Happy Friday to you, dear reader! Can you believe this is already the 15th edition of our recurring Reads of the Week selections?

If you’ve been following us from the start, we’d love to thank you for such unwavering loyalty. And if you’re new here, welcome to our community of civic tech aficionados! As always, you can browse through our previous selections on the blog

So what do we have up our sleeves this week? We’ll be taking a look at fast-growing cities, data and decision-making, participatory art, the modernisation of election processes, and … well, let’s just say there’s no age limit on participation.

1. “Healthy, happy and tropical – world’s fastest-growing cities demand our attention” by The Conversation

What makes a city happy and healthy? Due to the world’s history of colonisation, most answers to that question have a European-centric touch. Cities in the tropics are often melting pots of different people, cultures and architectural styles, and they differ significantly from the European metropoles we know so well.

How do these cities tackle their challenges? How do they ensure their citizens’ happiness and wellbeing? And how do these strategies differ from the ones we use in Europe? This article aims to answer those questions. A must-read for everyone who’s curious to see what’s going on beyond their own backyard.

2. “Data is about much more than decision-making” by Statescoop

“Why do we care about leveraging data as an asset in government?” It’s critical for better decision-making, but that’s not all. Data has the potential to transform how our social institutions respond to some of society’s most complex questions.

Besides the “better decision-making” argument, this article offers 4 more benefits of data use in government: feedback loops, the optimization of operations, cross-functional and user-centred organisations and a renewed social contract.

Sounds complicated? This article explains it all, clear as a bell. A must-read for data-lovers and anyone looking to invest in data-driven governments.

3. “Cities can boost citizen engagement with art – here’s how” by Apolitical

In urban communities, it’s common practice to empower local communities or spruce up neighbourhoods through art. Too often though, participatory art is more “about helping people to accept their daily conditions, rather than to change them.” Rather than challenging the status-quo and improving the situation as it is, participatory art is too often seen as a quick fix for people to “make the best out of it.”

Participatory art has more potential, though, and can have a true impact on the empowerment of local communities. And that’s exactly what this article explores. A must-read if you’re an art-fanatic, or curious to see how creative self-expression can make communities stronger.

4. “How automation can modernize election processes” by GovTech

When we head to the ballot box, we’ve come to expect long lines and time-consuming manual voting processes. It’s the digital age, though, so shouldn’t there be another way?

This paper explores how two USA cities updated their election systems and how these improvements have helped them to reduce costs, increase efficiency and generally offer them a better voting experience. You can download the paper for free (you’ll need to register, though) and get inspired on how these tweaks could apply to your local voting process.

5. “100-year-old German woman elected to local council” by CNN

To end on a light-hearted note, here’s the ultimate reminder that politics and participation have no age limit! In Sunday’s election, the small west-German town Kirchheimbolanden elected a 100-year-old woman to represent them in the local council.

“Now that I’m 100, I’m in a different position. Now I have the chance to open my mouth and say something,” says centenarian Lise Heise. An example for everyone aiming to diversify their councils, or attempting to attract more elderly people in their participation processes.

And that’s it for our weekly catch-up! Ready for more? Check out our previous selections on the blog, download our brand-new comprehensive e-guide on participatory budgeting, or contact our experts to get started with digital participation in your city!

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