Participatory Budgeting Network conference 2015 – tools for online participation

It was great to be at the PB (Participatory Budgeting) Network annual conference on Monday. There’s already a round-up of the day (including links to the various presentations that were given), plus you can always browse #PBNet2015 on Twitter if you want to get a sense of the event.

One particular thing that came up a few times, from several different people, was a question about practical ways to bring in more participatory processes. And, whilst there was lots of discussion of in-person methodologies on the day, we’ve got a couple of digital examples that might also be pertinent.

Dozens of government organisations around the world are already using these in various ways to try and increase public participation in budgetary/decision-making processes:

  • One is Budget Simulator (a spending/saving prioritisation process) – which people like EdinburghCalderdale and and Powys councils are using at the moment
  • The other’s Dialogue (which is actually one of the digital tools that Ali Stoddart presented in his session on the day). Bristol City Council used this for a participatory budgeting exercise back in 2010, Vattenfall managed a £1.8m community fund through it and the Ministry of Justice used it to seek public ideas for allocating a £500k support fund.

Just thought we’d quickly flag those up as a handful of real-world examples for anyone looking into practical tools for realising more citizen participation.

We really appreciated both the specific conversations and the general atmosphere at the PB Network conference – and hopefully there’ll be plenty more similar opportunities/events/conversations as interest in improving public participation continues to grow.