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.

Civic Factory Fest

Civic Factory is an urban festival that took place in November 2016 in La Marina de València. For a month we prototyped the Civic Factory concept developed by CivicWise, which involved the activation of this building, former base of the America’s Cup Race.

A Civic Factory is understood as an intersectoral civic space for the common design of the city. Through different formats, based on Collective Intelligence and Civic Innovation, it promotes the generation of proposals with a positive impact on the city. From the Civic Factory, collaborative dynamics are promoted that lead the different agents that make up the city (institutions, private sector, academia, civil society, …) to share their resources, knowledge, skills and experience with the city to respond to the problems of the city.

In June 2017 Factoría Cívica won the Social Innovation Award of the City Council of Valencia. Since 2018 Factoría Cívica has been tested in different cities, among them Valencia en Colector. Internationally the different Civic Factories are grouped in the Civic Factory Network, driven by CivicWise.

Nou Servef

Nou Servef is a process for the re-definition of the Valencian Employment Service through the involvement of its entire ecosystem. It is a pedagogical process that focuses on experimenting spaces, tools and participatory methodologies that accommodate new dynamics within the entity. This approach allows the entity to generate new horizontal communication spaces, where to find specific improvement fields, work on them and implement them through the joint work of all the people close to the entity: internal staff, citizens, companies and collaborating entities.

NouServef won the NovaGob Excellence Award for the best Open Government initiative.
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Escola d’Innovació Cívica

EIC is a process of civic innovation that aims to build an inclusive and open space for meeting, collaboration and learning from which to undertake actions and multi-sectoral collective projects with impact on the neighborhoods of Valencia. EIC wants to build a space of opportunity from which to open relational capital of the city through the acceleration of collaboration between people and initiatives for the commons.

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.


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.

Mestura Puerto

Mestura is a public framework of municipality collaboration that provides the necessary conditions for the development and community strengthening of Puerto del Rosario (Fuerteventura) through 4 key areas: (1) the empowerment of communities, (2) the promotion and accompaniment of community projects, (3) the activation of a network of public infrastructures as spaces for social, urban and rural transformation and (4) the creation of mechanisms for sharing resources. These 4 areas make up the “Mestura Ecosystem”.

The creation of this Ecosystem has 5 purposes or strategic lines:

  • Create a common work infrastructure, digital and face-to-face, to provide citizens with tools for social and urban transformation.
  • Promote networking of local communities to generate participatory culture, entrepreneurship networks and mutual support in the municipality of Puerto del Rosario.
  • Encourage the collaborative construction of the territory to generate roots and a sense of belonging.
  • Strengthen the public-social relationship to facilitate self-management and autonomy of the associative fabric and the ecosystem of active agents in the municipality.
  • Develop public innovation actions to involve the administration in the social transformation of the island territory.

How Mestura helps you: GET TO KNOW the map of community initiatives to find out who is working on topics and projects of your interest and where to find them. CONNECT with your neighbors in the neighborhood centers or through different forums of communication and debate. ORGANIZE or attend in-person or digital events and activities through the common agenda. COLLABORATES with other people to promote initiatives or achieve common goals. LEVERAGE and exchange resources and knowledge with the Mestura community to accelerate your community projects.

A context where we learn to organize ourselves collectively to help each other, take care of each other and have greater capacity for action and decision on our environment.

Atelier da Rua

Dialogue, think, design and build together our streets

To contribute to an open and accessible culture of urban design, to valorize the dialogue and the mix of competences and actors, to trigger more humanized and valorised public places.

Atelier Da Rua proposes a urban design methodology towards a more participated city, linking local, global, traditional and innovative resources around urban / social / and civic design.

This method works as a toolkit to contribute among communities to raise awareness, empowerment and engagement of public and private actors along the different phases of a urban design process.

Atelier Da Rua proposes the co-development of an open database promoting communication between actors across the different local projects. This open-catalogue aims to be an available working tool for all actors dealing with urban design and urban intervention.

Atelier da Rua answering to local needs contributes to projects of public space valorization applying to the different local case studies the following methodology:

phase 1 – participated sketch – to experience a participated process on urban design promoting strong contact between actors and the production of urban design synthetic documentation made by the “@R facilitator boards – phase 1”

phase 2 – participated project – to encourage the analysis and development of phase 1 proposals based on a collective decision about the project principles to develop together. this phase also includes the production of “@R facilitator boards – phase 2”

phase 3 – participated working site – to help the implementation on the ground of each project, following the project during the construction phase and implementing whenever possible an active participation of the envolved stakeholders. this phase also includes the production of “@R facilitator boards – phase 3”

The implementation of the methodology of Atelier da Rua establishes the production of architectural and urban design linked to a bottom-up and top-down glocal process. And we believe that this way of work can help to generate efficient citizen centered public spaces, enabling the public awareness and confidence on the decisions, generating sense of belonging and triggering investment on the public space.

How is your street ? Let’s change it?


Sottaninrete is a participatory process of urban and social regeneration which aims to reactivate “sottani”, abandoned basements – former warehouses, cellars, workshops – in the historic center of Altamura (Puglia Region, Italy).

Sottani can be seen as a network of distributed urban commons that belong to past uses, but that lends well to welcome new forms of entrepreneurship. They can return to play a role of social cohesion in the perspective of sharing economy.

The first phase of the process was characterized by a collaborative mapping of abandoned spaces, through the web platform

After having identified spaces, were defined different tools for reactivation: an open-source wooden kit, named KitUp, and a set of documents such as manifesto-regulation-toolkit, still in progress. In the third phase it has been developed a pilot project, was conducted a complementary project of social storytelling named StaffettArtigiana, which involved the community of craftsmen and created the first digital archive-map of stories about the craftsmen of the city.The goal is the reactivation of abandoned spaces through the involvement of inhabitants and craftsmen. The strategy includes a series of micro-urban tactics, implemented through the use of mobile devices, able to trigger economic and cultural initiatives through temporary reuse. With the completion of the manifesto-regulation tool is expected an agreement with the Public Administration to stabilize and facilitate such practices.