Under the heading of 'Schiedammers make the city' (Schiedammers maken de stad) the municipality launched a CitizenLab participation platform to consult the opinions and ideas of citizens online. With the platform, the municipality wants to "encourage people from Schiedam to think about how we can make the city more beautiful, cleaner, safer and healthier". Schiedam considers participation to be of major importance and citizen engagement is deeply rooted in the functioning of various municipal services and thus is a forerunner when it comes to citizen engagement. Via various projects (Neighbourhood Budget, 'Citizen Force Initiatives', citizen board groups, etc.), but also through a low-threshold way of communicating, the municipality is constantly looking for interaction with the citizens. It is no coincidence that you can easily find a 'participation toolkit' on the municipal website!
At first, the emphasis was put on collecting input for a project ("The Week of Happiness"), but quick the platform was also used to support broader, long-term projects. At all times the people from Schiedam can leave an 'open idea' on the platform, but the platform was also given as a tool to other services and departments within the city.
Schiedam's project-based approach is in many ways very interesting. In short periods of time Schiedam gathered input around very specific themes which quickly led to over 200 registered users. Either this success was reached through an area-based approach in which citizens could pin their idea on a map (Pin je Plek in Schiedams Midden) either they focused on collecting comments and proposals about the state of tens of tunnels in Schiedam which are in need of renovation.
Schiedam strongly believes in the complementarity between the CitizenLab platform and social media (mostly Facebook). The administrators on the platform are sharing the best ideas on social media and manually ship the most important comments to the platform. In this way, there is a continuous discussion and the interaction with the citizens that don't lose sight of their input in long Facebook-threads.
Selection and feedback
Various civil servants of the municipality of Schiedam also created a profile on the platform and identified themselves as such, by putting their 'role' in there profile description. This enabled them to participate in the discussions and provide feedback to citizen input when needed.
340 monthly users
130 registered citizens
The municipality will further develop the timeline function per project in collaboration with CitizenLab. The municipality is constantly looking for new opportunities and is in contact with the civil society organization G1000, to establish a link through the platform with the participation process that this organisation is launching in the municipality.