Participatory Budgeting Cologne 2008


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Participatory budgeting in Cologne

„The budget plan of Cologne for 2008 broke all records - never before had so many people in Germany (and maybe also in Europe) taken part in such kind of procedure.“ The moderation team of the city of Cologne offered a first summary of this so far worldwide biggest citizens' participation on a communal budget planning.

What is it about? The City of Cologne had decided to involve citizens more into the developments of the local budgeting: The budgeting has to be made more understandable and the dialogue between citizens, politics and Administration has to be improved. Therefore, it was obvious to suggest the use of an online dialogue platform, if one wants to reach as many citizens as possible.

The Fraunhofer Institute IAIS (Intelligent Analysis- and Information systems) was which was assigned by the City of Cologne to select the provider decided to work with Binary Objects as technical project partner. Between 22nd October to 19th November 2007, the website was visited 670.000 times and 4973 proposals and 9184 comments were given. The City Administration will sift through and evaluate the list of best ideas, which emerged out of the participation procedures and then pass them on to the relevant administrative offices. Then the proposals will go through budget consultation meetings and later will be submitted to the Council for decision-making. A final report will provide the information on the proposals accepted and the justification for the decisions.

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The technology behind:

Our discourse-machine was suitable for this task because of preceding projects: the Participatory budgeting in Hamburg 2007 and in Berlin/Lichtenberg (since 2005). Since the City of Cologne expected an enormous number of participants, the Framework was further improved and developed particularly to cope with the maximum stress of simultaneous user accesses. Special load tests of the Fraunhofer IAIS resulted in an optimation of both software and Server-Administration, which was carried out by the City of Cologne itself.


"I think this action and the possibility of an easy political participation is marvelous and informing the citizens about it is absolutely necessary. In this way one can express one's own opinion and feel like a responsible citizen."
(A discourse participant)
"Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the City Administration, Congratulations to your idea of asking the opinion of the citizens in this way. The large participation confirms the importance of your initiative."
(A discourse participant)
"Kudos to all, who initiated this participatory budgeting and who are working on it. I finally feel as a citizen, my opinion is sought after and I get the feeling I can contribute something - it is not only about making a check to let 'those up there' take caution. I'm hoping for a great response for the project and more development. That makes living in Cologne even MORE worthwhile for me."
(A discourse participant)

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