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The European civictech ecosystem, which emerged in the early 2010s, has since grown steadily in terms of both the number of players and the issues addressed.
Popularised for its innovative work on citizen participation in democratic life, the sector actually pursues a broader mission : to strengthen citizen engagement in all its forms.
A common vision : promoting active citizenship.
Strictly speaking, a civictech is a technological solution designed to promote citizen engagement. By extension, this term refers to the companies or NGOs who develop this type of tools.
These actors have various political and professional background , at the convergence of the worlds of activism, collective intelligence and new technologies.
They share a common philosophy. The crisis of democracy will only be overcome by the growing involvement of citizens in public life.
Civictechs therefore aim to create the conditions for active citizenship based on commitment and participation in the decision-making process. This is achieved through an inclusive and ethical use of technology.
At the heart of this approach, a central question prevails:
How to strengthen the role of the citizen in public life?
While they all have in common that they rely on the citizen to bring about new solutions, civictechs provide several degrees of response to this problem.
... By developing citizen participation
The world of citizen participation was the first to take hold of civictech tools, initially through the prism of transparency and horizontality.
Reconciling citizens and public authorities means involving citizens in all stages of the decision-making process, from the preliminary diagnostic phases to the evaluation of public policies*.
This consultation process is greatly facilitated by the use of civictech platforms and tools (voting platform, participatory budgeting, suggestion boxes, etc.).
There can be no relevant citizen participation without transparency. So, civictechs have supported the open data momentum which led to new applications to the monitoring the design of laws and the mandates of elected representatives.
The use of citizen participation is booming among local authorities and has been recently highlighted in several national experiments, such as the Citizens' Climate Convention (2020) in France or the Conference on the Future of Europe (2021), etc.
... By supporting activism
To be candidate for an election is not enough to win. To promote a legitimate cause is not enough to be heard in the public debate.
Setting up campaigns and citizens' movements requires technical know-how that discourages many citizens and consolidate the idea that activism is the privilege of political elite.
In the order to democratise activism, a second branch of civictechs removes the technical obstacles to engagement.
The issue here is to provide citizen with operational tools for organising activists communities. Among many issues, civictechs are used to organise digital campaigns, activist networks and targeted field actions.
You guessed it, Citipo is part of this movement so we could talk about it for hours 😉. Let's meet !
... By creating citizen-centric public services
In addition to taking part in public debate and institutional life, a third family of civictechs sees citizens as stakeholders in the day-to-day management of local public services. This trend is part of the digital transition of local authorities and its components (digitalisation of services, exploitation of data, etc.)
Co-constructed with local authorities, these projects stand out for their ability to refine the practice of the services according to local behaviours of the users.
The aim is to replace the "citizen-consumer" with a responsible citizen who can effectively share his user experience and suggestions for improvement.
Popular projects include applications for reporting road problems, joint management of car parks and public lighting, etc.
On this subject, Citipo regularly lists successful initiatives, which can be found on the Civimap.
*About the foundations of citizen participation, we recommend reading La Démocratie, Autrement (Escoubes - Proriol, 2021)
Adrien DuguetCo-founder Citipo