Rethinking Methods of Online Participation: "Io Partecipo +" (Emilia-Romagna, Italy)

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General Issues
Governance & Political Institutions
Specific Topics
Public Participation
Digital/New Technologies
Scope of Influence
Start Date
End Date
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Decision Methods
Not Applicable
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
Public Hearings/Meetings
New Media

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Problems and Purpose

There have been profound political and social changes and the evolution of dynamics, habits and consumption patterns of the new communication means since the change in legislation around e-democracy and public participation (i.e. Law n. 3/2000 which affects both European and regional level). Subsequently, it was necessary to think over the tools and methodologies previously adopted. To this end, io Partecipo+ was developed by the Communication Services, and Education for Sustainability Tools participation of the Emilia-Romagna Region as part of the 2013 Telematic Plan which continues the Region's ongoing innovation in the fields of citizenship and participation. Specifically, the io Partecipo+ project brought together a number of expert and officials to design a method of participation which overcomes the traditional dichotomy between off-line and online participation since it is clear that a participatory process needs both dimensions to be complete, transparent and inclusive.


Since 2004 Emilia-Romagna Region has promoted projects about e-democracy; in particular the first project was and the further was Io Partecipo +. The latter project experimented solutions for the citizens involvement and participation in the development regional and local policies.

Originating Entities and Funding

The project is developed by Emilia-Romagna Region, Italy and was funded with internal resources.

Participant Recruitment and Selection

The final platform will be open to all citizens but its design saw the IoPartecipo+ team work together with the Control Room of the ER Portal and Participation Observatory. The IoPartecipo+ team included:

  • organizational processes and editorial experts of the Region
  • platform developers
  • participatory processes facilitatore
  • user experience designers

Methods and Tools Used

The io Partecipo+ Project is developed through a process of participatory planning (off and online). In particular it is foreseen to adopt co-design tecniques to define online services. The co-design is a way of working that focuses on the project end users and on the other parties involved in the services supply of services.

The co-design procedure foresees that the knowledge of end users needs and of organizatonal restrictions and opportunities, the decisional capacity and the balance between resources and objectives are essential ingredients to achieve the best possible result according to the project actual conditions. To monitor quickly this complexity and to have a result oriented approach it is necessary to engage all decision-makers in the design process. They have to be lead in setting goals, collecting and analysing basic information and in design assumptions choice.

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

The main aim of ioPartecipo+ is to provide citizens with a comprehensive view of regional policies that foresee the citizens involvement giving them the opportunity to be part of these processes. The new platform will integrate the channels already used by users (with particular reference to social networks). For instance the citizens can identify themself with the credential already in use for other sites (i.e. facebook, twitter or gmail id and password) or they can register themselves to regional federated system (Federation). This aims to facilitate access and to create synergies among the different communication channels both at regional level (RER sites) and a general level taking advantage of most popular social platforms (including through the use of widgets).

In addition to the participation services (ioPartecipo +) the project will develop guidelines, manuals and tools to support the use of the platform and the integrated management of participations instrument. The Communications Team of citizenship, composed by different regional emploeeys, will work to develop or systematize these tools in agreement with the Law 3/2010 and the Technical Assurance Participation Guidelines. Furthermore a meta-process will be permanently open to invite the web users to improve io Partecipo+ Portal.

According to the Emilia-Romagna Region's Participatory Authority, the design and implementation of the io Partecipo+ project was finished in 2014. The following describes the design and public interaction process:

"Over the course of about 10 meetings the team: conducted focus groups to listen and synthesize the views of the different categories of users (user requirements analysis phase); produced a high number of initial proposals (brainstorming phase); identified, refined and validated a list of candidates to implement ideas (concept phase); prototyped (on paper and then interactive) in order to verify the feasibility, the dimensions and the final yield of the main content and functionality (prototyping phase); subjected to the evaluation of the proposals and refined user groups prototypes (stage of detailed design). In the square "We create together ioPartecipo +" will continue to discuss with users to improve the site and services offered."[1]

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

This Project implements ​​an integrated plan of participation actions. It provides tools and guidelines in participatory way and facilitates the sinergies and the joined work among regional different sectors that work on participation themes. Furthermore the Project reinforces the information contest (i.e. ERPartecipazione, Site Guarantee Technical, Observatory of participation) thanks to a online services website.

Analysis and Lessons Learned

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Secondary Sources


External Links

Project on the Emilia-Romagna Region's Participatory Authority Website:

The EU's ePolicy Projects' overview of online legislation drafting using ioParecipo + as an example

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