GIPO: what is the sustainable governance model for Internet Policy Observatory? – Pre 04 2017

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5 June 2017 | 13:00 - 14:30 | Room Tartu, Swissotel, Tallinn, Estonia
Programme overview 2017

About the session

The Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO), an initiative of the European Commission, is an online tool to help monitor developments on Internet policy around the world and provide better understanding and access to the largest number of potential stakeholders. Governments, NGOs and others interested in Internet Governance, including Internet users, are often daunted by the complexity of this fast-paced policy area. Thanks to the use of advanced IT technologies, GIPO provides a practical tool to navigate this field, increasing expertise and understanding among many more interested actors. Other observatories also attempt to map actors, institutions and issues in internet governance, and whilst they may all do this in different ways (for example, manual or automated collection), a discussion on sustainable governance models may well be fruitful for all.

In the third year of the GIPO initiative, some of the Advisory Group members gather in an open session to discuss GIPO´s future governance structure and its way forward. At the end of 2017, European Commission seed funding for the initiative will come to an end. We invite you to join in a discussion on sustainable governance models for GIPO and other Internet Policy Observatories. The objective is to highlight the benefits –as well as the challenges– of sustaining Observatories that are designed to promote awareness, encourage learning, and keep stakeholders informed about the constantly evolving internet governance ecosystem.

On the agenda are several issues that we wish to address in an ongoing conversation before the end of December.

First and foremost, one of the central challenges to the widespread acceptance of GIPO is the volume of content that is indexed by the tool. Despite the fact that this is an automated tool, it does require human intervention. GIPO does not crawl the entire worldwide web to generate its search results; it uses sources that are curated by individuals. In order for the tool to be useful and sustainable, it needs a solid repository of sources from which it can analyse and categorise information. The current list of sources is extensive but in need of widening and broadening, particularly as the tool has global ambitions. Contribution to this list of sources is a necessary task to ensure that GIPO achieves its objectives. This is particularly necessary from regions outside of North America and (most of) the European Union.

One possible solution to address this need for representative and uptodate sources is to establish regional working groups that will provide input to the list of sources used by the tool. These regional working groups would contribute –on an ad hoc basis– websites, news feeds and other sources that can be integrated into the Observatory.

In addition to the question of desirability of this option, we want to address whether such a regional working group structure would be manageable and feasible (if not funded)? How do other observatories ensure global coverage of their mapping activities? Should we enter partnerships to make this possible, or can we ‘rely’ on members of the GIPO Advisory Group to identify and seek out partners from each of the world’s regions?

Secondly, as the tool now enters its post-seed funding phase, we need to understand what sort of governance structure is required for this automated tool. It appears that some sort of guidance would continue to be useful for the tool. We see this role as continuing to spread the word about the tool, helping evaluate various new functionalities, and providing a point of contact for general (non-technical) questions about the tool. Given the fact that we do not intend to undergo dramatic technical innovations, questions could legitimately be raised about the need for a guiding structure. If there should be one, how should this be organised? If this is to be a voluntary process (as it has been also under European Commission seed funding), how should this be continued?

Finally, we wish to reflect on the tool’s evolution since IES Policy Brief 2016 publication on ‘Building Better Multistakeholderism.’ This paper set out eight key recommendations to help push the GIPO tool forward, ranging from technical and content-based questions, to audience and future institutional structure. One year later, it is worth visiting these recommendations to see how these have been integrated and what remains to be done before the end of the project.

By the end of the session, we want to have addressed the following issues:

  • Who hosts and manages the tool now, and who will do so in the future?
  • How is content added to the tool now, and who can do this in the future?
  • What does it mean to use GIPO now, and who should do so in the future?

The event will have the following structure:

13.00-13.20 Quick presentation of the GIPO Observatory Tool status
13.20-13.45 Community building in GIPO: Should we build Regional Working Groups?
13.45-14.10 Sustainability of GIPO: does an automated tool need a governance structure?
14.10-14.30 Helping improve multi-stakeholderism by increasing the number of stakeholders and the usefulness of the tools: GIPO’s role

This session is open to all EuroDig2017 participants.

More information available on

Relevant documents


How does the Observatory Tool Works

Federation Roadmap II


This session is coordinated by:

GIPO´s Advisory Group Co-ordinators: Jamal Shahin and Trisha Meyer, IES, VUB

GIPO´s Stakeholder Engagement: Kasia Jakimowicz