Digital civic participation

The smart city of tomorrow is taking shape

The vision of the smart city is to integrate people, locations, technologies and data into the municipal administration infrastructure in order to meet the needs and improve the quality of life of the residents of the city. Civitas Digitalis, a fortiss project, is pursing precisely this goal: the development of new services that provide residents the opportunity to participate in the development of the city while improving the quality of life.

The Civitas Digitalis project resulted in the creation of numerous concepts and prototypes for digital and crowd-based service platforms in the area of civic participation. Two examples are the city of Kassel’s Weck den Herkules in dir (Wake your Inner Hercules) civic participation platform and the city of Hamburg’s Facilitbot chatbot system.  Weck den Herkules in dir supports civic creativity with an interactive drawing environment and offers the opportunity to submit ideas for the city in the form of short videos. Facilitbot is a digital assistant that supports civic participation in the development of city neighborhoods through intelligent questions and suggestions. Both projects involve the use of artificial intelligence technology.

Civitas Digitalis is a joint research project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) under the framework of the Smart Service Stadt: Dienstleistungsinnovationen für die Stadt von morgen program (Smart Services City: innovative services for the city of tomorrow). Fortiss was responsible for the technical design, the open source development and the pilot operation of the artifacts.  The two project partners – Hamburg University and Kassel University – prepared the technical designs while the cities of Hamburg and Kassel, who also participated in the projects, implemented and tested the solutions using civic participation processes.

A national transfer conference was held in Hamburg in the fall of 2019 at the conclusion of the research project. Under the title Bürgerbeteiligung online – offline – bürgernah (Civic Participation: Online, Offline, Citizen-centric), stakeholders from the municipal administration departments, service providers, IT companies and researchers gathered together to hold intense discussions regarding the results and their experiences with the digital civic participation service.

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