Consulting with urban residents is a growing trend

More and more citizens are turning to their residents for input on government plans. New digital tools are playing a role in facilitating this.

More and more local governments are using inclusive and participatory processes to gather citizen input on municipal projects, according to an article by Thomson Reuters Foundation.

For instance, in Barcelona, local authorities recently asked residents to submit ideas – both online and at meetings – on how to redevelop the green spaces of Montjuic, an iconic hill overlooking the capital. Even former authoritarian states are experimenting with it: Taiwan has used AI and other technology to engage people in crafting legislation, while Brazil is using an app called Mudamos to allow ordinary people to digitally sign proposed bills on popular issues such as municipal transport.

As the article explains, new digital tools are making it simpler and faster for local authorities to consult with their citizens on these and similar issues. Beth Noveck, director of the Governance Lab at New York University, called harnessing new technology to engage the wider public in drafting laws and other processes “a global phenomenon”.

One reason why it is gaining in popularity at the municipal level is that people find it easier to spot problems, identify solutions and evaluate legislation that directly affect their daily lives, Noveck said. But this is not without its challenges. Not everyone has internet access, and getting everyone to work effectively can be challenging. What’s more, countries with long-established, highly rule-based legislative practices can find it more difficult to implement such innovations than countries with newer democratic institutions.

Image credit: Erwan Hesry via Unsplash

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