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Full Title 

Decentralised Citizen Engagement Technologies

Started on 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Francesca Bria, Nesta
Creating digital tools for network democracy and economic empowerment

D-CENT is working on digital tools participatory democracy for citizens, social movements, civic innovators and civil society groups. With our privacy aware and open source tools communities can share data, collaborate and organize their operations to promote direct democracy and economic empowerment.

D-CENT allows people to discuss and share content, engage in mass scale deliberation, collaborative policymaking, and voting. D-CENT is based on a distributed, federated and privacy-aware architecture. The modular platform will include open source tools for network democracy: large-scale deliberation, debates, voting, collaborative policy drafting, and collective filtering algorithms.

Besides the network democracy platform, the project explores how communities might manage trust, reputation and common goods with blockchain-based tools. D-CENT started in October 2013 and will run until May 2016.

Why is our project important? 

The 19th century institutions of democracy, such as Parliaments, elections, parties, manifestos democratic assemblies are in great need of revival since they are out of synchronization with the 21st century technologies, norms and collective aspirations.

Attempts to engage people in democratic decision-making using digital platforms are still in their early stages. Few existing platforms have been specifically designed to engage in Internet-scale democracy that goes beyond the limits of traditional corporate social media.

The D-CENTproject is bringing together leading European examples that have transformed democracy in the past years, and helping them in developing the next generation of open source, decentralised, and privacy-aware tools for network democracy.

D-CENT wants to provide a positive vision of collective intelligence in democracy in the XXI century. D-CENT is trying to change the decision-making processes and makes it easier for citizens and social movements to participate and change things. This means running experiments that help building new kind of political parties and institutions best suited to next generation democracy - open, experimental, and able to tap into collective intelligence of citizens.

Together with citizens and developers we are building open source tools and a social networking platform for large scale cooperation and decision-making. This is one of Europe’s biggest experiments in direct democracy, i.e. having people vote and make decisions directly instead of representatives doing this for them, and therefore we are thrilled to be awarding citizens with a bigger and more direct impact on decision-making. Both direct democracy and political empowerment give a chance to citizens to be more engaged in democratic decision-making.

Updated articles and interviews on DCENT website and Nesta DCENT webpage
See our videos here

What are our goals? 

  • To build tools and applications for direct democracy and economic empowerment together with the citizens and developers.
  • D-CENT will create an open, decentralised, and privacy-aware social networking platform for large-scale collaboration where people can share in real-time open data, democratic decision-making tools, and use a digital social currency (like Bitcoin) for the social good.
  • D-CENT will also grow longer-term alternatives to today’s highly centralised platforms and power structures.
  • D-CENT will promote large-scale adoption of open standards, free software, open data and open APIs
D-CENT principles  are:
  • community ownership of social data
  • security and privacy by design
  • open standards
  • access to knowledge and open source
  • mass scalability

View our presentation!
D-CENT in github

Initiatives, tools and services we have already launched 

  • Lean UX workshops with communities where we identified their needs for such tools and platforms (started in early 2014 and ongoing). The insights gathered were translated into the first D-CENT Minimal Viable Products for the D-CENT platform and they have been deployed later in Spain, Finland and Iceland.
    New tools for citizen participation, option generation, debate and deliberation!
  • DCENT DemocracyOS tests. Deployment in Spain with BarcelonaenComù during the municipal elections in 2015 to engage citizens in voting candidates and writing the political programme.and by Podemos to engage the members of their local circulos . The DemocracyOS-based prototype was also adopted in Finnish, and tested with the Helsinki Neighbourhoods Association HELKA, joining together 80 neighbourhood associations operating in Helsinki.
  • The piloting in Iceland focuses on improving and upgrading the online democracy software Your Priorities and utilizing it for D-CENT. The idea is to bring in new functionalities pointed out by users of the Better Reykjavík and Better Iceland websites.
  • Collaborative policy-making tool Objective deployed in June 2015 and tested in Spain and Finland. 
  • Open budgeting tool Better neighbourhoods deployed in Iceland: 
  • Blockchain technology integration Freecoin to manage community trust, reputation, and exchanges in a distributed system will be integrated as a service in the D-CENT platform.
  • Easily deployable OAuth server for distributed identity management for democratic organisations
  • Helsinki open-decision - making data pilot: Prototype Publish OpenAhjo most recent agenda items in Activity Streams 2.0 format
  • Through the W3C Social Web Working Group DCENT is contributing to define the technical standards and APIs to facilitate access to social functionality as part of the Open Web Platform. These include a common JSON-based syntax for social data, a client-side API, and a Web protocol for federating social information such as status updates
  • D-CENT publishes all of its code on GitHub here and https://github.com/d-cent
  • The research results are public, visit D-CENT website to view all the public deliverables and publications.

