Digital Participatory Platforms for Co-Production in Urban Development: A Systematic Review

Digital Participatory Platforms for Co-Production in Urban Development: A Systematic Review

Enzo Falco, Reinout Kleinhans
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/IJEPR.2018070105
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A renewed interest has appeared in citizen co-production of public services due to financial pressure on governments. While social media are considered an important facilitator, many digital participatory platforms (DPPs) have been developed to facilitate co-production between citizens and governments in the context of urban development. Previous studies have delivered a fragmented overview of DPPs in a few socio-spatial contexts and failed to take stock of the rise of DPPs. This article aims to provide a more comprehensive picture of the availability and functionalities of DPPs. Through a systematic review, 113 active DPPs have been identified, analysed, and classified within a citizen-government relationship typology. Almost a quarter of these DPPs demonstrate a realistic potential for online and offline co-production between governments and citizens. The article critically analyses the characteristics of these DPPs and explores their real-world applications in urban development. The article concludes with directions for further research.
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Collaboration and participation of citizens in governments’ activities at all levels has received increasing levels of attention in many disciplinary fields such as public administration and government studies, urban planning, public service design, computer science, and information technology (e.g. Bryer & Zavattaro, 2011; Gil de Zúñiga et al., 2010; Linders, 2012; Magro, 2012; Munthe-Kaas & Hoffmann, 2016; Sanders & Stappers, 2008; Slotterback, 2011; Verschuere et al., 2012). Much of this attention derives from the potential contribution of new social media, digital platforms and other ICTs to the interactions between (national and local) governments and citizens. Because of wider economic trends, welfare state retrenchment, devolution and new knowledge-sharing patterns, citizens’ demands and governments’ actions increasingly require two-way engagement and closer collaboration (Kleinhans et al., 2015). A renewed interest has appeared in citizen co-production of public services, especially in view of the financial pressures currently facing governments around the world (Linders, 2012; Parrado et al., 2013). Co-production generally refers to the public sector and citizens making better use of each other’s assets and resources to achieve better outcomes and improved efficiency (Bovaird & Loeffler, 2012, p. 1121). Co-production is widely regarded as a “solution to the public sector’s decreased legitimacy and dwindling resources by accessing more of society’s resources” and as a means “to reinvigorate voluntary participation and social cohesion in an increasingly fragmented and individualized society” (Brandsen & Honingh, 2016, p. 427). In line with this stance, mobile applications and platforms created by professional developers through government challenges, prizes, apps competitions, and hackathons - where governments make their data available to produce new ideas and solutions - are widespread and common (see e.g.; New York City Big Apps; Europe Open Data Challenge, Rotterdam Park Hackathon, San Diego Apps Challenges, Code for America).

While there is an abundance of literature on the use of social media for citizen-government relationships (see e.g. Bryer & Zavattaro, 2011; Magro, 2012; Mergel, 2013), this paper focuses on a more specific type of ICT: digital participatory platforms (DPPs – see Section 2 for definition), that aim to bring together public and private actors (for example Commonplace, coUrbanize, and TransformCity) (Ertiö, 2015; Desouza & Bhagwatwar, 2014). While DPPs have a large potential for facilitating two-way interactions between government and citizens, previous studies highlight that their application to truly foster interaction, mutual collaboration and co-production of ideas, solutions and new services has not been so widespread (Afzalan & Evans-Cowley, 2015; Desouza & Bhagwatwar, 2012; Ertiö, 2015; Williamson & Parolin, 2013; Zavattaro & Sementelli, 2014).

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