e-petitions are they a resource for PR?

The UK equivalent of the White House, 10 Downing Street, has established an e-petition service enabling UK citizens to create petitions on pretty well anything. Currently over 7000 petitions are active and they cover a multitude of topics. It struck me that these petitions give a glimpse of the topics that are affecting a nation (which should be useful insight for consumer lead businesses). They also potentially create a vehicle to put items on the public agenda far more quickly and cost effectively than would have been the case before the Internet arrived. Of course, scanning the petitions is a pretty manual effort right now but the government has done a pretty good job of breaking down petitions currently active into sections.