Latest published Research

  • D-CENT research has focused on new forms of democracy, citizen empowerment and participation. An integrated techno socio-economic analysis has been carried out of organisational models of emerging social movements, new economic models based on knowledge commons, distributed social networking, identity systems, new models for citizen control of personal and social data, privacy and security by design. In the development of a socio-technical framework on collective intelligence, IN3-UOC and Barcelona Media have analysed global network-movements, creating data-driven insights for D-CENT
  • To analyse and understand the ways in which it is possible for a decentralised and polycentric movement such as Spanish Barcelona en Comù to be voted at institutional level, D-CENT partners IN3 15M Data Analysis Group and Barcelona Media conducted a research 'When a Movement Becomes a Party: The 2015 Barcelona City Council Election'.
  • Identity Ecosystem Research: This report presents a concrete analysis of the latest evolution of the identity ecosystem in the big data context, focusing on the economic and social value of data and identity within the current digital economy. This report also outlines economic, policy, and technical alternatives to develop an identity ecosystem and management of data for the common good that respects citizens’ rights, privacy and data protection: 
  • Seminar proceedings of “Internet as common good or capture of collective intelligence” organised in collaboration with ISOC and Teatro Valle: 
  • Digital currency technical design document has been published. The blockchain technology to manage community trust, reputation, and exchanges in a distributed system will be integrated as a service in the D-CENT platform. 

Initiatives, tools and services we are still working on 

  • Building a secure notification provider
  • Building an API for Freecoin to demonstrate its use in integration with other D-CENT tools.
  • We started to work on the voting platform with Agoravoting, while assessing the needs in Spain after the local elections and towards national elections:  Agora voting will be integrated into the DCENT platform
  • Work on Objective 8 is going on. In Spain this has led to collaboration on the new democracy platform of the City of Madrid. After the municipal elections in Spain Labodemo (DCENT partner) became part of the new City Hall, leading their participation and open government strategy.  Here you can find the new tool: https://decide.madrid.es. We are now doing data analysis of the participation in this platform as part of WP2.
  • The D-CENT tools will be implemented as a modular federated platform across 3 communities in 3 countries. The process is ongoing and iterative. Integration of tools will be refined in the last months of the project. Podemos and Barcelona en comù (Spain), Citizen Foundation, Better Reykjavik, (Iceland) and Open ministry (Finland). D-CENT platform will people to discuss and share content, engage in mass scale deliberation, collaborative policymaking, and voting. D-CENT is based on a federated, open standards, privacy-aware architecture.
  • We are now designing a new product page with all DCENT tools and examples of democracies
  • We are in the process of commissioning a video for outreach and promotion

Who will benefit from our project? 

  • Citizens movements will be able to be better informed about issues that are being handled in the city councils, e.g. plan changes in your area. This way, when an important topic is on the policy Agenda, citizens are able to act upon it. On the D-CENT platform, citizens can form a group for a cause and influence decision-making and with the help of the D-CENT tools even dispersed online groups can work together on different letters, publications or petitions.
  • City councils will benefit from citizen participation as citizens are better aware of decision making processes and decisions that affects them and are better able to express their stance on different topics.
  • Developers, hackers and open source activists around Europe can get involved with an important cause, network and make new contacts in their field across Europe..
  • New political parties and democratic organisations (including Parliaments and Governments) can hear from their constituencies by using the tools provided by D-CENT (Your Priorities, Objective8, DemocracyOS), discuss, debate and deliberate on the D-CENT platform.

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