Investigation of digital tools for increased citizen dialogue
Can digital tools strenghten democracy by giving citizens the opportunity to contribute to societal change? And how accessible are the tools used? Funka has got an assignment from the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation to investigate the current situation together with our partner Empirica.
Municipal functions and services mean a lot for people's everyday lives. Therefore, it is important that the municipalities make it easy for citizens to express their views on how the municipalities take care of their tasks and facilitate dialogue - it is all about local democracy. There are several different digital tools that can improve and simplify the dialogue between municipalities and citizens. However, there are major differences in how the municipalities have used this type of tools and we regularly see that municipalities in some situations only inform, where rather a dialogue with the citizens would had been feasible.
Funka and Empirica have been assigned to investigate how digital tools can be used for increased citizen participation and the project is divided into two phases. In the preliminary study, which began in January, we are investigating how tools for citizen engagement are used in a number of Norwegian municipalities. The study will result in a knowledge overview that also includes experiences from other countries. Among other things, we build on our experiences from the European research project WeGovNow. The assignment also includes to investigate which specific tools that are currently used. Hopefully, we will later on also have the opportunity to implement the main project, where the idea is to test current tools in the municipalities.
For democratic processes to work, the digital tools used should of course work for everyone, therefore accessibility is a fundamental quality aspect, says Andreas Cederbom, Head of Analysis at Funka.
The investigation is being conducted in cooperation with one of our longstanding partners, the German research and consultancy firm Empirica.