WHY INCLUSIVE DIGITAL PARTICIPATION MATTERS

Digital transformation is changing relationships between state and society. Through digital technologies we can design collaborative and inclusive processes working towards a solution.
This is valid for various actors. Public institutions can engage citizens differently on newly planned projects. Civil society organisations can interact with their target groups and mobilise for joint advocacy.

Image by NESA by Makers

FIVE ARGUMENTS FOR DIGITAL PARTICIPATION

1. Digital Participation actually fosters participation.

Digital participation is independent from time and location. You can engage citizens irrespective of their location. You can reach people that normally would shy away and not attend face-to-face meetings – there are various reasons why people are inhibited from attending meetings. You can combine digital participation with face-to-face formats, because not everyone feels at home using digital tools and because in some conversation situations it is better to be able to look each other in the eye. Through a so-called blended participation approach, you can achieve inclusive participation.

2. Digital Participation increases trust and transparency.

We know that top-down decision-making is increasingly less accepted. Decisions that are made without the participation of those affected often fail to meet their needs, often lead to frustration in the affected communities. Through digital participation, citizens’ needs, ideas and arguments can be heard, listed and made transparent. Everyone is able to follow the course of discussions – even beyond the time horizon of a specific project or initiative.

3. Digital Participation can easible be adapted and scaled.

There are various cases for which you can use digital tools for participation: for collecting citizens’ ideas on new projects; for getting feedback or ideas for the municipal budget; to vote on new initiatives or to simply inform about current or planned infrastructure projects. The number of people has no real limit, so you can easily scale a participation process. It is thus a good combination with face-to-face meetings where, in most cases, you need to worry about rental costs for venue, catering etc. We will show you how to use Open Source participation platforms as an easily adaptable possibility.

4. Digital Participation improves your results.

Through digital participation you can broaden the scope of people that can bring in their issues and perspective on a specific matter. This will generate new knowledge, reveal new ideas and assist in creating new innovation. Tapping into knowledge of others can broaden your own horizon and helps you to tackle challenges perhaps in a different way.

5. Digital Participation strengthens ownership.

If you allow people in your community to have a stronger stake and say at current issues and topics, people with have a stronger identification with what you are planning. Digital participation tools can assist in that. By engaging people on for example new ideas for their neighbourhood, they will be more likely to assist in implementing ideas and also accept if decisions are taken in a different direction.