Citizen surveillance of the state: A mirror for egovernment?

Publication Type:

Book Chapter


Volume 328, p.185–201 (2010)




© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2010. This paper discusses, conceptually and empirically, the role of geographic ICT (geoICT) and virtual globes (e.g. Google Earth) at the interface of public policy and citizens. Our preliminary findings from on-going field work in an Indian city and in Zanzibar suggest that virtual globe technology can potentially transfer to citizens surveillance power, traditionally held by the government. Starting from the traditional electronic government framework, where bureaucracy acts as a filter between policy makers and citizens with grievances, we outline an emerging framework where commercial virtual globes act as mediators between policy-makers and citizens. We show that the emerging framework holds the potential of allowing citizens concerned, in our case, about the quality of water services, to influence policy makers directly. The virtual globe acts as a mirror to the traditional eGovernment framework and lends a different societal visibility both to public services provision, and to localized citizens’ needs.