It is no secret that participatory budgets are in vogue. In 2017, the municipalities of the Spanish provincial capitals dedicated more than 130 million euros to this concept. And the figure continues to increase. But carrying out a participatory budget is not a simple task. It is necessary to select the appropriate methodology for each municipality and plan a good communication campaign. In addition, we must size the resources available to the city council, especially during the technical evaluation phase of citizen proposals, to avoid collapsing the technical services.
Technology is one of the factors that can contribute to improving the results of participatory budgets while reducing the workload of the administration. Thanks to technology, many citizens who are not willing to move to deliver their proposal or cast their vote can do so comfortably from their mobile phone. But not all technologies are the same. And if we choose the wrong solution, we can achieve a radically opposite effect.
The City Council of Rivas Vaciamadrid is one of the most innovative in Spain. And in the forums of transparency and open government it is recognized as one of the most participatory municipalities in the country. However, it had experienced various setbacks with the technology it had used to support its participatory budgets until 2018. The user experience was not optimal. Internal budget management required a great effort from the technical team. And, more importantly, any improvement in the product stole too many hours from the computer equipment. Thanks to Kuorum, the Rivas City Council could have a new customized citizen participation website ready in less than 1 minute. And the participatory budgets of 2019 were a success, not only at the level of participation but also in terms of reducing the workload of the technical team.
One of the advantages of citizen participation websites created with Kuorum is its great usability. Thanks to this, Rivas achieved more than 2,000 users (verified against the municipal census) in the first two weeks since its launch. Managing these users can become a titanic task with other tools. But now Rivas had Kuorum’s powerful contact manager that allowed him to segment audiences under numerous criteria and send them mass and personalized emails.
During the technical evaluation phase, city council technicians were able to access a simple table that unifies all the information in the proposals. From here they could comfortably select the proposals that passed the screen and assign them a price. 54 of the 194 proposals received passed to the voting phase. And more than 3,000 votes were cast resulting in 14 winning proposals worth 300,000 euros.
It is noteworthy that during this process the City Council IT team did not experience an additional workload. Since Kuorum is not a product but a technological service, which includes technical assistance and continuous improvement. Any incident is managed directly from our call center. And the improvements that may be useful to more than one customer are included in the engineering team’s development plan.
Finally, thanks to Kuorum being a solution that can be integrated with other technological platforms (via API or widget), Rivas City Council will be able to comply with the interoperability regulations. If you are thinking of launching participatory budgets in your municipality or if you are already carrying them out but are looking for a technology that suits your needs, do not hesitate to contact us.