Better Reykjavik - "up-scoring" & "down-scoring" your way to the urban future

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From the land where the Pirate Party is a major player, an elegant new process whereby the citizens of Reykjavik can get their voice right into the heart of the city's government: Better Reykjavik.

See the blurb below, which outlines the process (but also check out the Financial Times report, which shows some of the teething troubles):

Better Reykjavík is an online consultation forum where citizens are given the chance to present their ideas on issues regarding services and operations of the City of Reykjavík. Anyone can view the open forum and registered users who approve the terms of participation can participate in the forum.

Registered users participate in the consultation forum by presenting their ideas, viewing other users‘ ideas, arguing issues, voicing their opinion and by rating ideas and argumentation by supporting or opposing them.

When a user presents an idea on the Better Reykjavík forum, it is automatically considered the public property of the residents of Reykjavík and the original idea can change considerably during the consultative process provided on this forum. The City of Reykjavík has the right to use the ideas presented on the Better Reykjavík consultation forum.

When using Better Reykjavík it is important to keep in mind that the City of Reykjavík is a governing authority that operates according to the law and regulations of Iceland and has a specific purview. Therefore, all of the ideas presented will not necessary be formally addressed.

The City of Reykjavík commits itself to formally address the ideas presented on Better Reykjavík in the following manner: Each month, the five top rated ideas are processed in the appropriate standing committee.

In addition, the top rated idea in each category is addressed in the appropriate standing committee every month (the categories are tourism, operations, recreation and leisure, sports, human rights, art and culture, education, transportation, planning, administration, environment, welfare, various).

The procedure is as follows:

  • At 12 noon, on the last weekday of each month, the five top rated ideas on Better Reykjavík and the top rated idea of each category are moved into a specific area on the Better Reykjavík site after which they can no longer be rated.
  • These ideas, along with the arguments and discussions about them, are addressed in the appropriate standing committee as soon as possible. They should preferably be addressed within one month.
  • Summer holidays in the standing committees can however prolong the formal address of the ideas.
  • A standing committee can send ideas to district committees for discussion as needed. Other ideas that are not addressed by the City of Reykjavík will remain open for discussion among the users of Better Reykjavík.
  • Lesser rated ideas are intended to guide elected representatives and city administrators.
  • An idea that is addressed by the City of Reykjavík‘s administration is presented in the name of Better Reykjavík as a crowdsourced idea.
  • The appropriate standing committee addresses the ideas of Better Reykjavík and handles in accordance with the terms of reference of each committee. The process of the idea as well as the committee‘s finalization of the idea, when ready, will be published on Better Reykjavík.
  • Please note that a final decision on the process and handling of individual ideas presented on Better Reykjavík is in the hands of the city government.

The Better Reykjavík website is expected to be developed to become a venue for electronic surveys or consultation of various sorts, such as policy making or budgeting prioritization. An electronic voting system for individual issues is also a realistic goal, i.e. with electronic identification.

More here. This is a project of the excellent Citizens Foundation, set up after Iceland's various recent crises in economy and governance - their projects are here, and their blog is here.

Urban e-democracy has been long promised - let's see if this scheme works.