“We have been pioneers in citizen participation, but this time we really want to accelerate and change paradigm so as to hit a milestone.”

– Jean-Christophe Peterkenne, Strategy Director of the City of Liège.

And they definitely did. With its CitizenLab platform #RéinventionsLiège, the city of Liège (Belgium) collected more than 1,000 proposals and 95,000 votes. Almost 30,000 visitors browsed the platform which represents around 15% of the city population.

The online citizen participation project

réinventons liège

After an open call to ideas on the online platform #RéinventonsLiège, the City opened the votes. Ultimately, the best ideas will be designated and will be integrated in the City Plan. Ideas gathered were then classified into the following topics: mobility, energy transition, participatory and collaborative city, art, culture, heritage, tourism, green spaces and urban planning.

The Key Success Factors of Liège’s citizen engagement platform

1. Motivated & devoted administration employees

The employees of the City of Liège have shown great dedication and adhesion to the citizen participation project, with sustained feedback efforts and permanent contact with users. Who were the people involved within the administration? The operational side was managed by one platform key user: the Smart City Manager of Liège, occasionally assisted by other city clerical employees. The communication side was handled by the Communication Department of the city itself.

2. Well-targeted & creative communication

réinventons liège citizenlab

The Liège Communication Department did a great job in making sure the majority of residents would be well aware of this online citizen participation initiative. This communication success relied on well-targeted, smart efforts.

We listed them below according to the Paid, Owned, Earned framework:

On Owned channels:

  • Intranet: the administration made sure to build on the motivation of the employees through their internal communication tool
  • Website: announcement and communications on the homepage
  • Social Media: fun and creative Twitter and Facebook posts
  • Information meetings: personal presentations of the project by the mayor were organised for the neighbourhood committees
  • Offline display: banners in the streets of the city centre
  • Email newsletters
  • Recruitment for offline activities via neighbourhood committees and cultural centres
  • Launch event

On Paid channels:

  • Digital advertising (display)
  • Social media ad campaigns on Facebook and Twitter

On Earned channels:

  • PR: articles published on RTBF.be and other local media
  • Interaction with academic influencers and other local stakeholders

3. Advice & guidance from CitizenLab engagement specialists

Liège could also count on the advice of CitizenLab’s engagement specialists before, during and after the participation process. They received tips regarding the formulation of the communication on the platform itself and on effectively mixing communications on both online and offline channels. The city administration also received a dedicated support of CitizenLab to reorganize the ideas that came out the frameless ideation process, in a clear and workable way, including optimised spreadsheets and an online platform reorganised around the 8 main topics of the ideas.

The next steps for the City of Liège

The voting period ended on June 25th and the city is now in the process of analysing more closely the best-voted proposals and will provide feedback. First, by transparently reporting on the key figures and the trends observed. Second, by involving administration departments in describing how citizen proposals would be – or not – taken up in the design of Liège’s next Masterplan, which will occur next Fall.

Want to know more about the success story of Liège?

Download the full case study here.