Experience of participation strengthens trust
The goal of the participation and interaction model approved in Helsinki in 2017 is to increase the transparency of decision-making and to strengthen customer- and user-orientation aspects in the development of services. The principles of participation include the utilisation of the knowledge and expertise of individuals and communities, enabling independent activities and creating equal opportunities for participation.
The city-level participation and interaction model describes the structures, goals and key areas of participation work. The participation plans of the divisions summarise the objectives and measures to strengthen the participation of residents in the development of services.
The participation objectives are implemented in ten themes: regional participation especially through the city pilot and corporate pilot activities, processing and utilising initiatives and feedback, open data, promoting digital inclusion, opening up the use of the city’s premises, participatory budgeting, divisions’ participation work, volunteering, and aspects presented by decision-making bodies (Youth Council, Council on Disability and Elderly Citizens Council).
The experience of participation strengthens citizens’ trust in the activities of public authorities and in social activities and services in general. It helps to accept commonly established rules and practices and to understand the reasoning behind different perspectives. Participatory budgeting has increased discussion about the development needs of city districts between residents and communities.
Digital support is important
The city supports the activity of city residents and service users in organisations and communities with significant financial and operational investments. The city has also opened premises for residents and communities for independent activities.
However, participation in the planning and decision-making of the city’s services cannot be imagined today without the digital dimension. For this reason, it is important to recognise that participation in digital platforms requires adequate skills and appropriate equipment, which are not available to all residents. The digital support services provided by the city at service points and in the form of remote digital support make it possible to lower the barriers to participation.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has also been seen in the city’s participation work. A wide variety of digital ways of interacting with residents have emerged, and so have hybrid events within limitations.
- The voting turnout of 8% in the first round of participatory budgeting in 2019 is good internationally.
- The equality of citizens and accessibility of participation channels for all must be ensured in the implementation of participation.