from the by-the-people-for-the-people dept.
In 2015 Ada Colau, an activist with no experience in government, became mayor of Barcelona. She called for a democratic revolution, and for the last two years city hall, working with civic-minded coders and cryptographers, has been designing the technological tools to make it happen.
Their efforts have centred on two things. The first is opening up governance through participatory processes and greater transparency. And the second is redefining the smart city to ensure that it serves its citizens, rather than the other way around.
The group started by creating a digital participatory platform, Decidim ("We Decide", in Catalan). Now the public can participate directly in government as they would on social media, by suggesting ideas, debating them, and voting with their thumbs. Decidim taps into the potential of social networks: the information spreading on Twitter, or the relationships on Facebook. All of these apply to politics — and Decidim seeks to channel them, while guaranteeing personal privacy and public transparency in a way these platforms don't.
"We are experimenting with a hybrid of online and offline participatory democracy," says Francesca Bria, Barcelona's Chief Technology and Digital Innovation Officer. "We used Decidim to create the government agenda — over 70 per cent of the proposals come directly from citizens. Over 40,000 citizens proposed these policies. And many more citizens were engaged in offline collective assemblies and consultations."