My city budget

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My city budget: Feedback loop for offenerhaushalt.at

Vienna, Salzburg, Graz..., AustriaVienna, Austria
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Idea
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Citizens should be involved in the topic of public budgets. The aim of "my city budget" is to provide an online game where citizens can decide on how they would allocate the budget of their city. They then can compare their version with the actual city budget and get an idea of what that would mean.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

People living in a city would have a real feeling and understanding of their city budget?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The budget of a city is a very complex topic, but very relevant to the citizens. A first step is to a) disclose budget data on the web and b) provide interactive visualisations. Both is done in www.offenerhaushalt.at for ALL Austrian municipalities (more then 100 have decided to make the data and visualisations public). But even with the new forms of presentation of a city budget, it is still hard to ge a real feeling for the budget allocation.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

In an online game, people can put togehter their version of a budget for their city. They then can compare their version with the real budget of the city and see, what the differences are. The should also get feedback on what their cuts in some areas mean in real life (the city would have money to build 2 more stadiums, but would have to close down 2 hospitals...). When they are satisfied with their results, thei can "log in" their budget, share it in social media and discuss it with others. The cities can get a feeling on how their citizens would allocate the budgets.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

On www.offenerhaushalt.at the budgets of more than 100 Austrian cities are visualised. But user interaction is not possible, mainly because it cannot be the task of the platform to monitor discussions. But interactivity can be provided with an online game on how to allocate the tax income of a city. The visualisation "Where do 1000 EUR of the citie's taxes go" already shows a easier to understand version of a cities budget. But now the citizen can click on "Allocate my own budget!" and can change the allocation of the "vitual" 1000 Euros to the topic differently. When he is finished, he is presented wit the difference of his version to the actual version. He can then try to do it again or log it in as his version to share it with others.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Citizens geht a feel for budget allocation, the cannot only read the data, but play with it and share their ideas of an improved or changed budget with others. The city gets involved and educated citizens and gets suggestions for budgets created by citizens interactively. Not only citizen's but also civil servants, political parties or municipal council members can make use of the game. Therfore different scenarios of city budget cuts or boost in different areas can be "played".

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

As all municipalities in Austria can potentially use the system, chances are that understanding of citizen's in cities budgets improve as well as understanding of city's experts for the citizen's viewpoints increases. As participartory budgeting in Austria is not a topic picked up, the gamification approach can lead to a better cooperation and interaction between private and public sector.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The city of Salzburg is willing to enable a small version of an online game for their youth congress in June 2014. The enhancement of the plattform www.offenerhaushalt.at in general is secured by the implementing organisation KDZ (Centre for Public Administration Research). But in order to provide a generic game for all participating cities and their citizen's much more has to be taken into consideration and additional funding is needed.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

As far as we know, nobody else is addressing this problem. The Open Budgets Game http://formula-d.co.za/IBP/GAME/ is an e-learning game, but it is rather complex, has to be downloaded and does not creat a real city budget or compare the budgets to real city expenses.
Team

Founding Story

Getting spending data of cities on the web is a complex task. Not every city and municpality has the means to creat an open data portal and upload their spending data. Hence, all municipal spending data has been akquired from the Austrian Statistics office and made available online on www.offenerhaushalt.at User credentials have been sent to all mayors. They can see the visualzations of their budgets online and with two simple clicks disclose the data and visualsations in the internet.

Team

Bernhard Krabina - project lead, part time Clemens Hödl - public finance expert, part time Rudolf Titl - programmer, part time Markus Wallisch - programmer, part time Intended impact is reached, because the project is driven by KDZ - Centre for Public Administration Research
About You
Organization:
KDZ Centre for Public Administration Research
About You
First Name

Bernhard

Last Name

Krabina

About Your Organization
Organization Name

KDZ Centre for Public Administration Research

Organization Country

, Vienna

Country where this project is creating social impact

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Impact
Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)
Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?
Sustainability
Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

Approximately 75 words left (450 characters).

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Create an environment where people give feedback freely.

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

The gamification approach aims to get people interested in their city's budget. They can play with budget variations and decide whether they have come so far to "log it in" and post it in social media channels. Logged in budget variations are availabla for the financial experts of the city to see. They also can give feedback to the budget variants.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?

English.

2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?

Citizens should play with the budget of the city in order to
- get a feeling for amounts and topics of budgeting
- submit their ideas

Cities should be able to
- use the gamification approach in events or campaigns
- learn from the submitted budgets
- interact with people by commenting/rating the submitted budget proposals

What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

Creating broader awareness of issue/movement building

If other, please specify
What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)

Website.

If other, please specify
Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?

Citizens (or NGOs, companies...) can create their own version of a city's budget. When they are finished with a variant, they can restart or "log in" their "own budget" variant. Logged in variants can be shown to others, e. g. by distributing them in social media.

Logged in budgets can be seen/evaluated by the financial experts of the city administration. The city can use this e. g. in special events/campaings or give feedback permanentely. City experts learn, how citizen's see the budget and would change importance/wheighting of certain budget topics/assets.

Citizen's get feedback from the experts on their suggestions or can be awarded prizes.

What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?

Option to provide feedback anonymously

If other, please specify
What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

Confirmation of use of feedback

If other, please specify
How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

Other

If other, please specify

Everybody can do their version of the budget.

What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?

They understand that feedback is necessary

If other, please specify
How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

Reports on collected information

If other, please specify
How is feedback published/transparent?

On a website

If other, please specify
Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.

It's just an idea yet, but as participartory budgeting is a "non-topic" in Austria (due to lack of political will) the gamification approach uses in events or campaigns can become an alternative method.

If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?

Involve cities/municipalities in special campaings using the gamification approach.
Therefore the feature will probably not be available for every municipality by default, but they have to actively want and do this in order to ensure that they will give feedback.

What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

An “expert paradigm” where the perspectives on “non-experts” is not valued

If other, please specify
Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

No, but I can see myself using it as a resource

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?
What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?
What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?

Municipalities will actively have to opt-in for the gamification process, ensuring that they will provide feedback on the recieved budgets from the citizens.