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Citizen Engagement

Citizen engagement

Challenges/ Barriers facing


  • Imperfect or inaccurate data quality

Social & behavioural

  • Getting citizens engaged in issues they don’t know about
  • Age and (technical) knowledge of citizens
  • Engaging citizens for new technologies, especially digital solutions but also renewable energy production
  • Finding a common vocabulary – especially when different languages are utilised within a community – to make the topics understandable
  • Engaging financially vulnerable target groups

Competences & risks

  • Utilizing local knowledge
  • Vulnerable communities’ different priorities

Regulatory & juridical

  • Relationship between decision makers and residents/citizens
  • Strategic thinking of politicians locked in election circles (4 years approximately)


  • Missing single representing organisation causing you to have to tackle each tenant individually
  • Insufficiently taking into account citizens’ activities outside the project
  • Identifying good ways to approach all citizens
  • Obtaining sufficient tenant agreement
  • Diversity of target groups
  • Redundancy in participation processes


Incentives/ Policy recommendations/ Suggestions/ Best Practices

Policy recommendations

  • Living lab budget to be invested in other ways (Vienna)

How to engage

  • Visualise to make it understandable
  • Personalise to make it tangible
  • Tell stories to make it human
  • Ask the citizens how they want to engage
  • Incentivise to get buy in and participation from residents/citizens

Role of political culture

  • Pay attention to the relationship between decision makers and residents/citizens
  • Consider whether the strategic thinking of politicians is locked in election circles

Tools to be used

  • Social media
  • Start with engaging schools/students. If they like it, citizens will join too.
  • Work with apps
  • Organise engagement workshops and contest

User incentives, best practices & suggestions

  • Understand that citizen engagement is a long process
  • Define the budget and understand the costs and duration before your engagement process starts
  • Proof to citizens the relevance of the issues being discussed
  • Involve citizens in product design to give them recognition, empowerment and understanding on the product. Make use of co-creation to (re)design prototypes/solutions.
  • Gamification of the project (e.g. “beat the street” concept from Vienna)
  • Specify tailor-made actions for each target group
  • Involve local citizen engagement enterprises
  • Convince tenants about the improvement of quality of life resulting from the solution, e.g. by performing measurements
  • Engage with as many diverse stakeholder groups as possible. A representative can be assigned for each group.
  • Use presentations to give feedback to citizens and have technicians answering questions and solving problems
  • Work together with the replication manager to assist Follower Cities in implementing their solutions
  • Set-up central information sharing spots
  • Be visible in the street
  • Inform citizens about the outcomes the product will deliver
  • Don’t forget the product packaging (make it attractive)
  • Closer contact is better. For example, avoid huge numbers of participants in dissemination activities, since people will be more comfortable to ask questions in smaller groups
  • Use the living lab budget to plan a mobile pop-up truck/trailer in the project area
  • Understand the cultural differences in citizen engagement
  • Find trusted partners
  • Be prepared to change the initial idea, be flexible and allow citizens to take the lead
  • Make use of a circular methodology
  • Until a predefined increase in rent typically no tenant agreement is needed
  • Make use of the “traveling circus” concept


Plan for Implementation (Next Steps)

Next steps

  • Develop more citizen sensing sensors
  • Think about how and by who data can be used
  • Offer showcased product to community organisations
  • With other Lighthouse Cities, develop a common methodology to identify what is relevant to citizens
  • Continue working on the participation and engagement plan
  • When applicable, offer free use of product for a predefined time
  • Check the costs of using the listed recommendations
  • Present listed solutions and ideas to Follower Cities in order to open up their horizon on how to approach citizens
  • Increase competition between users
  • Target children to get other family members on board
  • Make use of mobile information sharing centres

How to upscale citizen engagement ?

  • Share lessons learnt
  • Understand the culture of decision making process
Lesson identified at: