D-CENT (Decentralised Citizens ENgagement Technologies) is an ambitious project developing digital tools for social movements, civic innovators and civil society groups for direct democracy and economic empowerment.
D-CENT is an open, decentralized, privacy-aware, and non-commercial alternative for non-profit sector to organize its activities. It also offers a trusted alternative to engage citizens into the political process, fostering deliberation and decision-making.
The platform is built together with users. D-CENT will be tested through large scale pilots in Finland, Iceland and Spain addressing real problems of citizen movements, and experimenting with online tools for direct democracy, deliberation, and decision-making.
Besides the platform, the project explores how to link democratic decision-making to currencies, experimenting how communities might manage common goods and facilitate online exchanges with Bitcoin-style digital social currencies.
Digital tools for networking, deliberation and decision-making
Emerging social movements often face similar kinds of challenges when forming up and scale. These issues are often related to practical things such as how to organize decision making, working, actions, and communications. D-CENT aims to offer secure and easy-to-use digital tools which solve these common – but fundamental – problems and also support the emerging new citizen movements.
D-CENT also aims to develop experiments for the future design of Democratic Assemblies, such as Parliaments and City Councils. It will create a federated platform for democratic political participation that can enable internet-mediated mass scale social change and citizen engagement in policy-making on a much larger scale, eventually federating throughout Europe.
There are already numerous web apps and platforms offering digital tools for democratic deliberation. However, all these services have previously been designed and used separately from each other, and they lack key functionalities. D-CENT wants to create a decentralized ecosystem of open software solutions, supporting each other. With the use of open standards, open data, and open protocols, open source developers can build new applications in an easy and modular fashion, and exploit the network effect of a federated solution.
One of the main DCENT principles is privacy and security by design, and citizens’ control of personal and social data. Currently social media platforms are very basic and dependent on centralized social networking platforms whose functionality is not aimed at more long-term democratic decision-making and self-organization.
D-CENT wants to create longer-term sustainable public alternatives to today’s highly centralized platforms and power structures when it comes to user identities, democratic decision making, and community currencies.
D-CENT code-base will be described by open specifications and released under an open source license, so that future developers will be easily able to write API-based apps on top of the codebase, and new modules can easily be added. Thus, the platform can also evolve after the lifetime of the project to keep in touch with needs of citizen groups. The platform will be developed and iterated together with a large community of free software developers.
D-CENT is supported by the European Union and funded under the Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development (FP7). The budget for 2,5 years is 2,5 million euros. The nine partners from six European countries: Finland, France, United Kingdom, Iceland, Netherlands and Spain.