4. Public participation and engagement
In the future, top-down models of governance will no longer be seen as legitimate or efﬁcient. Many citizens expect decision-making to be shared, open and participatory.
Governments have an opportunity to engage citizens on the issues they care about. New digital e-participation tools, such as social media, mobile apps and online digital platforms, allow them to collect input from citizens on a large scale, providing insights to enrich government policy and decision-making.
But governments can ensure that people are not just consulted but empowered to shape the decisions that affect them. Many are experimenting with different models for engagement to identify, debate and decide on a wide range of topics. Deliberative citizens’ juries, for example, have been used in Australia, Ireland and other countries to cocreate solutions to complex social and economic challenges.
There is growing interest in participatory budgeting initiatives that allow citizens to decide how to allocate public budgets. More than 180 policy labs have been set up globally to incubate ideas and provide a testing bed for policies in areas such as education, health and justice. And government-organized hackathons have proved an effective way to engage people in finding fresh solutions to the economic, social and technological challenges posed by COVID-19.
Most governments and public authorities across the world are launching open data initiatives and setting up data exchange platforms. The focus is on making data widely available to third parties, including citizens, to help develop new solutions to complex problems while improving transparency and accountability.
All of these efforts will be vital initiatives that help governments better serve all the citizens in our connected world.
Get to know your Connected Citizens
Advances in data and technology afford governments a unique opportunity to better serve their citizens. But as with any transformative opportunity, there is an inherent risk: that an ambition to digitalize as much and as quickly as possible results in a one-size-fits-all approach that actually fits only a few constituents, leaving many further disconnected from government – physically and attitudinally. Studying the seven Connected Citizens personas will help governments plan digital service delivery mechanisms that cater for each of their different needs. By doing so, governments can become more effective and more efficient, address digital exclusion to help reduce social inequality – and help build a more equitable, better, working world for all.