Vorarlberg is a federal state in Austria with a population of about 400,000. Public participation has a long history in Vorarlberg. In 2006, for example, the first citizens’ council in Europe was held in the municipality of Wolfurt. And Vorarlberg also played a pioneering role in Europe by anchoring “participatory democracy” in its own state constitution. More than 60 citizens’ councils have already been held in Vorarlberg – most of them involving the digital participation platform by CrowdInsights since 2016.
Through the platform vorarlberg.mitdenken.online, materials are collected throughout the entire process of a citizens’ council, interim results from workshops with various stakeholders are documented and the results are evaluated again at the end in the platform’s internal analysis tool. Also on the platform are the final findings, consisting of a list of usually around five to fifteen individual points. Each finding is linked back to the participants’ answers from the process. The summary report of the results refers to the digitally documented results and embeds them in an overall presentation of the process.
In addition to the documentation of analogue citizens’ councils, the Mitdenken platform is also used for hybrid (i.e. semi-digital) citizens’ councils and for pure online participation. The platform is available to all municipalities in Vorarlberg as well as to the provincial government for the implementation of participation projects. Since 2016, more than 30 projects have been carried out via the platform.
Thanks to the active use of the platform by the state and municipalities, vorarlberg.mitdenken.online now has almost 4,000 registered users (and rising), who can be addressed for new projects in a target group-specific manner.
On the part of the province, the platform vorarlberg.mitdenken.online.de is centrally managed by the staff of the Office for Voluntary Engagement and Participation (FEB). The FEB serves as a contact for citizens and municipalities in Vorarlberg in matters of participation and actively supports the planning, monitoring and evaluation of participation procedures.