The stakeholders were informed about how digital tools and technologies can enable policy makers’ access and summarize a wide array of relevant data, taking into account the views of citizens on policy issues and better acknowledging the implications of proposed policies. 

Moreover, the latest version of the project’s toolkit was showcased to the general public combined with a demo that gave better understanding of each tool’s use and possibilities. Specifically, the toolkit brings together the potential to help policy-makers and legislators gain insights through open data, social media sentiment and text analysis and policy simulation.


Lively conversation, exchange of knowledge from the attendees and the demonstration of the latest SENSE4US toolkit, presented some cutting edge solutions for issues faced by policy-makers. The end of the event also signaled the approaching ending of the productive SENSE4US project’s cycle, which has now completed its 39 months duration.