Gijon City Council in Spain has responded to the need for greater efficiency, transparency and participatory democracy by implementing a digital platform enabling residents to share responsibility for governing and managing the city.
Gijon city council is committed to becoming a smart city by developing sustainable initiatives addressing the social and economic realities of the city. The council recognised that it needed to operate more transparently and openly and work hand in hand with citizens to fully understand the status of the city and the experiences and views of those living in it. Subsequently, the council resolved to provide wide and easy access to public data and to empower and enable citizens to take an active part in the workings of government.
Originally published by EUROCITIES, the network of 130 European cities - PDF: http://www.eurocities.eu/eurocities/news/Cities-in-action-Gijon-s-new-governance-model-WSPO-ANSK94
This project was shortlisted for the 'EUROCITIES Awards' in 2016 in the following category: Participation. Learn more about the award.
Background and objectives
Gijon is one of the most populated cities on the northern coast of Spain, with its share of urban problems. In working towards its goal of using integrated technologies to provide smart services across the city, the council has launched a smart citizen card, introduced e-government initiatives and established mechanisms for collecting city data and in 2014 adopted the Citizen Participation and Open Government Strategy.
The purpose of this Strategy is to encourage the effective application of the ICT in the city to encourage opportunities for economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship; to improve the quality of life, the welfare of people and the level of public services that receive.
The Strategy includes procedures for co-participation, co-decision making, co-creation of information and co-production of public services. An integrated ‘platform for participation’ was developed to enable facilitation of these activities. This platform hosts three portals which release city and governmental data to the public for the first time in a clear and meaningful way.
The long-term objective is to ensure that the platform continues to add value to the city as an essential element of its smart city infrastructure by accelerating the digital transformation process of the city council, create a ‘city nerve system’ enabling truly intelligent management of resources and services and bring the Internet of Things to public life.
The first portal on the participation platform to go live was Observa Gijón (Watch Gijon), an ‘urban observatory’ providing access to nearly four million sets of records related to the city’s economic management, local government activity and welfare indicators. The portal has been accessed more than one million times by people wanting to learn, analyse and evaluate real-time management of the city, including municipal budgets and investments. As a source of data on the city’s different business sectors, Observa can also inspire entrepreneurs to, for example, build an app that guides art lovers around the city’s galleries.
The second portal, Cuida Gijón (Care for Gijon) means citizens can help maintain and conserve the city’s streets and facilities, encouraging personal responsibility and saving government money. People can quickly communicate, via the Cuida website or app, issues they notice such as street lights that aren’t working or benches that are damaged. For transparency, all reported issues are published online and updated when they are fixed. As well as dealing with around 1,000 complaints a year, the portal also receives approximately 275 improvement ideas. For example, Cuida’s inventory of municipal land and properties gives citizens the opportunity to check ownership and, if unused, to propose new community uses.
The third portal, Participa Gijón (Participate in Gijon), is the primary mechanism for promoting and strengthening participatory government. Here, citizens can learn about council initiatives, put forward their own, comment on different topics and proposals and take part in a collaborative decision making. New regulations, city plans and competitions are open for public debate. One of the biggest collaborative decisions made via Participa has been how best to spend the city of Gijon’s 2017 €6 million participative budget.
The portals are being enriched and enlarged day by day as more projects and issues are opened up for discussion and residents add their own information and ideas. Users’ collective intelligence and low-cost electronic voting are making a valuable contribution to the tools’ ongoing cost-effectiveness.
Financing and resources
The lead agency for the project is the Gijon city council with total funds of €203,000 from the municipal budget and the European Regional Development Fund, the council has collaborated with business, NGO and technology partners to turn its vision into reality.
Results and impacts
- Direct savings from the processing of procedures
- Reducing workloads
- Publication, information, processing in real time
- Use of mobile technology
- The development of new applications on IOT technology
- Open third-party creation spaces with apps and Big Data solutions
- Collaboration with other cities and provinces to implement the system
Barriers and challenges
The participation platform encourages citizens to see themselves as co-responsible for the daily management of the city. The challenge now is to engage more citizens to become involved. To reach them, the city has created a communication programme of workshops, micro-sites, videos, mentoring and working groups.
To overcome barriers to progress within the council itself, such as lack of digital know-how, a plan is being rolled out to modernise the municipal organisation so that it can better support Gijon’s smart city strategy.
Lessons learned and transferability
The project is fully replicable, it allows a user to share part of the infrastructure (all the backend, back-office and frontend in Cloud), as well as data sets, indicators, dashboard and the metrics that are obtained from this service.