Betri Reykjavik - e-democracy

Betri Reykjavik - e-democracy

English

Problems and Purpose

Betri Reykjavik, or Better Reykjavik is an online platform that hosts two participatory initiatives: Citizen Foundation, (est. 2008) and the Your Priorities (est. 2009). It is freely accessible by any government or municipality around the world.

Betri Reykjavik combines deliberative and participatory democracy and gives citizens a space where they can suggest, debate and vote for budgetary decisions and other communal projects, without facing issues due to social or political background like in other modes of public citizens’ deliberation. Betri Reykjavik is independent and not affiliated with a specific political party, however political parties as well as ordinary citizens are encouraged to participate and propose their ideas on how to change Reykjavik for the better.

History

Know what events led up to this initiative? Help us complete this section!

Originating Entities and Funding

Betri Reykjavik was designed and published by Gunnar Grímsson and Róbert Bjarnason. The platform was founded in 2010 and is based on two other projects founded by Grímsson and Bjarnason. The project is not-for-profit and non-partisan.

Participant Recruitment and Selection

The website is open to all but registration is required to submit proposals or vote. 

Methods and Tools Used

The Betri Reykjavik platform's initiatives are examples of online participatory budgeting and participatory planning. Both methods involve "a decision-making process through which citizens deliberate and negotiate over the distribution of public resources." There are many benefits associated with participatory budgeting and planning including increased civic and democratic education; increased government transparency; and an increased opportunity for participation by historically marginalized populations.[1

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

Citizens can register for Betri Reykjavik on a special website, using their electronic-ID which is also used for submitting their tax forms. Participation itself is simple. Once registered a member can freely post his or her ideas on improving communal life, which are then open to public discussion on the website. The voting system itself works somewhat like YouTube. One can either “like” or “dislike” proposed ideas of others, can add own suggestions and debate with other members about it.

Each month sixteen ideas, which have the most “likes”, are discussed by the City Council in special meetings. Projects are founded via a yearly budget. In 2012 the budget for communal projects coming from Betri Reykjavik were around 300 million ISK, which is roughly 1.6 million GBP. Accepted ideas together with the proposed budget are later on open for voting on Betri Reykjavik. 

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Past projects include the life improvement of the homeless during winter in 2011, and transforming the main commercial street in the city, the Laugavegur, to a pedestrian only zone in 2012.

Analysis and Lessons Learned

The innovation is a change to old modes of representative democracy, and gives citizens the chance to be heard and to actively take part in the city’s politics. Since its establishment Betri Reykjavik had 22.800 unique visitors and has now 2.900 active users. Betri Reykjavik so far has been a huge success and can be an example on how to enable citizens to actively participate in the 21st century.

 

Sources:

Rushton, S., (2013). Direct Democracy in Reykjavík: The wisdom of the Icelandic crowd-sources. [online] truth-out.org. Available from: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19200-direct-democracy-in-reykjavik-the-wisdom-of-the-icelandic-crowd-sourcers

Andersen, A., (2012). E-democracy takes off in Reykjavik. [online] The Reykjavik Grapevine. Available from: http://www.grapevine.is/Features/ReadArticle/e-democracy-takes-off-in-reykjavik

Reykjavíkurborg, (2012). The e-voting to create a better Reykjavik has started. [online] Reykjavíkurborg. Available from: http://eldri.reykjavik.is/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-4631/8023_read-30767

External Links

https://betrireykjavik.is/

Case Data

Location

Geolocation: 
Reykjavik
Iceland
64° 8' 7.2168" N, 21° 53' 42.756" W
IS

Purpose

What was the intended purpose?: 

History

Start Date: 
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
End Date: 
[no data entered]
Ongoing: 
Yes
Number of Meeting Days: 
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Participants

Targeted Participants (Demographics): 
Targeted Participants (Public Roles): 
Method of Recruitment: 

Process

Facilitation?: 
No
If yes, were they ...: 
[no data entered]
Facetoface, Online or Both: 
Online
Decision Method(s)?: 
Other: Decision Method: 
Up/Down Voting

Organizers

Who paid for the project or initiative?: 
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Type of Organizing Entity: 
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Who else supported the initiative? : 
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Types of Supporting Entities: 
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Resources

Total Budget: 
[no data entered]
Average Annual Budget: 
US$2 675 680.00
Number of Full-Time Staff: 
[no data entered]
Number of Part-Time Staff: 
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Staff Type: 
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Number of Volunteers: 
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Discussions

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