Case Study

e-Democracy & Participation

Share ideas & have a say in a changing world through technology.


  • Interviews
  • Survey
  • Personas
  • Customer Journey
  • Wireframes

At the end of 2011, I graduated on the topic of participation and co-creation in the public domain, an assignment in request of Stichting Toekomstbeeld der Techniek, a Think Tank in The Hague, The Netherlands. The design goal of this master thesis was to design a means to enable citizens to participate and co-create the public domain of 2030. Information and communication technologies facilitate new forms of collaboration between citizens and authority. Crowdsourcing methods enable authority to involve citizens more easily in their creation and decision-making processes concerning the public domain. Specially designed digital tools could enhance citizenship and enable co-creation between citizens and local authorities. The thesis resulted in such a tool - Love your City, an augmented reality platform that facilitates citizens as well as local authority to co-create and design the public domain according to their needs and wishes.

"Decreasing political participation, disinterest from young people, lack of inclusiveness in decision-making are reversible trends"

With the experience from my master thesis, I started collaborating with the Citizens Foundation, an Icelandic non profit organisation that is already working fifteen years on the topic of e-democracy. Together we are convinced that the decrease in political participation is largely the result of our political system failing to take stock of citizens’ expectations and needs and that this trend is reversible, with the correct measures. Representative democracy puts a strong emphasis on voting, often reducing participation to voting for your representatives every 3 to 6 years. We therefore need to include participative democracy as a core component of our political systems to renew democracy substantially. Decreasing political participation, disinterest from young people, lack of inclusiveness in decision-making are reversible trends. We believe that only by bringing together representative and participative democracy we can bring back citizens’ trust in the political system and build up sustainable democracies. A process in which technology has a big part to play.

The open source participation platform build by the Citizens Foundation - Your Priorities, helps people to share, debate and priorities ideas to encourage citizens to participate in governance. In 2016 we redesigned and rebuild the Your Priorities platform. In the prior version debate arguments for and against were stacked on top of each other, colouring the discussion in one or the other direction. The renewed user interface for the debate function is designed as two columns next to each other. Displaying the points for and against side to side in order to show both point of views and to stimulate people to formulate their own opinion instead of directly responding to a point of view of someone else.

Your Priorities debate user interface view
User Interface of the Your Priority debate view.

Building on the success of the Your Priorities e-democracy application, the Citizens Foundation is using Chest FP7 funding to develope Active Citizen to take civic participation to the next level: empowering citizens with their own artificial intelligence algorithms. Active Citizen meets the needs of modern lifestyle whilst replying to the current democratic challenges. To reduce the time spent and increase efficiency by providing citizens with the information they need to change their world in a meaningful and democratic way. Artificial intelligence algorithms can reduce participation friction by giving citizens notifications and relevant information when they need it. It can help citizens to serve their democratic interests online, notify them about opportunities to participate, help them research the issues at stake and connect people with similar ideas and priorities with each other.

"Notifications can be perceived as intruding or annoying. Variables i.e. the notification sender, content, tone of voice, frequency and timing are very important and have to fit the participation process of the target group"

Persona Active citizen that participates actively Persona Active citizen that participates more passively
Personas for the Chest Project - Notifications for Active Citizen.

Notifications however can also be perceived as intruding or annoying. Variables i.e. the notification sender, content, tone of voice, frequency and timing are very important and have to fit the participation process of the target group. We therefore conducted a large scale survey and a number of in depth user interviews concerning notifications and peoples’ participation processes. The results were visualised in the form of two personas, representing an active and a more passive user group. The customer journeys of both personas were visualised to map the type and frequency of the notification according to the touchpoints in their participation processes. Together these findings supplied insights to determine what notifications are needed and how they need to be designed and implemented.

Customer journey Active Citizen.
Customer Journey for the Chest Project - Notifications for Active Citizen..

Based on these results we visualised the wireframes for the notifications. The wireframes of eight notifications were designed for desktop, tablet and mobile interfaces. The first wireframes contain the notification design for the newsletter notifications, while the last three wireframes show the notification design of the in-app notifications. The wireframe designs of the notifications will inform the development of the notifications in the Your Priorities and the Active Citizen platform.

Active Citizen User Interface notification drawer
Wireframes for the Chest Project - Notifications for Active Citizen..

Currently the Dutch Government is investigating if the Your Priorities platform can be enrolled in several Municipalities in The Netherlands to actively stimulate participative democracy and prioritise ideas.

Publications & Related Work

  • Participation and Co-creation in the Public Domain.

    Stembert N. (2011) TUDelft Master Thesis Design for Interaction. ISBN 9789080961388.

  • Een Vandaag - Eindejaarsspecial: 'massa en de macht'.

    Avro Tros (31 December 2016) Nederlandse Publieke Omroep.

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Interested in catching up & share what you are working on? Please give me a shout!