Silvia Luque, Fundació Ferrer i Guardia The participatory experience of the Municipality Action Plan through the decidim.barcelona platform
One of the biggest challenges in a hybrid online-offline participatory process is, precisely, how to balance participation in both spaces, virtual and face-to-face.
The oneline platform has been the amplifier of what was going on in the offline arena. It also gathered all the information and contributed to trace the participation footprint.
Of course, the digital platform itself held lots of debates and collected proposals directly online.
Mobile points — ad-hoc kiosks on the streets — provided offline feedback from what was happening online.
The online platform was both a participatory platform and a work platform: everyone worked within the platform. Both citizens and managers used the platform for all the tasks and procedures related to the participatory process.
There was a good balance between online and offline participation, though in the online platform there was slightly more participation. The platform, though, affected the topic: in wellbeing, there were more proposals offline, while in the topic of environment more proposals came online. This sure has to do with the profile of people that participate online or offline. On the other hand, face-to-face events were mostly organized by the city council, who did not organize the same amount of events for each and every topic of the Municipality Action Plan. Participation and proposals, also, not necessarily go hand in hand: one can find topics highly participated that produced relatively few proposals, and lowly participated topics that notwithstanding produced lots of proposals. The topic and the nature of the participation sure explain the differences.
The nature of participation was also diverse: make proposals, comment on the proposals, support others’ proposals, vote proposals, attend events, interact with a mobile point, comments on online debates.
New tools require new literacies and new working logics. And also taking into account the possibility that there is a digital divide. As online and offline behaved differently, the most promising approach is a hybrid one that enables both logics of participation.
Robert Bjarnason, citizens.is Digital tools for the democratic revolution in Iceland and beyond
Citizens must have a strong voice in policymaking with formal and persistent participation in the political process.
The Citizens Foundation created three open source tools:
Your Priorities, an idea and debate platform, on crowdsourcing. Your Priorities is about building trust between citizens and government.
Open Active Voting, on budget voting, but very pedagogical on how budgets work. Participatory budgets are not only about having a direct influence on expenditure, but also on knowing how much things cost and what it means to have a budget. After that, trust is built and better decisions are made in collaboration with citizens.
Active Citizen: improved participation with artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Artificial intelligence helps in participation with little time spent, helping to overcome bubbles and biases; virtual reality for data visualization and online meetings.
Participation must be fun, informative and educational. Yes, it has to be democratic, and rigorous. But also engaging, something you enjoy doing. Gamifying participation is a good approach for a successful participatory initiative.
Participation tools have to meet people where they are. Tools have to have a “mobile first” design in mind.
But the key for participation to succeed is that it has an impact. Decision-makers do have to listen and take into account what citizens say. If citizens feel they are participating for nothing, they will quickly move away from all other participatory processes.
Participation is also about communication and marketing: people do have to know to be able to participate. It’s not propaganda, but informing the citizen.
How do tell the quality of open data? How do we know about its usage?
We have a lot of data, but we lack the storytelling, the visuals.
What makes sense for a government, what can work for them, what makes sense for technicians.
We need open data champions.
The charter seems simple but its application is complex. It is a good idea to ‘deconstruct’ it principle by principle, recommendation by recommendation, and go step by step while aiming for the whole.
Create networks of cities that have adopted the charter and see how they did it.
Competitiveness and economic development
We have to identify what is the problem. But not like “unemployment is the problem” but more focused on people. And then, try to come up with an idea that most people will quickly understand because it relies with some other familiar initiative (e.g. “Facebook for dogs”).
We can create the “Tinder for data”, a meta-data portal for open data. It would identify data that could be open and thus create opportunities.
Smart and resilient cities
Bring the users in the design of the projects.
Identify the key role players and establish communication strategies among them.
How do we enable the measurement of vulnerability and how to address it. What defines a resilient city.
Interdisciplinary collaboration and organizational change
Better name: culture change for common understanding.
Start with the challenge.
Creating common context.
Actively create and maintain feedback.
Go across disciplines and across sectors.
Interaction between civil society organizations and between civil society organizations and governments.
Entrepreneurs, SMEs, etc.: they might find hard to find the kind of information that is relevant to them. What are they needs? What are the usual tasks that require data? Awareness on their needs and awareness of the possibilities of open data.
Try and draw a chronological story of data for firms: When starting a business, what is the information that you need? What is the government spending (procurement) in the field? What is the budget and what is the execution of that budget. Do I have benefits for operating in this field? What are the trends in my area?
Making city services accessible
It is very difficult for people to see the safety net, to know what public services can one citizen access.
