Happy Friday, dear readers! May your mood be breezy, your colleagues well-rested and your coffee steaming hot.

To make this Friday even more blissful, we’ve gathered the most interesting civic tech, govtech and digital democracy reads of this week. We’re taking you along to German-speaking Belgium, the future of democracy, and even space, and you don’t even have to leave your desk. Let’s go!

1. “Belgium’s democratic experiment” by D. Van Reybrouck for Politico

The German-speaking region in Belgium is Europe’s smallest federal entity, but not one that should be overlooked. Because when it comes to democracy, this small community is breaking new ground.

From September onwards, part of the decision-making power will be transferred to a citizens’ assembly drafted by lot. It’s the first time in the history of Europe that a political institution creates a permanent structure for citizen involvement. “The Belgian experiment is an opportunity to take seriously the idea of involving citizens in our institutions before political discontent tears down our democratic processes,” states Van Reybrouck.

A must-read for everyone who’s interested in the future of politics, democratic experiments, or anyone who enjoys a good David-and-Goliath-story.

2. “You can lead a person to data, but you can’t make them use it” by T. Snow for Nesta

Open Government Data (OGD) can stimulate innovation and drive growth, and is a tool to hold governments accountable to citizens and communities. And yet, the use of OGD isn’t mainstream yet. At all. In this article, Snow explores why that’s the case, with a focus on Australia and the UK.

The majority of OGD being published in Australia and the UK is technical and scientific, while the data that people want to see is data on social services and tax,” Snow states. A must-read for all data-devotees!

And now that we’re on the topic of data: did you know that we’ve been awarded a grant for Nesta’s Collective Intelligence Grants Programme? We’ll use this opportunity to develop our natural language processing technology, focusing on the human aspect of the process. You can read more about our experiment here at Nesta, or here on our own blog.

3. “Digital democracy: Three priorities for the future of the field” by T. Bass for Apolitical

Despite a growth in the number of democracy initiatives worldwide, trust in the democratic system is deteriorating. Social unrest and populism are soaring, even in countries like France, which has been liberté-égalité-fraternité-ing up a storm since the French Revolution.

Apolitical has years of experience working in the realm of (digital) democracy, and that gives them quite some authority to comment on the future of the field.

In this article, opinion-maker Bass explores three priorities for the future of digital democracy. Spoiler: he discusses a clearer expression of purpose, stronger standards of evidence, and better understanding of institutions.

A must-read for those invested to save democracy, or at least those curious enough to see how it’s going to turn out.

4. “Does increased ‘participation’ equal a new-found enthusiasm for democracy?” by S. King and P. Nicol for Luminate

Another article on the future of democracy. Every year starts with the release of yearly reports, and the wrap-up of 2018 concluded a painful decline in various civil liberties, which mainly affected women, minorities and journalists.

But on the other hand, there was also a substantial increase of participation initiatives across the globe. “Based on the methodology used, the rise in political participation was significant enough to prevent a decline in the global overall score for democracy for the first time in three years,” the article tells us.

But we shouldn’t celebrate too soon, because even though it sounds optimistic, this could in itself be a reason for new concerns. Enhanced participation alone cannot save democracy, and everything depends on who’s participating, what form this participation has, and mainly: how those in power respond to it.

If you loved the previous article, this will be right up your alley as well. A must-read for everyone keeping up with the way democracy evolves.

5. “5 secrets of successful community surveys” by Bloomberg Cities

A growing number of cities are using surveys to gather citizen input, both online and offline. It’s a way to eliminate some of the shortcomings of traditional town hall meetings, with their clear “survival of the loudest”- hierarchy. Surveys have the potential to gauge your citizens’ views directly and generate valuable and actionable insights.

In this article, Bloomberg Cities unravels 5 ways to make your surveys count. A must-read for cities and municipalities looking for the right ways to involve their citizens.

6. “Is Space the Next Frontier for Innovation in Gov Tech?” by D. Haisler and D. McKenna for GovTech

Today’s International Space Day, and that’s why we’re taking a look beyond the Final Frontier. Space is becoming increasingly more accessible, and it’s a matter of time before it becomes a factor in service delivery for governments. It’s one small step for mankind, but one giant leap for GovTech.

Space is no longer something we just look up at. It’s now a platform that will provide better insight for solving problems in the world around us,” the authors state. A must-read for GovTech-enthusiasts and fervent stargazers.

And since we really can’t top * space *, that’s it for this week! If you’re hungry 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!

There are currently no comments.