Roundtable “Citizen Synapses”

In Madrid, several initiatives and institutional projects are being carried out with the aim of developing citizen participation. This activity is produced in each case with different resources and approaches, producing theoretical reflection and heterogeneous learning, which at the moment is perceived as dispersed.

The Madrid circle of CivicWise works in the connection of actors and the fixing of ideas and concepts; in thinking and developing tools that enable these connections, “synapses”, with a dual purpose: reflection and dissemination.

A space for debate-conversation is organized for this occasion around the Technologies of Participation, that is, the set of dynamics, methodologies and tools of participation that are able to involve the digital space as well as the physical and the territory.

The main question we ask ourselves is: How can we localize and link with the territory the digital participation?

We connect for this purpose the initiatives of: Decide Madrid (Pablo Soto), Experimenta Distrito (Lorena Ruiz), Coctell-Mesa Territorio (Raquel Congosto) and Residencia Hacker (Pascual Pérez and Luís G.Sanz).




The experiential educational program Colegio Miguel de Cervantes of Brazil is a program of urbanism and youth social entrepreneurship for adolescents from 13 to 15 years old promoted by AIPC Pandora.

Program Description

During the walks, students learned to see and understand cities from the concept of “Smart Cities”, experimenting with an approach in which the city adapts to people and not the other way around.

They visited different projects and carried out small urban intervention actions, getting to know the city from another point of view. Madrid is a reference city in this type of initiatives, the context of the last decade of economic crisis and youth unemployment really mobilized young people, who from their neighborhoods launched many community projects that have transformed in many aspects the city of Madrid, providing services that the administration stopped providing, generating participation and improving coexistence. Part of the activities of this program were developed in Impact Hub, a reference center for innovation and social entrepreneurship in Madrid.

The program was structured in 5 mornings in which young people were introduced to social entrepreneurship methodologies that were linked to the recognition of public spaces as an intelligent space according to the needs of citizens. The different projects that served as inspiration to create proposals were presented in a clear and dynamic way, which were presented at the end of this phase and will be discussed in groups.

In collaboration with: Pez Estudio, Punto Jes

Research “La Participación”

Editorial project called “La Participación”. An open research process to think and reflect on citizen participation. What are the tools that build it? what new roles are needed? what are its methodologies? We don’t know, that’s why we invite you to build it together. It is an open debate, what we do know for sure is that participation is learned by participating.

Glocal Camp Editions

The annual and itinerant meeting CivicWise community use to meet and work together for a few days.

Begining in may 2016 in Paris, CivicWise community had developed six editions of Glocal Camp:

1st Paris, France
2nd Valencia, Spain
3rd L’Hospitalet, Spain
4th Canary Island, Spain
5th Modena, Italy
6th Ariège, France / Madrid, Spain (Online Edition)

Gallery of pictures from past events

Residencia Hacker

A project coordinated by CivicWise in late 2016 and launched by ParticipaLAB, the Collective Intelligence for Democracy Lab at MediaLab-Prado (Madrid), with the aim of researching and developing new ideas on participation and citizen innovation.

Members of CivicWise have tried to shed some light on the implementation of the participatory proposals of Decide Madrid, a digital participation platform set in motion and developed by the Department of Citizen Participation, Transparency and Open Government of Madrid City Council within the framework of the city’s first Participatory Budget process carried out in 2016.

Participation Technologies

We have outlined the results of our experience at the Hacker Residency in the publication Participation Technologies, which consists of two documents: the first gives information on the origin of the residency, the work method employed by CivicWise and the theoretical development thereof, while the second elaborates in detail on our proposal, which is based on: (i) improvement and redesign of the Decide Madrid interface for digital community construction and proposal tracking; and (ii) implementation of proposals by means of what we call ‘Urban Prototypes’.

Well aware of the complexity of the topic we needed to tackle, we began to reflect alongside citizens and public experts on the key concepts that defined the relevant problems: participation and technology.

Technology, defined as language, must provide solutions not only for digital contexts but also for those that involve a physical presence, and participation is no longer construed as the opportunity for us to interact but as a commitment to doing so and being able to do so at various levels.

