During the presentation, Online Citizens Participation in Iceland and Worldwide, Robert Bjarnason and Gunnar Grimsson (Citizens Foundation of Iceland, Iceland) presented several online open source platforms that operate on the principle of crowdsourcing.
First presented project was “Better Reykjavik” launched one week before local elections in Iceland, in 2010. It is an online platform that allows communication and citizens’ participation in the delivery of ideas and priorities to elected officials for potential consideration and implementation. In this way the citizens had the opportunity to influence public policy process during and after the elections.
“Participatory Budgeting in Reykjavik” is another online project where citizens via online platforms can choose which projects have priority, and to which the necessary funds should be allocated. There is also another platform called “Your Priorities”. It is a free software service which can be used in all countries in the world, and it allows citizens and civil society organizations to submit proposals and influence process of enactment.
The above mentioned platforms can have a great impact, and are well received by political parties, especially by Pirate Party of Iceland which uses these platforms to get insight into the needs of citizens, and to customize its program accordingly.
Through numerous examples, the speakers, pointed out how e-Democracy model of citizens’ participation allows all who are interested to put pressure on a government after the election process, and to consequently influence the policies of elected officials. One of the challenges that e-Democracy models face is the lack of participation because many citizens believe that their voice cannot influence public policy. One way to overcome the apathy of citizens in the political process after the elections is the promotion of e-Democracy projects through social and traditional media. They also stated that it is very important to choose cooperation with government instead of entering into a conflict with them. They reiterated that once the public structures accept participation in e-Democracy model, it will be convenient both for the citizens and the government.
One of presented projects, interesting to a public in the region, is “Balkans e-Democracy Bootstrap Project”, which is at early stage of financing, and there are ten separate projects in 6 countries. Workshops on how to develop online applications for citizens’ participation have already taken place in Sarajevo and Belgrade, with representatives of different civil society organizations.
For development and maintenance of e-Democracy website, you can register and contact Robert and Gunnar over www.yrpri.org. They offer their services for symbolic sum of money.