It’s Friday, and this week our must-reads from the realm of civic tech are taking us to all corners of the globe. Are you ready for a trip around the world? If you prefer to stay on familiar ground for now, head to our blog to check out our previous selections.

1. “Milk, bread, democracy: New Zealanders get to vote in supermarkets” by The Guardian

Our first stop is New Zealand, where changes are being implemented in order to make the elections in 2020 more accessible and more democratic. Voters will now be allowed to enrol and vote on the same day, and voting booths will be placed in busy public places. In short, New Zealanders will be able to cast their vote while shopping for groceries.

It’s important that ballot boxes are placed where people are going about their normal business and can therefore accommodate voting more easily into their busy lives,” says Justice Minister Andrew Little. A must-read for democracy lovers and everyone who does groceries once in a while.

2. “LOTI launch – New cross-borough London initiative puts the emphasis on citizen-focused digital services” by Diginomica

London, baby! Last week, the UK capital was delighted with a new birth: LOTI, a.k.a. the London Office of Technology and Innovation. This new cross-borough initiative aims to stimulate collaboration between local government organisations to deliver all that technology, data and digital services to citizens and businesses across London.

This way, LOTI hopes to tackle some key concerns for the city, such as population growth, traffic congestion, environmental sustainability, housing and inequality, with a digital approach. A must-read for local governments who like a digital touch.

3. “UK lawmakers announce citizens’ assembly to steer climate strategy” by Climate Change News

We’re holding halt in London for a little longer, because the UK is planning to organise a citizen’s assembly to discuss possible ways to steer climate policy. “Climate change affects all of us, so today’s announcement of a citizens’ assembly is an ideal way to give a voice to the people”, says MP and chair of the treasury committee Nicky Morgan.

This non-binding assembly will discuss how to share the potential costs of the shift to a clean economy while keeping vulnerable and fossil fuel dependent communities into account. A must-read for engaged citizens or local governments looking to give their citizens a voice on important topics.

4. “Ghana is adopting a data-driven approach to fighting poverty” by Vox

Ghana, West-Africa’s “golden child”, is preparing for a new census in March. And they are determined to count every single person in the country, including the so-called “invisible” ones: those living in slums, on the streets, or in institutions.

To do so, they’ve adopted a digitalised approach. They gather more accurate and comprehensive data thanks to the use of digital tablets, and they use satellite imagery to make sure households in rural areas don’t go undiscovered and uncounted. Without knowing what these people need, there’s no way the government can measure whether those needs are met, and that’s why this evolution is such an important one. A must-read for everyone with a soft spot for data used for the greater good.

5. “How Latin America Can Use its Natural Resource Wealth Responsibly” by Americas Quarterly

We’re crossing another ocean and landing in Latin America. Many countries in the region have made large leaps in improving transparency in the extractive sector, but at the same time, corruption remains a persistent issue. Transparency is one thing, but are there other things that these countries can do to improve this situation? This article explores a few possible approaches, and spoiler: citizen participation is one of them.

“In sum, transparency is fundamental and necessary, but not enough. Accountability and citizen participation are critical to strengthening governance in the extractive sector (…)”, says the article. A must-read for anyone who’s interested to see how communities can grow and thrive with citizen participation.

6. “Half public sector say they do “nowhere near enough” to involve citizens” by Smart Cities World

As our cities become more and more technological in nature, it also becomes increasingly more important to engage citizens. But so far, that doesn’t seem to be happening. According to this article, “half of both public sector organisations and private sector service providers (…) say they do “nowhere near enough” to engage citizens in the development of their city (…).” This is just one of the findings of some brand new research that Smart Cities World conducted about citizen engagement.

A must-read for everyone who’s interested in improving citizen engagement in their community.

That’s it for our list of this week! If you’re looking for more, download our comprehensive e-guides on participatory budgeting or inclusion in e-democracy, or contact our experts to get started with digital participation in your city!

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