Proposal for a new interface for the Decide Madrid platform. The picture shows the interface for the citizen spaces network

Both concepts must come together to give rise to broader processes that promote and facilitate construction of a collaborative fabric in our cities, with the ‘whos’, the ‘whys’, the ‘hows’ and the ‘whens’ clarified for each stage of every participation exercise.

In this manner, we reflect in the project on the construction of links between participation generated in digital spaces and the areas in which an impact is desired. In our view, it is of crucial importance to care for existing social fabrics, to strengthen communities and to make use of accumulated know-how. To this end, we need to build models under which we inhabit the digital space, but starting out from the physical space rather than vice versa.

In short, we are speaking of collective contextual intelligence dynamics. In this way, we pave the way to ’emerging citizenship’, wherein citizens can develop mechanisms of transformation and management that go beyond the old structures based on representation, achieving greater effectiveness, openness and transparency: communities that know how to care for their territory, beginning with local relationships, for the people and for the common good, outside the margins of the usual partisanship.

Decide Madrid, Participatory Budget and Life Cycle of Proposals

But what can we do with proposals that have already been approved? How can we continue the participatory process that has already begun? Can we involve citizens in implementation and in direct transformation of the city? CivicWise proposes:

-New phases in the participatory budget process that continue the process already initiated, extending it to encompass implementation and tracking of proposals in collaboration with citizens.

-Implementation of proposals by means of ‘Urban Prototypes’, initial models or prototypes on which features of the final version to be instituted can be tested out with users. The idea of a prototype is highly compatible with the process of collaborative design, in which we collectively plan an urban project.

Urban Prototypes, Spaces for Collective Experimentation and Dialogue

We believe that this would be an extremely important phase, firstly because of the ability to visualise the impact of the process; secondly due to the educational value we believe lies in learning city-making by doing; and, finally, due to the symbolic power potentially entailed by the fact that actions like these are replacing the already well-known and institutional ‘cornerstone’ processes. The #prototype helps us to test, but above all to collectively imagine and engage in dialogue. Transforming the city by transforming people.

Without further ado, we leave you here the two documents (1) “Previous work and theoretical framework” / (2) “Technical description“, as well as all of the information on the development of the project on the Hacker Residency website.

Civic Practices

Civic Practices Book is the first CivicWise book and it brings together 90 contributions from 16 countries and 40 cities. The book is organized in four sections: spaces, actions or projects, methodologies and research.

Civic Practices have always existed. The most primitive forms of urbanization emerged from self-organised communities to address their needs. Civic Practices are not new, but new opportunities are emerging in this context of post-2008 Global Financial Crisis. The aim of this book is to contribute to compiling initiatives, claims, campaigns, actions, projects, pieces of research, methodologies, participatory and co-design processes that are happening all over the world to create communities of practice, of Civic Practices.

The content of the book is multi-lingual. In order to make this publication as inclusive as possible, each author or group of authors has written in its own language. The preface and introduction are written in English.


Civímetro is a guide for evaluation of civic labs.

Civímetro proposes a system adaptable to the context of each initiative but based on a methodological framework of reference that allows evaluations from different initiatives to be compared and, as such, to extract knowledge and share what is learned.

It has a seven-step evaluation plan to guide civic innovation initiatives throughout the entire process: from defining objectives and indicators to their measurement and drawing conclusions.

Why evaluate civic labs?

  • Because they are places that are aimed at empowering and offering autonomy to citizens.
  • Because they enable people and communities in a local context to be an active part of public policy processes through shared learning and open knowledge.
  • Because they are places where it is important to give visibility to the way things are done and the processes that determine reaching objectives.
  • Because they propose dynamics for collaboration and collective intelligence that are essential to living together in contemporary society.

Why Civímetro?

  • Because we need to give visibility to the changes that civic innovation produces in citizens and the territory.
  • Because we need to understand what makes the creation of civic experimentation processes possible in order to improve and activate them more effectively.
  • Because evaluation makes accountability possible, which should be incorporated as an essential phase of public policy.
  • Because it builds bridges between the network of civic labs to share learning.