To build a healthy ecosystem, accessible, interoperable, sustainable, that relates referral providers and social service services.
Standards and interoperability
A good way to understand standards and interoperability is by looking at the path that goes from raw data to indicators, in an aggregation process.
The big issue is that standards apply to very small portions of reality, while reality is much more complex. Open data, smart cities, open government, etc. begin to create their own specific (ad hoc) standards that often overlap.
Most of research results are not transparent. On the other hand, most citizens neither realize the importance of transparency nor where to get the data in case they would like to. staDatus aims at showing the state of transparency/open data portals.
staDatus is a community-based/crowdsourced project. It creates templates so that citizens can track and assess portals, especially according to what the law says. These tools will be designed with gamification methodologies in able to help citizens.
The project is made up by artists and architects and focuses on the solid waste that cities produce, with the aim to raise awareness on this issue. Another goal is to democratize art.
An app has been developed to help citizens and urban artists to share their works and to enable interaction between citizens and urban art.
The project aims at monitoring the behaviour of visitors in cultural institutions. Museums need to know what visitors do, what do they do, how do they move in order to be able to give them the best experience.
Re-thinking the museum has to take into consideration storytelling, interaction, etc.
The project has developed an app that mixes tracking with augmented reality. As the visitor moves inside the museum, the application will give the visitor (augmented reality) information, enable interaction, etc. On the other hand, this will also produce tracking data that the museum can use to reflect on the exposition or the cultural activity.
Goal: show/visualize the concerts happening all over the world as a galaxy/constellation according to the musical gender. Data comes from last.fm
The visualization can help to identify music styles geographic clusters, or how e.g. minority styles spread and evolve.
Expert panel on what is an open city: emerging trends, scaling opportunities, strengthening networks. Moderator: Antonio Moneo-Laín (IADB)
Barbara Ubaldi, OECD
Open data needs cities because cities know who the local actors are.
Because open data is about action.
Networks of cities — within the country or at the international level — are very important.
Jean-Noé Landry, Open North
How do we reconcile the opportunity of open data with the resilience of cities.
Most of the global open data movement has been led by citizens, nonprofits, etc. How can local governments empower these actors?
It is important what happens before data is released, what are the ethics behind making data available.
Where does the demand come from? Who has the means to ask for data? We have to look into that carefully.
Stephen Larrick, Sunlight
How do we scale local open data programmes and make them global (and sustainable)?
Risk-aversion can be “medicated” by showing that your programme works in another place.
Open formats also help to connect with other actors, to scale up.
If open data is not only about data but about decentralization of democracy, about engagement of the citizen, then this ethos has to be included in the very design of any open data initiative.
We have to link engagement to specific needs. Start with the needs of citizens, not with open data.
Dinand Tinholt, European Data
How do we make open data a priority?
Build upon what others are doing.
It is important that there also is an economic insight in open data. It may not be very “sexy” but it is important to bring in companies that will use open data for profit, as they contribute to make the system sustainable, to foster demand and to maintain it live.
City leaders panel: local issues and open data solutions, lessons learned, and setting short and long terms priorities Moderator: Alex Howard, Sunlight Foundation, What Works Cities initiative
Juan Prada, City of Montevideo (Uruguay)
The main reason to open data is the belief that data belongs to the citizen, not to agencies. Why should the citizen be charged for the use of their own data?
In 2008 the government began its open data strategy. After an initial publication of data, the government focused on enabling the creation of open data based services developed by the citizens, such as the adaptation of Fix My Street for Montevideo.
The service behind the open data initiative acts as thus, as a service, and so has a help-desk and an analysis unit to monitor usage and make proposals of new data sets to be published, etc.
Víctor Morlán, City of Zaragoza (Spain)
Same belief as Uruguay: access to data and public information is a basic right for citizens.
Now, all services that the City Council website creates use open data as a main source. Thus, there is no need to maintain different databases and services: open data becomes useful for the City Council itself.
Privacy is dealt with in the open data initiative, and everything that is published has gone through a thorough process of compliance with the law.
Stephane Contre, City of Edmonton (Canada)
After a first deployment, the big effort now has been publishing a “data analytics website” so that people that are neither tech-savvy or data-savvy can query the data themselves.
One of the big impact has been the internal use of open data. Using specific algorithms you can use open data to improve municipal services.
I am professor at the School of Law and Political Science of the Open University of Catalonia,
and researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute and the eLearn Center of that university.
I am also the director of the Open Innovation project at Fundació Jaume Bofill.