Friday’s here! Another week has flown by, and more sizzling civic tech news has rolled off the (digital) presses. And that means it’s time for our selection of the hottest civic tech reads of the week!

In our list this week? 101 small things you can do to improve your city, participatory budgets, and… what democracy can learn from fish. Buckle up, because this is going to be a good one!

1. 101 Small ways you can improve your city” by P. Sisson and A. Walker for Curbed

If you’ve ever heard of the ‘butterfly effect’, you already know that the smallest changes can have the biggest impact. And that counts for your city too, because there’s really plenty of small things you can do to improve the quality of life in your neighbourhood. Letting your creative juices flow, planting a hint of green here and there, or literally just fixing up your own porch — this list contains a lot of great and tangible ideas to make our cities more pleasant places to live and work. A must-read for everyone who believes that cities are created by their inhabitants!

2. “The Future Cities of Innovation”, by Bloomberg Cities

For the 100th edition of their weekly newsletter, Bloomberg Cities has asked mayors, thinkers and innovators what they hope will happen in public-sector innovation over the next ten years. The answers go from re-imagining learning spaces to increasing cooperation between government services. Most answers agree on one thing: citizens have a role to play in shaping their future governments. Read on for inspiring ideas!

3. “Participatory budgeting – is civic tech’s role fuelling disillusionment with democracy?”, Derek du Preez for Diginomica

Derek Du Preez shares the main insights from Panthea Lee’s recent talk at the TICTec conference. Lee’s thesis is that despite its many benefits, participatory budgeting is not an answer to all of democracy’s woes and should not be treated as such. She ads that in the long run, an over-use of participatory budgets can lead to disillusionment and a decrease of citizen participation. The solution would be to focus on a PB’s first aims: education, and a better understanding of what citizens want.

For more insights from TICTec, you can also read our recap here!

4. “Technology and political will can create better governance”, Darshana Narayanan for The Economist

This article starts by comparing democracy to… a school of fish. By going over popular examples of citizen consultation and the effects they’ve had locally, Narayanan makes a compelling case to include non-experts in decision-making. Her point: citizen participation can help democracy be fairer, more inclusive and truly focused on what citizens need.

5. “We need digital identity to unlock the potential of smart cities”, Thomas Bostrøm Jørgensen for Smart Cities world

Smart cities can be good – but without digital identities, they’ll never be great, says the article. Digital identities are currently being used in an administrative context, but they could also have a huge impact on the way citizens navigate the city: think public transportation, improved healthcare, or efficient communication between citizens and governments. This also raises a secondary question: who should be responsible for encouraging and developing digital identities?

And if you just can’t get enough, head to our blog or subscribe to our newsletter to scratch the rest of your digital democracy itch. Are you thinking of implementing digital participation in your local government? Get in touch or download our free e-guide that covers all the basics!

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