Civic tech beliefs 2023

20230522

I realized I have some beliefs before joining CitizenLab that I've been collapsing a bit more during these first two weeks. I'm positive that I'm extremely wrong on some predictions, so I'm eager to review this in some months:

Beliefs:

  • [2025] I believe in either self-developed or open-source initiatives for civic software as the only real option for long-term State-level bets on software. Cities seem to be the sweet spot for experimentation with closed-source alternatives.

  • [2025] I believe high citizen participation/engagement has a correlation with geopolitically hostile realities. I've informally noticed this in regions where citizens might be subject to a common, bigger state enemy (Catalonia, Ireland, Kurdistan, Ukraine, Palestine, Taiwan). This engagement comes from a deep emotion of belonging, whereas in more stable cities/states participation tends to be more pragmatic or boring.

  • I no longer believe a high % of citizen participation is important per se or a good KPI – rather I think it's important to identify which citizens are impacted by which topics, and be able to work with opposing groups to rough consensus on those topics.


Predictions:

  • [2030] Digital binding voting won't have any spread on a state level. Strict rules and security requirements waterfall down to the city level. I believe we will only see experimentation on more frequent, binding, digital referendums in Estonia, or countries where security requirements don't slow implementation.

  • [2025] CitizenLab will dominate the European participation market at a city level: I think decentralized approaches to governance (Decidim) won't be able to keep up with the pace of innovation possible in private/centralized enterprises (CitizenLab).