Funka investigates democracy tools in Norway

The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs, has assigned Funka to review digital tools for citizen dialogue. The main goal of the project is to increase knowledge about how these tools work for people with disabilities and how they can be made accessible.

The municipalities play a key role in the democratic systems in many countries. In the Nordic region, municipalities are responsible for important parts of the welfare society with a direct impact on the everyday lives of citizens. With increased digitalization, there are now more opportunities for municipalities to let citizens influence different processes. Many municipalities already use different tools for this, but so far there has been no overview of the accessibility of those tools.

Digital solutions for citizen dialogue might be even more important for people who find it difficult to participate in other ways, due to, for example, motor impairments, says Lena Drevsjø, Project Manager at Funkas Oslo office, who is responsible for the audit. I hope this project can make it easier for municipalities to choose the right tool in the future.

Today, there is very little knowledge internationally about the accessibility of digital democratic processes. As far as we know, there is no practical guide for political institutions that want to implement citizen participation initiatives at a local level. In this project Funka will present the degree of accessibility of various tools, so that suppliers can improve them. We will also compile a report to all of Norway's municipalities, that can be used to set requirements for suppliers and/or to help municipalities choose the right tools.

The tests are conducted in cooperation with the municipalities Skedsmo, Stavanger, Tromsø, Sarpsborg and Asker, which will provide knowledge of already known user problems, and dialogue about potential changes in the use and design of the tools. The methodology we use is a combination of expert evaluations and user tests, as well as interviews and focus groups.

Assigned by the Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, Funka is currently also conducting a pilot study on digital tools for citizen dialogue. That assignment involves a survey on how digital tools for citizen dialogue are being used in municipalities. We hope and believe that these activities can provide interesting synergies.

Funding: The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Grants for Universal Design)
Consortium: Funka
Period: April 2018 - December 2018
Budget: 30 000 EUR

Investigation of digital tools for increased citizen dialogue