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Fluicity: How to bring citizens closer to their elected officials?

  • Thursday, August 13, 2015

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    An article by Julie de Pimodan, founder of Fluicity

    In France, 70% of people consider that politicians do not care about their opinion, 8 out of 10 people think that democracy does not work anymore and almost 40% of us did not go to vote in the last municipal elections, a record in the 5th Republic.

    These data made me wonder. Having lived for 7 years in the Middle East as a journalist, I went through Yemen, Tunisia, Turkey... where I saw people ready to fight for rights that we ourselves have stopped exercising.

    I then joined Google, where for four years I helped large companies use technology and data mining to communicate with their customers, understand them better, and adapt their decisions according to their expectations.

    After these experiences, I wondered if it was normal that we were closer to an American company than to our own elected representatives. Our habits have changed - we no longer inform ourselves and express ourselves as we did in 1958 - and if there is a gulf between the practices of the private sector and those of the public sector, this gulf is nothing compared to the one that is being created between governments and their citizens.

    How can we re-establish dialogue and bring elected officials and citizens closer together? We need a modern tool, in line with our new communication habits.

    In January 2015, I founded Fluicity. The idea is simple: to breathe new life into local citizenship by using new information technologies and data segmentation.

    What's missing in civic innovation today

    Before I explain what Fluicity is all about, I'd like to take a step back on the subject: "participatory democracy".

    Although it's been around for a long time, it's a concept that's still in vogue, so difficult has it been to find a solution.

    Until now, none of them have managed to involve citizens and their elected representatives around a single platform:

    • either the citizens send requests (petition type) which are not/less taken into account by the governments ;
    • or governments send information unilaterally to their constituents, without being able to measure their needs or their opinion.

    The result of this double speed communication is that nobody feels really involved. For our elected officials, the data collected is neither reliable nor representative, and no action is taken following these exchanges. On the citizen's side, we tell ourselves that these bottom-up initiatives are useless, that our opinion will not be taken into account. In short, the misunderstanding continues to grow with indifference and frustration.

    A modern solution for an old problem

    "I have never had a politician come up to me and talk to me and ask my opinion. I vote essentially by social pressure but without the slightest conviction that my vote matters", a Parisian confided to me yesterday via our "express yourself" page.

    Well, dear Sir, this is precisely what Fluicity is trying to transform! To achieve this, we rely on three pillars:

    • Exchange**: do you know the best cultural, restaurant, or sports events that take place every week in your neighborhood? Are you aware of the urban planning project that is being completed in your street or the solidarity initiative that will soon take place down the street from you? On Fluicity, you can find community news from your neighborhood, follow the topics that interest you and participate directly in local life with your smartphone.
    • Commitment**: you support a cause? Let us know! Your elected officials are listening to you and are committed to taking your opinion into account via Fluicity, because they have chosen this tool especially to communicate with you. They ask you questions, answer your requests and propose concrete solutions to the ideas you have raised.
    • Learning**: exchanging and engaging is good, but without collecting and organizing data to better understand the outcome of these interactions, Fluicity will not have achieved its goal. Our goal is also to allow communities to anticipate your needs in order to better meet your expectations. Because, like any manager, a mayor needs data to govern well, and his most reliable data is the opinion of his citizens.