Europe's e-AGORA prompted a participatory budgeting initiative in Ipatinga, Brazil, allowing the city to use various communication technologies from Latin America and Europe, both online and offline, to incentivize citizen participation with the goal of revitalizing democracy.
Problems and Purpose
The European e-AGORA program began with the relationship between democratic practices and the use of technology in the media. This initiative was coordinated by the city of Issy-les-Moulineaux, France and had the goal of coordinating between Latin American and European cities on the topic of democracy. The way of achieving this was by permitting the two regions to interchange their used practices, their know-how and experience; accordingly, a program could be established which seeks to solve different problems affecting democracy in each region that are principally related to citizens’ participation. 
e-AGORA was put together by two cities in Europe, namely Issy-les-Moulineaux in France and Frameries in Belgium, and the two Brazilian cities of Ipatinga and Juiz de Fora; as well as Viña del Mar in Chile. 
There were 11 programs financed by the European Commission (70 percent) which were put into place in European and Latin American cities between 1999 and 2006.
Beginning as the result of a report which revealed apathy among citizens in terms of participating in local politics and also a lack of confidence in the government, the program e-AGORA planned to use various communication technologies to incentivize citizens to participate in order to revitalize democracy. 
Background History and Context
In 2001, various meetings in the communities of Ipatinga took place where leaders brought up written proposals by citizens. Proposals contained ideas of public works so that they could be financed.  The government offered a certain budget so that citizens could share their opinion in these meetings in terms of what would be the most appropriate outcome.
The city of Ipatinga was a pioneer in using the internet as a complementary tool so that citizens could indicate their vote and their opinion. It has been perceived that the use of the internet has led to an increase in the participation of women and the youth and has furthermore incentivized people to go to face-to-face meetings. 
Originating, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The participatory budget of Ipatinga was financed by the European Commission by 70 percent and 30 percent by the governments of each participating city. 
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The people who were part of the goal of the program were political authorities, local workers, members of society, in general a group of people who could represent their cities.  The program has "contacted a minimum of 62 and a maximum of 107 direct beneficiaries" in each city.  They should be able to transmit and share their knowledge over the program with their neighbours and other acquaintances. In the end, the program counts on the participation of at least 124 to a maximum of 214 people. 
Methods and Tools Used
Electronic means of communication were used to give citizens the power to control determined political responsibilities. Transparency in political processes could accordingly be reinforced while augmenting citizen participation in political decisions.
This initiative is also an example of participatory budgeting, an increasingly common method of democratic innovation broadly described as "a decision-making process through which citizens deliberate and negotiate over the distribution of public resources." There are many benefits associated with participatory budgeting including increased civic and democratic education; increased government transparency; and an increased opportunity for participation by historically marginalized populations.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
In 2005 in Ipatinga, assisted by a marketing campaign on TV, radio and in newspapers, the city administration together with the e-AGORA project launched an experiment based on using the telephone as another informational tool.  It consisted of :
- A toll-free number so citizens could call and give their opinion over related budget allotments
- SMS messages were sent to citizens incentivizing people to participate in face-to-face meetings
- A voice-automated recording system, recorded by the city mayor, informing over the meetings
The goal of using the telephone as a medium was designed to reach the most excluded and poor population on information that was listed on the internet. All in all, 2,950 SMS messages were delivered, and 30,817 calls were made, of which 29,811 were heard in their totality.  This means that 96 percent of citizens that answered the calls heard the whole message. 
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The experiment was part of the evaluation by the Electronic Democracy Center and the information below reflects what was observed :
- Compared with the previous year, before the experiment, an increase of 14.7 percent of participation among citizens was recorded.
- 48 percent of those who went to meetings had previously seen the website or heard of it via telephone
- More than 50 percent of those who went to face-to-face meetings sad that the telephone call was the tool which most motivated them to go to the meeting.
The Ipantinga case is interesting not only because of its multichannel access, but also because of the complementary nature between online and offline mediums which led to the success of the face-to-face meetings.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Want to contribute an analysis of this initiative? Help us complete this section!
 Peixoto, T. (2008). GL: e-Agora, The White Book of the Local eDemocracy. e-Agora. Retrieved from https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/sites/default/files/document/2014-12/media2001.pdf
 Martinez de Oliveira, F. (n.d.). Internet Use and Citizen Participation in Local Government: Ipatinga's Interactive Participatory Budgeting. Ash Institute of Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard University (US). Retrieved from http://imaginecomoxvalley.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Ipatinga_ITG_Case.pdf
 Peixoto, T. (2008, Sept 8) Multi-channel citizen engagement: the Ipatinga PB experience (PB part 3). DemocracySpot. Retrieved from https://democracyspot.net/2008/09/10/multi-channel-citizen-engagement-th...
"Em Ipatinga, tecnologia digital garante transparência e maior participação popular no Orçamento". Jornal da Comunicação Corporativa. [Portuguese]