Democracy by Design

The push for Smarter Cities is accompanied by a growing demand for innovations processes and technologies that are sensitive and responsive to the needs and values of citizens. Smart city digital technologies should be democratic. Several initiatives, manifestos and approaches have addressed this challenge by focusing on citizens engagement, co-creation, and shared ownership at various stages in the innovation trajectory. Some have argued that technological innovation should be opened up to the myriad of voices from the earliest possible stages. Others have proposed radically different visions of democratic Smart Cities. How can policy makers, developers, innovators and project managers choose between the different approaches and when do they know their technologies are democratic enough? Moreover, can the technologies that they are already working on be made more democratic, and if so how?

The University of Maastricht, AMS Institute and Alliander have worked together to develop a diagnostic tool for democracy by design (DbD). This tool is intended to help policy makers, project managers, innovators and technologists to think through how their proposed technological systems for public infrastructures can align with democratic decision-making processes in cities. 

In this break-out session, we will present the DbD diagnostic tool and in an interactive discussion explore some of the possibilities of this tool in the area of digital public infrastructure for energy solutions. We will also invite participants to discuss DbD in general. What does it entail? What does it require? How to include democratic values in smart decision-making processes?

With a.o.:
Thijs Turel (Alliander)
Merel Noorman (Assistant Professor, Tilburg University)
Tsjalling Swierstra (Professor, Maastricht University)
Ebru İşgüzarer-Önder (Programme Developer, AMS Institute).

This workshop is part of the second round of the break-out sessions (14:15-15:15h) of the day conference Next Generation Cities on Thursday, June 21.