DemTools in Urban Areas
Over half of the world’s population lives in cities, as of 2014, and the percentage is expected to reach two-thirds by 2050. One in eight urban dwellers lives in “megacities” (those cities with over 10 million residents). Urbanization and megacities present large and complex challenges for democratic governance.
While urban policy has traditionally been viewed as “technical” in nature, the urban face of issues such as inequality (including its gender and ethnic dimensions), the need for economic growth, public health and environmental degradation are largely governance issues. Their remedies lie in legislation, regulations and in decisions by public officials concerning the allocation of resources. In turn, these decisions are affected by political dynamics that determine whose voices are reflected in the policy-making process.
In response to demographic shifts and the increase in the number of cities with populations over 10 million, NDI has developed new approaches to urban governance and civic engagement. In cities, political polarization and gridlock are often less pronounced, enabling innovative approaches to development. Among these approaches have included embedding a culture of innovation to promote creativity and experimentation in administrative processes and partnerships, reshaping information flows to create more open, responsible governance and bringing diverse citizen voices early into planning, policy making and service monitoring.
Aligned with these approaches, and in response to urban democratic needs in Indonesia, NDItech has invested in it’s suite of DemTools to improve their capabilities and make them available in Bahasa. These DemTools intend to reshape information flows and deepen government and citizen engagement: FixMyCommunity, Petitions, and Civi.
Effective public service delivery depends on allocating resources to the most critical needs of a community and deploying them as promised. For many city governments, there is limited transparency and accountability around service provision. Lacking information on citizen desires and service needs, administrators often have no easy way to prioritize services, and without information from citizens, government employees in charge of service delivery lack the incentives for needed reforms.
FixMyCommunity is a system for citizens to report problems in infrastructure or service delivery. The platform makes it easy to report local problems from a computer or smartphone. The tool doesn’t just send problem reports (ex. crime, trash pickup) to the responsible department, but it also tracks the issue's location and category and makes the report and its history visible to everyone.
City governments benefit from citizens organizing and advocating around priority issues. If a government wants to better learn about citizen needs, and support the will of the people to highlight popular ideas, Petitions can be a powerful tool. Petitions is an online platform where citizens publish their ideas for change, share them with their community, and gather signatures for the issues they care about. Government officials can see open petitions and respond at any time, engaging citizens throughout the policymaking process.
Many city governments and civil society organizations lack the strategic communications and digital tools for effective outreach and response. Even when organizations have lists of individuals, they often lack a centralized platform for managing and tracking the history of their interactions with these individuals.
Civi is a constituent relationship management (CRM) system that helps government and citizen organizations manage their contacts and communicate effectively via SMS and email. Government officials and civil society groups are most effective when they can communicate with, understand and respond to the needs of their constituents and members.