Year in review
Discover the impact
we created together in 2023
Wietse Van Ransbeeck
CEO & Co-Founder
A reflection on 2023
2023 was a year of democratic innovation, both for our product and across the cities we work with around the world.
We had one of our biggest product development years since launching back in 2016.
With 23 very intentional product feature releases in 2023, I am prouder than ever of the robust community engagement platform that we offer.
We focused heavily on delivering on our promise to support inclusive and representative engagement, building more flexibility into our offering with new features such as a Flexible Input Form (for more customized idea crowdsourcing) and embracing a shift from a digital solution to one that blends offline and online with features like Form Sync (which enables bringing input from paper forms for surveys and ideation projects to the digital platform via easy scanning).
Participation is only as helpful and useful as it has an impact on decisions and policies, and while there is still progress to be made in the GovTech sector, CitizenLab’s team took big steps. In 2023, we introduced new features such as our Report Builder and a generative AI assistant to help get to insights faster and make reporting easier. In previous years, our focus with AI was mainly on grouping and summarizing data. 2023 marked an exciting shift towards more human-centric developments to verify statements so that public servants eager to harness AI’s capabilities can do so while still retaining control with ethical use.
As our technology evolves, I’m especially excited about the impact it can have by helping to bring community participation to the forefront as a holistic value-add for decision-makers, rather than a one-off or project-based tactic. With the features we released, I feel that we are now at the point where we can focus more on influencing how those ingredients are used.
For instance, we closely partnered with our client, the City of Copenhagen, to implement our Proposals feature, which enables bottom-up engagement. Not only was this feature implemented, their political leadership actually pioneered using bottom-up engagement as a launch strategy to build community and encourage ambitious levels of diverse engagement - they hope to reach up to 20,000 residents through this initiative within the first year and a half.
In addition to supporting current clients’ innovative engagement initiatives, we also grew our network and welcomed our 500th client, Montgomery County (USA)
It’s exciting to see the participatory movement and network around us continue to grow, and in the coming years, we hope to deliver on and further grow how community engagement impacts decisions.
It's fair to say we’ve learned a lot in 2023, and the potential for 2024 to be a transformational year for global democracy is high. I believe that by sharing our experiences and learnings, we can collectively contribute to shaping a more vibrant and inclusive future for global democracy. Join us in this reflective exploration and be a part of the movement toward more meaningful participation.
Helping governments center community expertise
In 2023, we saw a shift towards more participatory processes and giving residents genuine influence on decision-making really establish itself firmly around the world. From an uptick in citizens’ assemblies to embracing new technologies for community engagement, governments signaled their readiness to center community expertise in their decision-making.
Globally, citizen assemblies have been instrumental in offering advice on highly crucial matters like assisted dying. Similarly, at the community level, there has been a growing trend of municipalities tapping into the knowledge of local residents to resolve intricate and long-standing challenges.
In a nod toward reaching more people by meeting them where they are and increasing the inclusivity of their consultations, one-third of processes organized in 2022 and 2023 were hybrid (online and in-person deliberation) (source).
The appetite for participation, both on the part of communities and local governments, continued to grow in 2023. In fact, People Powered’s ranking featured no less than 55 engagement tools, with ours ranking in the 2nd place.
In December, the European Commission issued recommendations for greater citizen and civil society participation in public policy-making across EU member states and all levels of government.
2023 in numbers
number of countries we worked in
number of projects launched across platforms in 2023
number of projects completed across platforms in 2023
average number of public servants using the platform monthly
average number of monthly community member users across our platforms