Participatory Budgeting and Technology

Written by
  • lucy
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Last week we held our first Open Meeting on Software for Participatory Budgeting. We just scratched the surface of this huge topic, but here are the first notes. A full write up in blog-post form will follow after a few more calls

You can contribute to and edit these notes directly via this wiki page

If you are interested in joining the next call, Thursday 8th March, 5pm GMT, please add your name and Skype ID to the etherpad. In the meantime, discussion will continue via the Participatory Budgeting Google Group.

Outline of discussion (more detailed notes on the wiki)

  • We worked a lot around the PB budget software census - please continue to add examples and thoughts here

Topics raised

  • Before examining technical approaches, what should we bear in mind? Notes in Wiki section
  • Personal experiences and lessons learned in using software for PB. Notes in Wiki section
  • Classification of PB tools in the census. Please feel free to comment on and edit the classifications in the wiki page:
  • Deliberation - *Allows user input, crowdsourcing ideas and facilitating discussion e.g. collecting ideas for projects *
  • Simulation - Allows participants to explore how certain spending/revenue choices impact the budget. Such applications are usually educational.
  • Cuts and Additions Users given simple choice to prioritise a given choice more or less highly. Can be used to propose politically unpopular activities (i.e. Poison List).
  • Trade Offs *Users given context on the impact of proposed choices and asked to assess relative benefits *
  • Personal Impact Users shown what the impact on them personally would be (e.g. increasing spending above budget levels increasing the amount of tax they pay as an individual)
  • Problem Fixing Ask for allocations of more money to solve particular problems that people care about (e.g. on a Fix My Street model)
  • Invite to offline-participation No survey conducted online, but technology used to issue invitations e.g. to town hall meetings where projects will be discussed
  • Kickstart/Pledgebank If additional funds required to get a project off the ground - feedback and the opportunity for citizens to make in-kind or cash contributions
  • Long Term e.g. capital investments
  • Immediate Term e.g. for the next year’s budget
  • Tools to aid comprehension of the budget process: How do we ensure that people casting their vote through this system genuinely understand the choices they are about to make? Notes in Wiki section
  • Who are the users? Notes in Wiki Section Clear feeling amongst participants that any application that is built must address the needs of the entire spectrum of users. *I have added a key in a tab on the PB census called ‘User Key’ - where we briefly attempted to categorise the types of users who may be expected to interact with this system - I would be grateful to anyone who would like to add to it and also help me to complete the ‘Types of user’ column on the main sheet! *

Where Do We Go From Here?

You decide, but I would suggest:

  • Planning a followup call (5pm GMT, Thursday 8th March, please add agenda items to the etherpad)

And in the meanwhile:

Please share your thoughts on the discussion (please add anything if I have forgotten) via the Participatory Budgeting Google Group:

  • Categorisations and
  • User groups section of the census