Better Reykjavik shines in an independent audit
In its six years of operation, over 70,000 people have used Better Reykjavik in Iceland to voice, debate and prioritize ideas to improve their city. According to a thorough independent audit, Better Reykjavik has proven to be an important tool for citizens to participate and communicate with city official and politicians online.
Better Reykjavik is a website designed to promote citizen participation and collaborative problem solving in city governance. It helps citizens to submit policy proposals to the municipal government. Since its launch, Better Reykjavik has inspired more than 70,000 people to propose and discuss over 4,200 ideas.
According to a recently published independent audit, citizens of Reykjavik are generally happy with Better Reykjavik. Among those respondents who know the platform, 67% stated they were happy, while only 7% stated they were unhappy. Among the 2,500 people surveyed, about 2/3 said they were familiar with the platform and the project. The report also concludes that there is a strong general will to participate and be able to communicate with city official and politicians online.
“We at the Citizens Foundation are very pleased with the results of the audit and looking forward to taking citizen participation in Reykjavik and other cities further in coming months and years. We are a non-profit grassroots organization and this success is a testament to how effective bottom-up driven citizen participation projects can be.” says Robert Bjarnason, president of the Citizens Foundation.
The main future recommendations relate to setting official goals for the project, city official not being as happy as citizen with those processes as the projects have not been integrated well enough into city workflows. Also the report recommends increasing the level of dialog between citizens and officials.
A new release of Better Reykjavik both software and city processes is planned this spring.
The audit was commissioned by the city of Reykjavík and performed by the Institute of Public Administration and Politics in the University of Iceland. The audit took one year to complete. Better Reykjavik is one of three D-CENT pilots and is created by the Citizen Foundation, one of the partners of the D-CENT project.
Boosting municipal democracy
Better Reykjavik was launched in 2010 by grassroots activists as a platform for a frustrated citizenry to express their views about how to move forward after the financial crisis that hit the country in 2008. Embraced first by the Best Party and Social Democrats after the city elections in 2010, is it’s also now championed by the Pirate Party and Left Greens that became part of the majority coalition government after the city elections in 2014. It has nowadays been formally adopted as an official channel for citizen petitions of the government.
Better Reykjavik enables citizens to voice, debate and prioritize ideas to improve their city. It creates open discourse between community members and City Council, and gives the voters a direct influence on decision-making.
Since its launch, Better Reykjavik has supported 420 new construction ideas in through a binding participatory budget vote. Other 1,045 policy ideas have received formal consideration from the municipal government with 220 approved, 489 rejected and 336 still in process in city committees.
News at the website of the city of Reykjavik (‘Happiness with eDemocracy in Reykjavik’):
Full report (in Icelandic) can be downloaded here: