In recent years, technological evolution has made it easier, more efficient and transparent to collect and process the citizens’ input. Now, if you opened this article you must be convinced or at least interested in the idea that citizen engagement is a good thing. You might be curious and ask yourself if it is possible to engage citizens in decision-making processes, without requiring a huge amount of resources. Guess what? It’s possible.
It is the government’s duty to create interactions between citizens, but also between citizens and the government itself. Facilitating citizen participation in decision-making processes has now become an absolute priority for local administrations.
Benefits of using an online platform, by a local government to communicate with its citizens:
- Clear communication – Convince citizens that your project is trustworthy. They will need to feel like they are given that trust back.
- A bigger and more diverse audience, at a lower cost – An online approach is more accessible and, therefore, it guarantees to reach a broader and varied audience.
- More public support for decisions & Transparency – You create more transparency for your actions, you can share the necessary information, and it becomes easier for residents to engage directly with policymakers.
- Increased efﬁciency and responsiveness – Citizens’ ideas are no longer shared on post-its or notes but can be gathered as digital data that can be processed quickly and automatically.
- Improved quality of decision-making and administrative innovation – Having a wider reach makes it easier to respond to what’s happening in your community.
Society has changed, but mainstream political culture is staying behind.
Because the style of large-scale politics is out of touch with the way in which citizens communicate, it has grown more distant than ever. Although our political-institutional setting is rapidly making innovations at the local level, it still largely relies on elections for its contact with citizens at the regional, national and global level.
The internet is by definition a method of social engagement. The population that remains offline is diverse and dispersed. Many organisations want to help tackle digital exclusion, which is a new opportunity to tackle and a positive fact for both the citizens and the authorities.
Digital connectivity fills all aspects of public policy. All social and economic interventions can be ‘digital-proofed’ to assess to what extent they have a real impact on those who are not connected and what opportunities they provide to help those who are offline to get access.
In a community where the connectivity is essential, our quality of life improves the most when we feel engaged citizens and empowered. Social connectivity and the ability to play a role in the community are essential to making the citizens feel happy. So, do not hesitate to encourage your community and your city hall to engage themselves in the decision making processes, because there are unlimited solutions to be explored.