Platforms for digital participation

If you are on a mobile device, please view this overview on a tablet / desktop / laptop or in landscape mode.

Are you interested in digital solutions for participation? You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

There are various digital solutions for participation already in place. We want to guide you through some of these solutions. As a starting point, we have mapped available open-source platforms for public participation.

Why open source?

Building an “in-house” IT solution is resource-consuming and challenging. Commercial software packages come with expensive license fees. Free and open-source Software (FOSS) refers to any software published under a licence that gives all users of that software four freedoms: the freedom to use, understand, distribute and improve the software for any purpose.

Popular examples of open-source software: Firefox internet browser, WordPress web publishing software, software behind Wikipedia

Examples for proprietary software: Microsoft Office, SAP, Adobe Photoshop

Using open-source software

  • enables a sustainable operating and development model even after a solution has been handed implemented in an institution. This means that local service providers can take over the further development, maintenance and support of the software without restrictions. Open-source software can be reused and scaled indefinitely – locally as well as globally.
  • is an expression of committing to the “Principles for Digital Development”-
  • promotes collaboration and sharing because it permits other people to make modifications to source code and incorporate those changes into their own projects. 

Our partners: Open-source Platforms for Participation

PartiCipate is cooperating with, so far, 4 open-source platforms for participation. These platforms are: Consul, Adhocracy+, CitizenOS and Ushahidi. They are ready to be used for your participation journey. To make it easier for you to understand the differences, we have analysed each of the platforms for you.

"Makes digital democracy easy - for everyone no matter where."
"Free Citizen OS platform for asynchronous meetings & citizen participation"
"Anybody can submit a proposal to improve their city, others can support it"
"Data crowdsourcing and mapping tool that allows people to collect, manage and analyze crowdsourced information"
Adhocracy+ has a focus on providing digital citizen participation for a broad range of target groups: municipalities, NGOs, governments.
Citizen OS has a focus on the decision-making part within the citizen participation process.
Consul has a clear focus on digital citizen participation especially for cities and national governments.
Ushahidi has a clear focus on data crowdsourcing without the need of an internet connection.
Can we ask citizens for information or ideas (“Petitions”, “Data Crowdsourcing” or “Brainstorming”)?
Yes “citizens can submit their own ideas and discuss the ideas of others, they can also locate them on a map.”
Yes, you can “get input from a wider audience” through the crowdsourcing of ideas.” You can also initiate and sign petitions and send those directly to the local government or parliament.
Yes, “citizens can create a proposal and seek support, other people can discuss the proposed topic”.
Yes, you can do “data crowdsourcing and mapping that allows to rapidly collect, manage and analyze crowdsourced information from communities”. The data mostly comes through SMS, e-mail, and Twitter and can then be analyzed based on geolocation and keywords.
Can citizens deliberate on proposals or conduct a live debate (“Collaborative Documents” or “Virtual Assemblies”)?
Yes, “citizens can discuss the paragraphs of a text”, “citizens can lead structured discussions”. At a (live) event citizens can follow a live stream and “ask their questions online, other participants can support the question.”
Yes, there is the feature to “co-create texts”. You can also do “rational, balanced group discussions, public or private, weighing up the pros and cons.”
Yes, “legislative texts can be shared with the public to receive comments on any particular part of it”.
Can citizens collaboratively make decisions (“Voting” or “Participatory Budgeting”)?
Yes, “citizens can submit their own suggestions and add a budget. Ideas of others can be discussed and rated (pro/contra)”.
Yes, citizens can “make decisions with customisable voting.” There is also the feature to do “anonymous voting with deadlines” and “mini-votes and vote delegation”.
Yes, it’s a “secure voting system for citizen proposals and enquiries from the institution”. Furthermore “everyone can propose and decide directly how to spend part of the budget.”