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E-participation projects in 2021

The planning committee has decided to support the following e-participation projects in 2021:

«Lausanne participates» – digital citizen participation platform (city of Lausanne)

The city of Lausanne wants to develop a digital platform promoting citizen participation, strengthening local democracy and making the city more inclusive. The project is in line with plans relating to digital strategy and the city's participation strategy, as well as with its strong desire to guarantee citizen participation despite the current health measures that are limiting face-to-face meetings. The city of Lausanne wants to make use of civic technologies, in order to promote and inject dynamism into participation by reaching a wide public and young people in particular.

With this in mind, it hat developped the «Lausanne participates» platform using the well-known Decidim open source software. This tool allows all the participative steps to be connected up seamlessly, efforts to be combined and readability for the population to be improved. The project is planning to evaluate the pilot phase of the platform's launch, adapt the platform to Lausanne's specific needs with a few necessary add-ons, acquire internal skills and know-how on eParticipation (training and support) and promote the «Lausanne participates» platform to the general public and in the city's different neighbourhoods over the course of the first year.

Enabling collaboration via a digital, standardised platform (canton of Zug)

Public administrations are facing the challenge of integrating their internal and external stakeholder groups into projects and processes for development and validation purposes. Often, an internal or public consultation is performed. Using the "eCollaboration" digital consultation platform, which is deployed in several other cantons, cities and communes in addition to Zug, the consultation process can be vastly simplified.

During the use of the digital consultation, it was realised that considerable value added can be achieved, both for the administration and for the invited external organisations (e.g. parties, associations) or the population, by setting up collaborative feedback recording. The aim is to develop a hierarchically collaborative recording function, so that comments at each level within the organisation can be recorded online, consolidated by the next-higher level and released as consultation responses. This process step allows consultations within and outside the administrations to be processed more efficiently, consistently and seamlessly for all participants via a central platform. This can help to speed up decision-making and vastly simplify collaboration within the administration (Confederation, cantons, cities and communes). Organisations outside the administration are provided with a service tool for them to collaborate or record their own comments, and they are therefore able to exploit the advantages of digital public services.

As part of the project, an implementation concept is to be drawn up and validated with various cantons. Once the module is rolled out, a list of best practices will be drawn up and published. This will describe, among other things, how consultations can be implemented collaboratively.

Online community meetings in the Upper Valais (villages of Bitsch, Täsch and Salgesch)

In the first quarter of 2021, three community meetings are to be held online in the Upper Valais. Those interested can call up information and follow debates while at home or on the move. The aim of the project is to attract people of all ages and strengthen political debate within these communities. The project's target audience is older people in particular, who belong to risk groups and are therefore avoiding the village meeting, young people, who tend to be less interested in village politics, and other interested members of the population who shy away from appearing in public but are still interested in keeping informed.

Thanks to a financial contribution from eGovernment Switzerland, the pilot operation can be carried out with different suppliers in three communes. Implementation will vary depending on the supplier. The differing arrangements should help the communes to identify the options and recognise any challenges. This means that the communes will be able to run future events autonomously and without professional support. Life in the three communes should be made more attractive by allowing all residents to actively participate in political life in the commune at all times.

Speakers’ Corner (city of Lugano)

Speakers' Corner aims to be a (virtual) place for students to meet and exchange ideas with the city they are studying in. A virtual space, conceived as a participative platform, where students can debate and discuss between themselves, and at the same time interact with the institutions. Speakers' Corner was originally launched as a pilot project in 2020: 25 students took part in a workshop in which web communication professionals, journalists and entrepreneurs provided their recommendations.

The project is aimed at providing students with an interface to day-to-day society, the general public, businesses, etc. A virtual showcase where they can present their research, which too often risks being confined to an academic context. The city (Lugano municipal administration), for its part, can take advantage of the network to interact with the students and understand their needs. Based on these encouraging results, in 2021 the project will become an annual activity and, in parallel, a web portal will be set up which will include a participative platform. The developed solution (web portal) is essentially divided into two macro-domains: the part relating to video presentations of students' research, and the participative platform.

Decidim network Switzerland (city of Zurich)

Last year, and likewise thanks to a contribution from eGovernment Switzerland, the city of Zurich was able to successfully test the Decidim open source software from Barcelona in its project "District idea". In addition to the city of Zurich, which now also wants to use Decidim in a number of other projects, the canton of Geneva is also using the flexible software. Other Swiss cities are likewise in the process of implementing it. Currently, all the project owners are adapting the software to their needs.

The aim of this project is to establish a network that coordinates the individual adaptations, in order to optimise the synergy effects of this open source software. For example, modules for security, user-friendliness or functionality (e.g. consultations) can be developed jointly. This coordination benefits smaller players in particular (cities, communes, NGOs), as the software is constantly republished and made available for free.

Thanks to the support of eGovernment Switzerland, the coordination of public bodies is secured for the future by a Swiss Decidim network, which could be organised as an association. Specifically, the funding by eGovernment Switzerland ((CHF 25,000)) will allow the setting-up and pilot operation of a joint Decidim platform modelled along the lines of the Barcelona Meta-Decidim project. On this platform, instructions, FAQs and contacts for other public bodies can be made freely available.

eParticipation platform for collaborative processes on meinthurgau.ch (city of Arbon)

In the legislature plan for 2019 to 2023, the Arbon city council wants to promote digital participation by the population. For this purpose, the city of Arbon's social department has launched the project "eParticipation platform for collaborative processes". The evaluation of a number of platforms has revealed that the development of specific eParticipation tools on the multi-service platform www.meinthurgau.ch appears the most promising way to promote the involvement of the population in municipal projects. In a pilot run, the platform's standard tools were used to compile experiences and assess which eParticipation tools still need to be developed. Under a shared approach, the developed tools will also be available to other communes and the canton, via the meinthurgau.ch platform. The project has the following objectives:

  • Increasing the transparency of the political community's development projects.
  • Promoting the involvement of all population groups – regardless of age, nationality or status – in specific municipal and societal developments.
  • Designing needs-oriented and sustainable services and projects.
  • Establishing a user-friendly eParticipation platform in consultation with other municipal IT projects (new website, smart city concept, etc.).
  • Developing an innovative IT solution that can be adapted by other cities and communes.

Regio Frauenfeld app – for more efficient communes and greater citizen participation in the Frauenfeld region (Frauenfeld region)

Strong population growth, high numbers of professional commuters and limited administrative resources are making it increasingly difficult for communes in the Frauenfeld region to quantify the needs of their citizens. This was revealed by a representative survey carried out in autumn 2020 in the 15 communes concerned.

Forms of digital participation such as the Regio Frauenfeld app, which contains commune information as well as survey and discussion functions, could provide a solution and help both the population and the administrations. An app allows the population to be involved in the commune wherever and whenever they choose. At the same time, communes can more efficiently canvas and automatically analyse their citizens' needs. As its use by the population grows, the Regio app will be optimally adjusted to user needs.

The Regio app project is taking place in two to three typical model communes in the Frauenfeld region. After the basic app functions have been developed, they will be tested and evaluated by the population. The app will then be refined with the input of the population, and training courses will be organised for the communal administrations. A regional app also allows small communes to have access to more efficient forms of citizen involvement, which they would find (too) expensive to maintain on their own. The fact that data from an entire region can be consulted makes the app much more attractive for the individual users.