Citizen Voice

by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

An Open-source Map-based Public Participation Tool

Engaging and understanding communities affected by urban development leads to better planning decisions and improved social outcomes. As a tool for public participation, Citizen Voice opens a channel for citizens to voice their experiences, needs, and aspirations. Citizen Voice provides the opportunity for citizen involvement from the early phase to the follow-up phase of urban development projects.

In 2050, about two-thirds of the world population are expected to be living in urban areas. Rapid urbanisation increases the pressure on urban systems, exacerbating existing inequalities and creating new challenges to sustainable urban development. In response to these challenges, urban policy is calling for making cities more inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. However, because there is no optimum city, a city can be “improved” only in relation to priority objectives. Priorities, however, change from city to city, from person to person. To understand the priorities of citizens, public participation processes have become an integral part of urban planning.

Public participation can be any process that engages the citizenry in decision-making. When it comes to urban planning, particularly land use planning, public participation has to go beyond conventional survey methods in order to capture spatial information from the citizens. A common way to obtain spatial information is through participatory mapping. There is a range of tools available for participatory mapping; however, a digital tool that is both open-source and survey-oriented is currently not available.

This project aims at developing an open-source public participation tool - the Citizen Voice. Citizen Voice is a digital survey tool based on geographical information systems (GIS). The focus of Citizen Voice is on digital participatory mapping, enabling the collection of spatial data directly from citizens. An important aspect of the development of Citizen Tool is a user-friendly interface with focus on data visualisation. This characteristic is key for an effective communication with decision makers as well as communities, creating opportunities for dialogue, joint analysis, debate, and deliberative process.

Citizen Voice supports urban research by enabling the gathering of information that is not otherwise available for a better spatial understanding of the urban environment and how it affects people. Citizen Voice supports urban practitioners and policy makers by making visible the needs and aspirations of citizens, potentially leading to better planning decisions. Citizen Voice supports citizens by opening a channel for citizens to voice their experiences, needs, and aspirations for their city and/or neighbourhood.

Key Features

  • Open Source
  • Gather data that is not otherwise available
  • Provides local and contextualised knowledge
  • Foster social learning and empowerment
  • Has the potential to engage vulnerable social groups

We are seeking partnerships with municipalities, citizen groups or community-led research and implementation organisations to develop and implement Citizen Voice in practice. Get in touch if you are interested in opportunities for collaborations.

Juliana E. Goncalves
Juliana E. Goncalves
Postdoc Researcher

With a quantitative background and an analytic mind, I collaborate with people across disciplines and sectors to develop solutions for a sustainable and just society. I believe it is possible to transform the world.

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