Local Democracy

A fundamental purpose of Smart Villages is to enable local communities to better participate in their own self-determining democracy.

Digital Democracy

In this modern age of ubiquitous smart phones and social media, the level of digital participation is 24×7, and can be harnessed for enhancing local democracy.

In this modern age of ubiquitous smart phones and social media, the level of digital participation is 24×7, and can be harnessed for enhancing local democracy.

E-Petitions

Key features include E-Petitions and Discussion Forums, that can be utilized for issue and democratic campaigning.

Each Smart Village can enable certain membership levels to create petitions, or offer open access so any guest can submit proposed campaigns.

It also utilizes community features for encouraging more democratic discussion and collaboration locally, from a simple Who’s Who listing of the local politicians through ‘Have Your Say’ discussion forums.

These can be used for a variety of polling and citizen discussion scenarios, such as sharing and debating the latest minutes from the Community Council or taking polls on key topics like ‘How Fast Is Your Broadband?’

This can be integrated with the existing governance and relevant organizations. For example the Biggar site demonstrates how this can provide a feedback tool for the local Community Council.

Citizen Journalism and the Collaborative Community Plan

Smart Villages are intended to encourage and enable better local collaboration and participation.

Furthermore the site can also be used as a catalyst for another mode of online democracy, “citizen journalism”. This can tie in with other program themes, for example Youth Entrepreneurship, where it is via a mentoring internship approach like the Swedish Reportar project.

Residents can join their local Smart Village and via blogs, forums and other social media features participate online in their local community.

Each site is equipped with a collaborative ‘wiki‘ document. Our own Help Guide is a live example.

Like Wikipedia any one can edit it, making it ideal for the process of co-creating Community Plans. Being able to freely and easily contribute to the document encourages local residents to see the process as open and inviting, welcoming of their ideas and feedback.

Through social media features like commenting and alerts, this enables the process to be online, real-time and much more dynamic. Often people can feel excluded from local community planning simply because of the format of committee meetings and the other bureaucracies involved.

This makes it ideal for modern community engagement activities such as Participatory Budgeting.