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Citizen Participation Platforms

E-participation [1][2][3][4][5] enables citizens to use digital technologies or platforms, e.g., combination of geographic information systems (GIS), Web 2.0 and mobile technologies (including video, mobile messaging and Internet access), for communication, engagement and deliberation on policy or planning challenges.  

 

Engagement and participation are vital tools in climate adaptation and environmental decision making as these entail increased community acceptance, support for climate actions, and provide new insights based on local knowledge [12]. Citizens can be consumers as well as producers of useful data for policy development and decision making (WeGovNow, Smarticipate, AI4PublicPolicy). 

 

There are multiple degrees of citizen participation ranging from passive, i.e., being simply informed, to responsive, i.e., contribute to consultation, to active, i.e., being fully empowered by having final decisions delegated to them (see Arnstein’s ladder [6]) [7]. In e-participation initiatives, both top-down (i.e., issues identified by public authority) and bottom-up (i.e., citizens led initiative) approaches can be applied. As multiple actors (i.e., different departmental units) are involved in the provision of e-participation, cross-organizational issues related to ownership and accountability may arise [3].  

 

Technologies supporting government processes (GovTech) can add great value to participatory processes (e.g., access to sensor kits, web portals and data), as shown by examples of Madrid (Decide Madrid), Bristol (Bristol Approach to citizen sensing e.g., air quality, solid fuel burning etc.) [7], and Brussels (Curieuzenair). E-participation is usually considered part of e-government [5]. 

 

E-Government (or Electronic-Government) [1][2][8] refers to the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to government functions and procedures with the objective to increase efficiency of government agencies, enhance delivery of public services, and facilitate low cost and faster public engagement with public authorities. A comparative survey [8] of global e-government performance of municipalities highlights the best e-governance practices. It uses five categories of measures: privacy and security, usability, content, service and citizen and social engagement. For citizen and social engagement category Shanghai, Auckland, Seoul, Madrid, Paris, and Lisbon are ranked top cities for year 2018-19. 

 

Open Governance [9] is about transparency of and access to government data and decision making process so that innovative forms of collaborative actions (i.e. bottom-up and top-down) can be applied to solve policy problems, raise awareness, increase public participation, change behaviour, promote e-democracy, and revolutionise traditional service provision [10][11]. It is closely associated with open government data that can provide new insights about issues and services as well as offers the opportunities to participate, comment and influence plans and policy agenda to foster greater citizen participation. 

 

 

E-participation solutions range from responding to planning e.g., top-down to bottom-up urban regeneration [Smarticipate] or policy challenge [WeGovNow] or reporting a local problem (e.g., Bristol’s FixMyStreet); or bottom-up budget planning (e.g., Helsinki’s participatory budgeting) or accessing open data (e.g., Hamburg’s Transparency portal).  

 

There are several e-participation initiatives where various ICT tools are used to deliver different public services. For instance,  

Cross border e-governance initiatives such as [ACROSS], [DE4A] and [GLASS] go beyond one city’s public administrative level (even at EU level and beyond [iKaaS]) and deal with cross-border interoperable, mobile [mGov4EU] and privacy-aware public services.  

MATURITY: 

 

Many e-government and e-participation tools are available at higher TRL and are already being used by municipalities for public services and e-participation, e.g., open source Consul platform is being used in 35 countries by 135 institutions; Similarly, Organicity tools are used for over 35 experiments in various cities

 

Some of the example solutions fall under validation and demonstration category such as DUET and Smarticipate.  

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AIT
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Citizen participationGovernance and policyClimate resilienceAnalytics and modellingTechnology
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