Engaging citizens in public decision-making

The Self-Social Mapping tool is a digital platform designed to bolster participatory processes concerning a broad spectrum of territorial issues associated with the European Green Deal. It empowers citizens to articulate their opinions, share their knowledge, and catalyse the formation of community networks centred around specific issues.

The generated knowledge aims to support the initial phases of a participatory process and enhance public discourse. The ultimate objective is constructing a comprehensive, bottom-up narrative of the territories, fostering self-learning processes among citizens and facilitating interactions between citizens and institutions.

What are its key features?

The tool comprises a digital platform with two distinct features: a “deep map” and a “networking map”. The primary functionality is housed within the deep map section, allowing users to visualise a map of a specific geographical area displaying content uploaded by users, such as texts, pictures, or videos. The information is organised into two layers—one for strengths and another for criticalities—depicting where users have identified positive or negative features of the area.

The second feature is activated by a facilitator after data has been uploaded and an in-person meeting has been conducted to identify territorial issues. Depending on the selected topic, a different set of elements will populate the map, and users can choose to subscribe to a mailing list related to a specific issue, receiving updates about it.

What can it be used for?

This publicly accessible digital platform serves as a tool for generating local knowledge and engaging with local citizens, particularly in participatory processes aimed at guiding territorial development towards sustainability. Leveraging active user participation, the uploaded content becomes a basis for discussion in events such as public debates or participatory budgeting. Specifically, it helps illuminate citizens’ values and desires, ultimately enhancing the inclusiveness of a process and the quality of discussions.

Furthermore, the platform plays a crucial role in channeling citizens’ interest toward local topics and fostering bottom-up actions aligned with the process’s objectives. While the first function holds significant potential, especially during the initial phases of the process, the second function proves valuable in supporting the final phases when courses of action related to the participatory process have already been identified.

Who can benefit from it?

The primary beneficiaries of this tool are both citizens and institutions. On one hand, residents can benefit from the opportunity to share their knowledge, enhance the decision-making process, and connect with others interested in caring for their territory. On the other hand, public institutions can utilize the platform to foster more inclusive discussions and promote bottom-up practices aimed at addressing a variety of territorial issues.

It is essential to note that, despite being primarily digital, the tool is designed as a step-by-step process characterized by in-person moments. These moments include presenting the platform, providing support for those facing difficulties in accessing the digital platform, and discussing the results.

How has it been used by PHOENIX?

In each pilot territory, the final decision on whether and how to utilize the tool will be determined based on the specific co-design process in progress.

Contact our partner to learn more!

For more information about this tool please contact
The University of Florence.

Dr. Andrea Testi andrea.testi@unifi.it
Dr. Cassandra Fontana cassandra.fontana@unifi.it