In our series of short articles, we highlight how EUROCITIES members across Europe are engaging with their citizens.
Gdansk is a fast-developing metropolitan hub with a growing ICT, R&D, and startup community. The residents have high expectations for their city’s accelerated growth and development. To meet these expectations, the municipal leaders have decided to strengthen the involvement of the inhabitants in the decision making processes, and to increase their trust, participation, and engagement by relying more on open data and public consultations. As a result, the citizens are more aware of how the city is run and can directly participate in local governance.
Gdansk develops its openness policy in several ways.
First, by sharing data sets whenever possible. For example, the city publishes the amounts spent on urban furniture and all its other expenditures in an interactive and easy to understand format. Citizens can ask questions, and answers are provided directly by the city on a dedicated portal. Raw data (XML) is also available for further processing.
The city also develops its own web applications to demonstrate the potential of open data, and encourages independent IT professionals to use it. By exploiting open data, residents can easily find places in the city where trees can be planted or waste can be recycled.
Data generated by the city is:
- freely available for anyone to use and republish for any purpose (open format)
- credible and timely
- comprehensive and transparent
- structured to allow automated processing by applications or websites
- simple to use
Second, Gdansk has involved its citizens in public consultationson a municipal strategy for the period up to 2030, and on budgets for projects in the city and its districts. Children were also invited to participate in the public consultation as future adults - and citizens. The city has also organised roundtables to discuss problems and vote on possible solutions together with residents, experts, members of the scientific community, and city officials.
Open data can increase transparency, trust, and efficiency if used in a bottom-up approach, where citizens are involved from the start and are able to understand what is at stake. Residents now have a more direct connection with the city and its elected representatives.
Over 3,000 inhabitants have participated in the roundtables dedicated to the Gdansk 2030 strategy. The city’s other initiatives include a civic panel, where residents discuss climate change with experts and make recommendations for the city; and a participatory budget, where the locals decide how to allocate part of the municipal budget.
On 7 March, EUROCITIES will host a mayors summit in Brussels, where European mayors together with European and national leaders will address rising populism and Euroscepticism, and will discuss further ways to engage citizens in a positive political process.
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