The Citizens Foundation was recognised for developing and promoting tools for citizen democracy worldwide at the eDemocracy Awards 2011 held in Paris on the occasion of the two-day World e-Gov Forum (12-13 October 2011). The non-profit organisation serves as a neutral entity whose main objective is to foster collaboration between people and their politicians. All the software it creates is released as open source which anybody can use for free.
'Shadow Parliament' and 'Better Reykjavik' are two successful online platforms developed by the foundation to encourage dialogue and debate amongst Iceland's citizens and their political representatives.
'Shadow Parliament' (also known as 'Better Iceland') gives voters the opportunity to better interact with members of parliament and to raise issues deemed as priorities. The website:
- imports all law proposals and most other documents from the Parliament (AlÃ¾ingi, in Icelandic) website;
- allows users to endorse or oppose any proposal and add their own talking points to those;
- permits users to view every Parliamentary speech as an individual video file, facilitating easy sharing with popular social networking sites;
- enables users to add their own proposals.
'Better Reykjavik' serves as an electronic gateway to the city of Reykjavik's administration, connecting citizens to politicians and giving voters a direct influence on decision-making processes. The best ideas are processed by the administration. It is currently available in English, French, German and Icelandic.
Citizens Foundation founders Gunnar Grimsson and Robert Bjarnason took part in the online drafting of a new Icelandic constitution, as did most citizens.
Mr Grimsson said: "We sincerely hope that the open active democracy platforms we developed, our own experiences and not least the lessons learned from Iceland's history will contribute to further improve transparency and democracy around the world."
"It is our sincere belief that the kind of software we developed can make a difference where people really want to debate, prioritise or discuss ideas that contribute to a better democracy," added Mr Bjarnason.
It is worth noting that the World e-Gov Forum awarded its overall Grand Prix 2011 to Lina Ben Mhenni, the Tunisian Internet activist, blogger and university teacher who became one of the inspirations of the revolution in Tunisia with her blog 'A Tunisian Girl'.
The other winners of the eDemocracy awards are:
- French Award: Caen-la-Mer region, for its 'Geemik' initiative - Geemik is designed to boost the presence of the Caen-la-mer region on the web and to familiarise its inhabitants with the NFC (Near Field Communication) technology. Through online games, citizens are associated to the digital projects of the region, which was selected as a leading territory for the NFC.
- International Award: Personal Democracy Forum (PdF), an annual conference and community website founded by Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry about the intersection of politics and technology. PdF has become a reference for all those who are interested in the way the Internet changes politics and governance. An associated website, TechPresident.com, covers how the US presidential candidates are using the web, and how content generated by voters is affecting the campaign.
- Official press release - EurActiv
- Related news article - World e-Democracy Awards
- eDemocracy Awards 2011
- Background information - ePractice eGovernment Factsheet for Iceland