The participatory budget being introduced in Cologne’s municipal administration is a new ‘service for citizen participation’ (e-Participation) with the goal of effectively supporting decision-making processes in various fields affecting the community, by using online media, and while putting citizens at the centre.
The participatory budget 2008 is the pilot project for a comprehensive initiative to introduce e-Participation in the City of Cologne. The goal was to provide understandable and comprehensive information about the budget, raise awareness among the population about the complex topic, enrich budget consultancies by additional input from the citizens (suggestions, opinions, expectations), enhance the transparency on budget related matters and generally establish an improved communication between the administration and the citizens
For four weeks the citizens of Cologne had the opportunity to participate in planning the budget by submitting proposals, comments and assessments in the fields of ‘roads, lanes and public squares’, ‘public green spaces’ and ‘sports’, which they did with great interest and enthusiasm. In total 10 231 participants registered on the internet platform, 4973 proposals were submitted, 9184 comments and a total of 52 746 assessments (votes for or against) were entered. The proposals were called up about 464 000 times and the web pages of the participation platform were visited exactly 873 476 times. About 120 000 unique visitors were counted.
In addition to the high-profile public phase (long-running announcements in the print media, radio and TV, as well as letters to all Cologne households), the implementation of the participation platform was of special importance. Here the interactive software had to offer more than the usual range of functions for newsgroups or discussion forums. Requirements were outlined that had to be borne in mind in order to implement online consultation beyond a ‘flood of contributions’ in a targeted and result-driven way. Discussion forums or newsgroups merely offer simple threads of answers: the representation of the content and documentation of the discussion therefore consists of discussion threads grown over time, which more often than not do not follow the line of arguments inherent in the discussion.
By providing an electronic platform for citizen participation, useful ideas can be tapped and additional knowledge can be generated via the internet. This service is to be made available in addition to the participatory budget as an instrument allowing successively relevant public processes.
|Award category:||citizen involvement|
|Sector:||Public administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reform|
|Type of activity:||community and stakeholder participation|
|Keywords:||Participatory budget, e-Participation|
|Short English description:||The goal was to provide understandable and comprehensive information about the budget, raise awareness among the population about the complex topic, enrich budget consultancies by additional input from the citizens enhance the transparency on budget related matters and generally establish an improved communication between the administration and the citizens|
|Organisation:||City of Cologne|
|Level of government:||local level|
|Size of organisation:||>100|
|Number of people involved:|
|EU membership:||EU member|