Janecek method assists New York City for the third time

For the third time, our sister organisation D21 has been helping with preparation of a participatory budget in New York City. Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic process whereby community members directly decide how to spend an allocated portion of the public budget. D21 provided the complete technical solution for PB in 2016, 2017 as well as this year. Citizens voted on the winning projects, using a variant of the Democracy 21 method with no negative ballots. Citizens could allocate up to 5 positive ballots among the proposed projects. D21 was also involved in the successful digitisation of the whole process.

This year marks the seventh time that New York City has enabled its residents to decide how to use a part of the city's budget. In 2016, when D21 enabled digital voting for the first time, the city allocated $38 million to PB. 67,690 New York residents participated, 97 % of whom voted using paper ballots and 3 % digital voting.

In 2017, $39 million was distributed by a record number of 102,800 voters. 25 % of them used the digital app. This year, 99,252 New Yorkers were involved. A record-setting 30 % of them voted digitally and 70 % by paper ballot. This year, for the first time, it was possible to vote in interactive kiosks right in the city streets. PB in New York City has thus become the largest participatory project ever to take place in North America. New York is competing with the City of Paris for the world’s largest ever public involvement in participatory budgeting.

What did the Czech Startup Provide for the NYC Council?

  • in-person interviews with voters in the participative budget; consulting on ideas from neighbourhood forums
  • online feedback through the D21 platform; there was record feedback in Queens from 661 residents
  • development of a pre-registration application, where voters could sign up one week before the vote, receive a unique security PIN code, and then vote from their home computer or smartphone
  • 11 language versions of the platform
  • a new design of paper ballots that optimised the voting and counting process
  • the process of scanning paper ballots and their counting, which has increased PB security and allowed the City to post official results within a few days rather than weeks
  • D21 training materials for City Council staff and volunteers, online consulting, best practices for voting and troubleshooting procedures

Participatory Budgets Worldwide

Participatory budgeting is a popular practice in many city councils around the world. It is very popular in Portugal, for example. In the city of Cascais, more people take part in PB than in the local municipal elections. In Berlin, citizens voted on how to make the most of the public space of the former Tempelhof Airport. 8,300 citizens got involved and provided more than 350 proposals.

Participation is now booming in the Czech Republic as well. The record holder is the City of Brno, where 12,000 voters participated in participatory budgeting. PB has already been tried out by residents of the Ostrava-South district, several Prague districts and Chomutov. Other cities and villages are joining in every day. The town of Říčany is a good example of best practice of participation in the Czech Republic. There is a long-term programme of citizens' involvement in running the city. It is available online as Řídím Říčany (I’m running Říčany) with the cooperation of our sister organisation D21.

Read more: Participatory Budget in New York City - Case Study