Date Published: Aug. 1, 2017, 11:17 p.m.
his case study presents the Participare Platform a participatory budgeting tool created by the start-up Change Tomorrow in 2013. It shows it results of the tool's implementation in Ovar, Portugal, where more than 25% of the population participated in the voting process for projects.
Change Tomorrow is a Portuguese start-up created in 2013 dedicated to the development of solutions based on novel technologies for active citizen participation in municipal administration. The main service of Change Tomorrow is Participare, a cloud-based participatory budgeting (PB) solution for municipalities.
Participare was born from the following observation: although an increasing number of local governments around the world are implementing participatory processes, these are not always successful. Many PB processes fail for lack of participation resulting from a lack of trust in the process. With the goal to improve these processes, Change Tomorrow created Participare, a platform designed to manage the entire participatory PB process for cities. It does so by guaranteeing a credible, reliable and transparent process, ensuring proper participants’ identification, maximizing engagement, and integrating offline and online participation. The platform offers a complete service and centralizes all the different steps of a PB: promotion, registration and identification of citizen, submissions and visualization of proposals, monitoring of project’s implementation, etc.
Partcipare combines a software solution and technical assistance from the Change Tomorrow team. Structured as a SaaS platform, Participare is an easy to use, fast to set-up and low-cost solution which only needs customization instead of development, and where cities pay for what they use and no hosting is needed. It is flexible to adapt to local specificities, multilingual, and costs approximately 300 - 400 USD per month, with prices depending on the number of registered participants. Participare has been adopted by more than 50 municipalities across Europe.
Ovar, a Portuguese city of 55,000 inhabitants, implemented a participatory budgeting initiative in 2015, using the Participare solution. For the 2015 and 2016 editions, the budget allocated to the process was 100 000 euros, which corresponds to approximately 1% of investment budget, 38% of indirect taxes collected. By implementing a PB, the goal of the municipality was to increase citizen participation and interest in local public policies, bring citizens closer and increase trust in the local administration. The total cost of the project was €10.000 euros, including the monthly subscription for the platform, the communication and marketing material expenses. The participatory budgeting was implemented in five phases:
The 16 meetings brought together over 1,000 citizens, 38 proposals were submitted, 13,598 votes, were casted, corresponding to 25% of the city’s population. The Mayor of Ovar, Salvador Malheiro, believes that the initiative contributed to reducing mistrust from citizens and to improve community engagement.
According to the municipality, the following elements were key to ensure the success of the participatory budgeting: