Infrastructure & Citizen Participation

Is it time?

It used to be the case that we elected people to govern us and then trusted them to get on with the job – while we got on with ours!  But the world is changing. For one thing, we are getting smarter!  According to the Flynn Effect, IQ scores are increasing by about 3% every decade.  We are also more educated and continue to learn.  In Australia, more graduate and more continue to study throughout life (especially women!). Access to digital technology also means that we can be more aware.

The upshot is that many are no longer prepared to let others make decisions for them.  They want to be more involved in decision making.  Sure,  smart phones can be used to report light outages and potholes, and individual data can be collected for community improvement. But is it enough?

According to the Economic Intelligence Unit in their report ‘Empowering Cities’. in a study of 12 cities around the world, the majority of citizens want to contribute to decision making – especially in healthcare, education, pollution reduction, environmental sustainability, and waste collection, treatment and recycling – but they don’t know how.

These are areas in which citizens – as users of the services – could have much to contribute. These are also areas in which infrastructure features heavily – and where, at the moment, the views of infrastructure providers prevail over the views of users.  Would greater citizen discussion of infrastructure issues lead to improved outcomes?

Talking Infrastructure believes so.  What do you think?

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