The Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) cities of Terrassa (Spain) and Ioannina (Greece) shared their digital platforms for citizen engagement and explained how they are using tech and online platforms to transform communities and SMEs, during the Tech4Good webinar on 12 October as part of the 19th edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities (EWRC). 

Once an idea to help cities use technology-powered services and solutions to advance economic, social and environmental causes, the Tech4Good Marketplace has now developed into live website that showcases over 60 local solutions from 24 countries. Some of the cities behind these solutions took to the stage to explain their innovative ideas.

Open Data Terrassa

Manel Guerra, Terrassa’s ICC representative, introduced the city’s platform Open Data Terrassa, an online portal where the public can freely read, download, reuse and redistribute data about the city council and the city as a whole. This information is presented in 136 datasets and 58 maps, and the platform offers a variety of search and categorisation methods to find the desired data. “We are trying to reuse public sector information,” Mr Guerra said. “We are not the owners of the information; we are the managers”.

The principles of efficiency, transparency and society guide the platform. Ease of access to the data drives the efficiency principle, whilst confidence is instilled into local governments through open transparency which can lead to social and economic benefits for the city.  The quality and stability of data is of paramount importance to the city and the information is updated regularly to ensure its accuracy. 

There is insufficient interest in the platform’s data alone, the public is more interested in the information that can come from the data which is why the platform is open to both internal and external users. The external users are seen as key players in serving as a guide for the future of the platform. These users are to be viewed as benchmarks fand their actions hope to inspire future innovations that will transform the platform.   So far, the data in the platform has been widely used, for example, journalists used datasets for investigations, and citizens and enterprises created apps using the data.  

Looking ahead, the city of Terrassa hopes to extend the platform to other cities but expressed the issue of federating with other cities, as well as the aspects of interoperability. Currently, the city shares its datasets with regional powers and would need support from higher powers to effectively expand the portal. The city will also consider asking citizens about what information they want and backtracking to see what kind of data would be useful.

Consultation Platform

Ioannina’s representative, Konstantinos Soulis, introduced Consultation Platform, which collects citizen’s feedback on City Council discussions. The platform has three stages of consultation: open (comments can be received), processing (comments are being processed) and complete (comments are summarised).  In total, nine consultations are included in the platform which has 121 registered users.

Some of the many benefits of the platform for the local ecosystem include the equal opportunity for participation and a sense of ownership on local decisions through contributing to the discussion. However, the project has faced a series of issues like the low numbers of users and consultations and low motivation in e-participation versus. participation in person that would need to be implemented before expanding the project. 

Nonetheless, the city is determined to establish an integrated communication strategy to expand upon its current efforts.  “We have to set strategic goals, and one of them should be to enhance this engagement and provide a feasible action plan and business objectives,” Mr Soulis said, he hopes that new ideas can be integrated into the existing platform to make this a reality.

Much like the hosts of the webinar, Leena Whittaker and Dana Eleftheriadou from DG GROW, European Commission, the ICC looks forward to seeing where each initiative will continue to go and that the plans for Tech4Good Marketplace are aligned with what the local communities are asking for.