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How can citizen participation improve a city's lifestyle?

  • Thursday, December 15, 2022

  • Nowadays; digital consultation platforms are becoming a standard for cities that need to reach a larger audience and facilitate resident engagement with digital access.

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    Citizen participation can change cities by giving citizens a voice in the decisions that are made about their city. Citizen participation can also help to make cities more responsive to the needs of their citizens. 

    Some ways that citizens can participate in their city include:

    1. Attending city council meetings
    2. Voting in local elections
    3. Serving on city boards or commissions
    4. Volunteering with local organizations
    5. Participating in city surveys or focus groups
    6. Engage on digital consultation platforms

     Digital consultation is a game changer 

    Nowadays; digital consultation platforms are becoming a standard for cities that need to reach a larger audience and facilitate resident engagement with digital access. In countries like US, Canada, Chile, Spain, UK, France and Belgium, digital collective intelligence tools are now regularly used to co-create public policies and public projects.

    The example of the city of Barcelona is a good case to show how digital consultation platforms can be used to improve citizen participation. In 2002, Barcelona launched its participatory budgeting process, which allows citizens to decide how to spend a portion of the city’s budget. The process is facilitated by a digital consultation.

    Another good example is the Wallonia Region that used a digital participation platform to massively engage citizens in their post-covid relaunch plan in 2020. The platform, called “Get up Wallonia'', was used to collect citizens’ ideas and proposals on how to improve the quality of life in the Wallonia Region on various thematics : environment, local life, solidarity, economy etc...

    In the context of the energy crisis and pricing inflation, many cities use their recurring participatory tools to engage citizens in the collective effort needed to reduce energy consumption. For example, in Bruxelles or Strasbourg, the city councils have launched open and collaborative consultations designed to allow citizens to participate to the crisis resolution.

     Building a successful online participation process

     The success of a public consultation will depend on a variety of factors, including the topic of the survey, the target audience, and the promotional strategy and how often consultations are done. However, some tips on how to build a successful community engagement campaign include:

     1. Choose a topic that is relevant to your target audience. There are many potential topics that could be suitable for public consultation. Some examples could include plans for the development of a new public park or green space, proposals for major infrastructure projects, or the creation of a new policy or program that affects the public. Ultimately, the best topic for public consultation will depend on the specific needs and interests of the community in which the consultation is taking place. It's important to choose a topic that is relevant and important to the people who will be participating in the consultation.

     2. Make the survey easy to complete. Keep the questions short and simple, and provide clear and concise instructions. 

     3. Promote the survey widely. Use a variety of promotional channels, including social media, email, and - when possible - press and traditional media

    1. use a modern online participation platform providing all the tools to efficiently consult citizens and manage their participation (surveys, participatory budgeting, co-construction, collective intelligence)
    2. Consult citizens often and on a wide variety of subjects to train people to participate and create a culture of participation. 

    As more and more people become engaged in their communities, it's clear that citizen participation is an increasingly important part of our society. Online participation platforms offer a way for individuals to have a greater say in decision-making processes and can help promote greater transparency and accountability in government. They also contribute to the development of a participatory culture, which can help to foster a sense of community and belonging among residents, as they are given the opportunity to have a say in the decisions that affect their lives. This can lead to a greater sense of ownership and responsibility among individuals, which can in turn promote more active and engaged citizenry. Additionally, a participatory culture can lead to more effective and responsive governance, which can improve overall quality of life for all residents.