New trend at municipalities: Urban participatory systems

by Participation Factory

What to do when the city hall organizes more processes and it is hard to be well versed in project-planning?

Long gone are the days when only a handful of individuals in the Czech Republic had an idea of what participation is. As a result of rapid development in recent years, terms such as participatory budgeting or participatory planning are now a common part of the vocabulary for most city halls in the country. However, with increasing experience and a number of implemented projects, in particular, state officials and politicians are now facing a new challenge: successful urban participation requires a different conceptual approach to participation as a system.

Exactly this topic — “How to design urban participatory system” — was the subject of our lecture and a follow-up workshop at the last Smart Citizenship Academy in Cascais, Portugal. About one hundred practitioners, researchers, politicians, and officials devoted to participation came to the city to be known as an indisputable leader of participatory planning in the EU. “A participatory system is a framework, an agenda that enables municipalities to plan out properly on what issues and topics to proceed in a participatory way. The system must make sense and also take a great number of variables into account. Does the municipality have enough capacity? Does it use communication effectively? Does it do the right projects? Are the necessary skills available across the authority? Does the city culture really favors participatory planning?” commented Tomáš Rákos, CEO of the Participation Factory in his presentation.

The process of creating such a system is relatively complicated and requires experience. To put it simply, the process can be divided into three parts: audit, design, and implementation

“The most frequent obstacle is not the lack of citizens’ interest in participating,” explains Rákos, “the pediment in most cases is a poor preparedness of municipalities”. It’s not specific politicians or officials to blame. Participatory planning is quite a new field of expertise. The problem is that they do not have the know-how. And its deficiency hinders the development of successful participation in the cities.”

But in fact, the positive impact of participatory planning in progressive municipalities is no longer doubted. As a great many studies show, well-crafted participation saves money and time. It also increases the trust of people in the municipality, as well as the quality of life in their community. 

So, does your city need a participatory system? Let us know and get a free consultation!


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