Invisible villages says the rise of the internet means that 'where people have engaged on-line around local issues, there has been some tendency to bypass traditional democratic institutions'.
The network argues that the possibilities offered through new technology for residents to involve themselves in local issues will mean councils must play a new enabling role, based on the emerging
ideas of localism.
'This is not about the heroic civic leadership model of old, but a new way of working informed by diverse and multi-layered communities,' the report says.
'This 'techno-localism' looks ahead to the next stage of e-government into real local debate and discussion.'
Local government should therefore not see technology as a threat but as a means to find different roles 'in a newly devolved world'.
Such changes can seem threatening to councils, leading them to dig in to defend a traditional role, the network says.
Instead they should encourage the spread of technology to link themselves to residents, and residents with each other, and exercise a 'pluralist community leadership role'.