SOM 18 > Practical uses of Decidim in the Covid-19 crisis
(Watch the streaming ☝️ or listen to it on Ràdio Decidim)
We invite the entire MetaDecidim community to participate in the first telematic SOM!
In this SOM we will learn about new Decidim instances that have arisen around the convid-19 health crisis. Based on these experiences, we will discuss how we can improve Decidim to adapt to the new context and the growing demand for digital participation.
The current confinement situation, caused by the health emergency of COVID-19, implies that the social and work life of people depends largely on social networks and new technologies. This unusual situation has forced us to adapt, changing the ways and the means to make decisions, debate or make conferences. In this meeting we want to discuss how we can respond, from Decidim, to this new reality, which conditions the present moment and will mark the nearest future.
- Union Nurses of Catalonia
- Hackovid, The people’s hackathon for facing the lockdown
- From Home (Barcelona) + Lockdown Memories
- Le Jour d'après (France)
After the presentation of each experience and following a round of questions, we will organize ourselves around the following working groups
- Possible tool improvements https://meet.jit.si/DEBATE.1SOM
- How Decidim can increase democracy at a time like this https://meet.jit.si/DEBATE.2SOM
- Requirements for digital tools to contain the virus (e.g. Chaos Computer Club) - This debate has been cancelled because it was too few people.
- Digital citizen self-organization and institutional management of the crisis through digital tools https://meet.jit.si/DEBATE.4SOM
How it works:
The presentations of each instance will be streamed on Youtube.
- Q&A: Questions to speakers will be left as comments on this page. To comment, you must be registered at Metadecidim. The time for questions and answers will be limited, so the most voted ones will be prioritized.
- Working groups: Once the presentations and the Q&A are finished, the working groups will start in Jitsi rooms. You can find the links to each room in the list above.
GROUP 1: Possible improvements of the tool
Decidim was designed as a platform that combined virtual and face-to-face meetings. The confinement due to the COVID-19 has completely eliminated the face-to-face part and it is time to rethink the tool so that it can be adapted to the new reality.
Two major issues to think about in this matter:
- Online meetings (videoconferences): rethink the rules of operation, such as integrating teleconference tools. How to make them useful for events with a large number of participants.
- Telematic voting: to implement a system of telematic voting in a secure way, to work on the potentialities that have the telematic voting to complement the virtual meetings, which can contribute to the agility of the decision making, solving topics that help to generate more effective dynamics.
Technical objectives to be solved:
- To incorporate some tool that helps to manage videoconferences with moderation guarantees. The Jitsi tool is proposed to incorporate the telematic meetings of the Decidim. Although it is also proposed to value other tools as for example Zoom that offer better benefits at the time of having some control tools that guarantee to make the moderation of the debates with more guarantees of security and privacy.
- To incorporate collaborative tools that allow, for example, to collect proposals in workshops.
- The collaborative notes manager will be incorporated to increase the range of tools available to the meetings.
- Work on a legal text to guarantee the management of the image rights of the people who join the videoconferences.
- Work on a cryptographic project that will be available within approximately one year that will allow for guaranteed voting.
- Work on tools that allow proposals to be incorporated in a more massive way by importing external documents to the platform in order to manage them better.
GROUP 2: How Decidim can increase democracy
Participants: 9 people
Moderation and reporting: Antonio
Elements for analysis
The current moment, shaped by the pandemic, is defined by several key elements:
- The shock of Covid-19 which through physical confinement and the imposition of social distancing causes a sense of isolation, has a psychological impact and causes fear of contagion.
- The economic shock linked to the Covid-19 shock that implies a fall in economic activity, an increase in poverty, inequalities, unemployment, etc., which generates a certain distrust with respect to the future and our own vital responsibilities.
- A third element is the crisis of representation and the growing mistrust of politics.
- A fourth key element in response to this situation is digitalisation.
Faced with these different shocks, these different crises, there are different responses such as mutual aid from neighbourhood networks, from makers who produce masks, from discussions by researchers trying to move forward to try to find solutions. In the face of this mutual aid there are also examples of mutual surveillance.
Digitalisation and the digital as a new social ground allows us to work at a distance, to get closer to our loved ones at a distance and even to hold events at a distance.
