High-Tech and Online Experiments in Public Participation


AGORA 2000 is an approach to democratic regional/urban planning processes that encourages the "full involvement of citizens in the decision process." The objective of this project is to bridge the gap between citizens and regional/urban decision makers in order to get common, enhanced solutions to territory planning issues. AGORA 2000 serves as a portal dedicated to town and territory planning, adapted to Local Government (Municipalities, Districts, Regional or State Government) and its customers (citizens, planning professionals, building companies, etc.) to ease communication and ensure a real democratic and transparent decision process.


byDesign-eLab was founded in 1997 in association with the McLuhan Program at the University of Toronto as an informal think tank and testing ground engaged in research, education and product development focused on new media and policy. The eLab is now a private organization dedicated to realizing significant public interest projects. As such, eLab researches and engages in "humane participant design" of accessible public spaces online to ensure that the economic and social benefits of digital media can be shared through mutual exchange of vital information and resources among networked communities of geography, interest and practice. An example of the realization of this goal is the recent online consultation developed for the Canada?s Dept. of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. This online dialogue (www.foreign-policy-dialogue.ca), aimed to bring Canadians into a discussion around the direction of Canadian foreign policy, is being held in conjunction with a series of town hall meetings.


Developed by the Citizens and Civics Unit of the government of Western Australia, Citizenscape is an effort to use Internet Communication Technologies (ICTs) to bring citizens into the policy decision process. This site incorporates a catalog of direct links to government consultation efforts on a range of policy issues.


This site provides citizens an opportunity to learn more about how British democracy works, as well as take part in online consultations on a range of policy matters. Developed under the UKOnline initiative of the British government.

City Scan

City Scan works with residents in urban areas to identify, prioritize and resolve neighborhood problems. City Scan has been working with neighborhood groups in four Connecticut cities to identify problems that city government can fix -- abandoned cars, vacant buildings, potholes, graffiti, and litter. We train youth or adult volunteers to use handheld computers, digital cameras, and GIS mapping software to inventory these street-level conditions. This information is the basis for a collaborative decision-making process to resolve the problems. City Scan helps define neighborhood priorities, improves communication processes between city agencies and residents, and builds an ongoing accountability system. The combination of visual tools (maps and pictures) makes it much easier to engage citizens in the work than a reliance on spreadsheets and data reports ever could.

The Democracy in Cyberspace Initiative

The Democracy in Cyberspace Initiative of the Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale Law School wants to promote democracy by developing best practices technologies and models to strengthen democracy both online and off. In particular, they want to catalyze the development of technologies and processes that move beyond the thin 'patron-client' model of government where government is a procurer of goods and purveyor of services, to focus on participatory and deliberative forms of strong democratic life. They are interested in realizing technology's potential to improve civic life and help citizens take an active and informed role in their own governance.

DEMOS [Delphi Mediation Online System]

The main objectives of the DEMOS project are to enable and encourage citizens to easily participate in political discussions and public decision making processes. To achieve these goals, DEMOS is developing--and will evaluate a new Internet tool to support democratic discussion and decision making by a large number of citizens. DEMOS is not only working on the technical aspect of this enterprise, but primarily on finding a way to attract and actively involve thousands of users with different cultural backgrounds and interests. The project is planned to make a substantial breakthrough in on-line consultation, where currently no acceptable means exist to handle large scale discussion processes and deliberative opinion formation.

Dialogue by Design Ltd

Dialogue by Design is a UK-based specialist company established in 1999 to manage dialogue and consultation over the Internet. Their unique technology enables them to receive, process, analyze and report on hundreds or even thousands of detailed responses within days. They provide an effective and efficient means for organizations to consult with large and/or geographically dispersed groups of people in a way that allows people to express what they think in their own words. Dialogue by Design was established by a group of leading practitioners in the fields of stakeholder dialogue, public participation consultation, conflict resolution and software design.


E-consultant is a web-based application that allows Internet users to post responses during a consultation, read related consultation documents, see who else has contributed and the nature of their response, and return to read feedback on the outcomes of the process. The website's contents, appearance, structure and functions are tailored by the International Teledemocracy Center (housed at Napier University) to meet the needs of the consulting organization. E-consultant takes one of two forms that correspond with different stages of policy decision-making: issue-based forums and policy-based forums.

E.D.E.N. [Electronic Democracy European Network]

The purpose of this tool is to improve communication between public administrations and citizens in decision-making processes, and reduce the cost of individual citizens' actions. The EDEN project combines several technical approaches using urban planning as the pilot application target. The EDEN toolkit will assist citizens to understand the decision-making process and foster their expression of opinions.

Michigan Youth Caucus

The Michigan Youth Caucus (MYC) is sponsored by the Michigan Civics Institute, the Interactive Communication and Simulations Group at the University of Michigan, and members of the state legislature. MYC gives Michigan residents 18-22 a voice in public affairs through the use of online tools, offline meetings and conventions to facilitate the creation of the Michigan Youth Caucus (MYC) platform. Representatives use a variety of asynchronous and real-time web-based communications tools to work with other MYC members. Online discussions begin with proposals created in various subcommittees, and end with the passage of the platform at the annual MYC convention in Lansing, Michigan.


Designed as a one-stop portal to online participation in US Federal rulemaking, Regulations.gov offers users the opportunity to search for and participate in the open comment periods of every federal agency.

Votia Empowerment

The business concept of Votia is to carry out democracy projects in municipalities, local authorities, county councils, trade unions and other member-based organizations. The project's aim is to improve communication, mutual confidence, and loyalty between our client and its customers (member, employees and citizens) by increasing members' influence and participation in decision-making through dialogue, voting and other forms of democratic influence.


This sight aims to empower citizens with an innovative communication, access and voting system that supports increased participation in democratic processes. Technical objectives involve design and development of a Web-based system called Webocrat. Webocrat will support: communication and discussion, publication of documents, browsing and navigation, voting, intelligent retrieval (access to requested documents), calculation of summaries/statistics. The methodological objectives are focused on development of a methodological framework and organixational practices for development and management of systems providing on-line support to public administration services.


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