From Civic Halls to the Internet

© Civocracy

Berlin-based Civocracy is bringing democracy into the digital era by providing a space for digital collaboration between citizens, governments, businesses and other groups active in local communities.

Chloé Pahud was living and working in China in 2011 when Arab Spring broke out. Following the the news online, she observed how social media could connect and energize democratic movements. So why was it, she wondered, that her own social media timelines consisted of mostly hostile political conversations? Determining it could be done better, Pahud founded Civocracy in Berlin in 2015.

Civocracy provides a digital platform that allows governments, citizens, businesses and organizations to communicate with each other to make collective changes for the common good. Features include city-lead discussions and debates, idea crowdsourcing, participatory budgeting statistics and analysis. The company intends to revive community in democracy through participation and transparency and by providing a space for digital collaboration.

Civocracy in Action
Currently mostly local governments use Civocracy’s participation formats when it comes to specific planning projects. In 2018, for instance, the city of Strasbourg, France used Civocracy to gather input from teachers and parents on school hours. 50% of Strasbourg’s teachers and 40% of parents responded. Participants collectively determined primary school children would have Wednesday afternoons off.

In a more recent example, in 2020, the French department Auvergne- Rhône-Aloes worked with Civocracy to gather ideas how to make the public transportation more accessible for persons with disabilities. Similar projects have taken place in in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France.

Welcoming the Future
Amidst the COVID crisis, Civocracy has seen an uptick in interest. With public meetings in community centers and schools off the table, governments are increasingly trying to gather input online. Cities that had previously lagged behind in digitalization have now been thrust into the interconnected future.

Civocracy’s short-term goals include moving from project-based participation to a permanent, open form in which citizens can set their own topics and intentions rather than merely responding to a municipalities prompt.

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