Participation in decision making

- What does genuine public involvement in decision making look like? - How can deliberation work locally and in communities work most inclusively? - How can an Under 16s Citizens Assembly work most inclusively?

Why the contribution is important

We want the Open Government Action Plan to reflect public priorities, so we're keen to hear your views

by Maddie_ScotGov on June 04, 2021 at 01:43PM

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  • Posted by clc June 09, 2021 at 23:02

    Genuine public engagement in decision making depends on engaging the public at a level that they understand and empowering them to affect change as much as possible. Technology can be a force multiplier here by offering the means for the public to engage in dialogue with decision makers as the decisions are taking place. As a representative democracy, we can also provide the information and channels necessary for people to directly influence decisions as they are made at the local as well as the national levels. To me, this would start in the grassroots with discussions on local issues and influences relevant to councils and communities. These could be shaped and scoped and potential solutions and success criteria could be deliberated. With a combination of policymaker's experience and engagement from interested members of the public, a solution could be chosen out of several options. The outcomes of the solution can then be measured and reported through the success criteria and continued engagement could inform necessary adjustments. Throughout this process, it is key that there are checks and balances to ensure that there is independent review and reporting of issues, solutions and outcomes by experts to prevent significant harm and to flag potential implementation issues. This same process can be scaled to the national level with a slightly heavier weighting to experts and policy makers to account for the higher potential impact of the changes. The goal would be to provide the means for the public to more directly influence their own communities and to tailor governance to the local level. In terms of what that would translate to on a technological level, the Swiss and Estonian models provide a good start. Fundamental are good moderation, security and open standards. Often discussions on social media like Facebook, Reddit and Nextdoor indicate a sense of powerlessness over local issues, not everybody is willing and able to write to their MSP/MP or media. Any improvement over this is welcome, as engagement with Petition Parliament and whatdotheyknow has evidenced at a national level. A social-media-like system focused on informing, scoping, discussing, voting and reporting on decisions at the local and national level would be inclusive in the sense that any Scottish citizen with access to the internet could engage. This could be expanded even further with paper digests and phone-in options for the technologically disinclined. Engaging under 16s can be accomplished the same way - this is the group most open to using new technologies and that are most familiar with platforms like TikTok and Reddit. Providing the means for any verified Scottish citizen to easily and directly with decision making can only lead to better governance for all.
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