4591418 - 686 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SYSTEMS MAN AND...

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686 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SYSTEMS, MAN, AND CYBERNETICS—PART C: APPLICATIONS AND REVIEWS, VOL. 38, NO. 5, SEPTEMBER 2008 A Multiagent System for Assisting Citizens in Their Search of E-Government Services Pasquale De Meo, Giovanni Quattrone, and Domenico Ursino Abstract —In this paper, we present a multiagent system aiming at assisting citizens in the current e-government scenario charac- terized by a huge amount of heterogeneous services that makes it difficult to quickly answer citizen queries. We show that the adoption of intelligent agent technology makes our system capa- ble of helping a citizen in his search of services in such a way as to satisfy his interests and to face his needs; moreover, this tech- nology ensures a high level of proactivity because it can identify services potentially relevant to a citizen even though he has never required them explicitly; finally, it can enhance citizen participa- tion to decisional processes because it can encourage citizens to form communities who can debate in such a way as to propose the activation of new services of interest to them. Index Terms —e-Government systems, multiagent systems, personalized search of services, social networks. I. I NTRODUCTION T HE TERM “e-government” indicates the exploitation of information and communication technology (ICT) in order to both simplify and improve the interaction between citizens and government agencies [1]. In the last few years, both local and national governments worldwide have begun and encouraged e-government programs [2]. These initiatives have been generally appreciated, and sev- eral studies point out that many citizens and businesses are increasingly requiring online services to their governments [1]. The current usage of e-government systems is just a pre- lude for a wider and more radical change of the citizen–public administration relationships. In this scenario, two particularly challenging issues are: the provision of highly personalized ser- vices [3] and the need of revitalizing democratic processes by strengthening citizen participation to decisional processes [4]. As for the former issue, we observe that government agencies handle a large variety of services encoded in different formats. The heterogeneity of service representation is a particularly rel- evant problem because each government agency is usually the only responsible of its own services and can individually choose a specific format to both represent and handle information about them. At the same time, in order to submit their queries, Manuscript received January 24, 2007; revised July 5, 2007 and October 9, 2007. This paper was presented under the title “A Multi-Agent System for Efficiently Managing Query Answering in an E-Government Scenario” at the Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Applied Computing (SAC 2006), Di- jon, France. This paper was recommended by Associate Editor L. Sheremetov.
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