The model of digitalisation used by Decidim consists of a digitalisation that does not work from surveillance or from extractive data models but from a model of democratic digitalisation, from the attempt to guarantee digital rights and the exercise of democracy in this new context. Decidim can help against authoritarian or security drifts of the state itself to democratize public institutions, and not only public ones, but also different social spheres such as economy, culture, etc.
Decidim uses a digitalization focused on the response that certain corporations can give to our daily problems that often mean a series of risks that threaten our rights. As a technological project, it provides a digital infrastructure that within a context like the current one can favour projects.
Decidim has a few years of experience in which it has been evolving and has the capacity to adapt quickly to give an answer as an association, as a collective, as a democratic potential that projects a certain technology and vision of society.
Decidim can be a friendly and close platform that allows us to create an agora without forgetting the gaps that make not everyone can easily access.
Digital generates a gap, but also new possibilities and breaks other gaps that often occur in society and that have to do, for example, with the availability of time or being able to move to a certain space to participate.
One of the great challenges of the administration is to be able to reach all citizens so that they all have the same right to be able to participate in any participation process that is alive in the city.
We are currently working to ensure that Decidim reaches all citizens and helps to reduce the digital divide. We are in contact with the libraries to install some points where the citizens, who do not have technology at home, or do not know how the platform works, can go to libraries, civic centres, Barcelona Activa, etc.
It allows the weaving of alliances, both technological and in the development of the platform's governance, as well as the creation of narratives around the groups and the projection of participatory democracy to the outside world.
Decidim helps citizens to feel accompanied and active in their community. It helps them to be able to intervene in decisions and to empower themselves and feel that they can achieve things, to feel that they are not forgotten in their homes.
Decidim can be a tool that helps communities, such as work, consumer or other cooperatives, to organize their political participation. The jump from the presential to the digital can work to improve this participation, to be able to organize as a community and make the jump to political participation at a local level or to the administration.
Participatory processes have the function of bringing together and diluting the distance and disaffection of citizens with respect to institutions, with respect to the political system and to satisfy as much as possible the collective desires through a series of results in a participatory process.
- To build a more global story in cooperation with other instances or entities.
- This capacity to respond to specific needs and vice versa must be further enhanced. The moment is asking us to be very proactive. Within the platform, we can continue to expand in order to make the most of this time of confinement to establish practices of deliberation and participation that can remain afterwards.
- We should build a lobby for the democratization of societies through Decidim and not only through Decidim that will influence the deepening of democracy and the redefinition of a democracy
- Solutions must be provided to the issue of the digital divide and that people who are not yet participating in these spaces because of the digital divide in access, skills and quality of use, can do so.
- We must try to generate new ways of relating to each other that respond to this moment of exceptionality.
- It should be known from the institute and training should be given to young people so that they can get to know it.
- Decidim should be able to validate certain instances that exist and that would allow a network of validations of instances that exist and would allow this jump from one to another, improving this network.
- In the centres for older people there should be instances of easy use so that all these people who do not have technological capacities can easily participate.
- Promote Decidim and digitalization in the new post-pandemic context in which what is present is limited in order to break the gap in citizen participation.
- The participation has to be about an object that has importance for the citizenship and that, in some way, is binding. That the fact of participating really has the capacity to transform.
- Utility maximization: use an algorithm that allows the selection of the most voted proposals based on a budget, so that the money is distributed among more projects.
- In the next SOMs, besides being presential, it is also possible to participate telematically.
- Trying to generate and increase our practices to increase our democratic capacity to integrate more people and break a gap, in this case the physical gap that, if it cannot be filled, at least it can be mitigated with the digital space.
GROUP 3: Citizens' digital self-organisation and institutional crisis management through digital tools
Participants: 13 people
Moderation and reporting: Elisenda
During this crisis, citizens have organized themselves through neighborhood care networks or still smaller units. These are community networks that have responded to the most urgent needs in a faster and more effective way than the administration, promoting values such as solidarity, closeness, neighborhood and mutual aid and care.
These networks have been organized, above all, through Whatsapp and Facebook, including racialized groups and people who we guess do not access or use the Decidim normally.
The access to the Decidim, to self-organize these care networks, can be difficult for several reasons: not all the neighbors have a computer (yes a mobile phone), the social networks offer a great speed and allow a more personal relationship. It is also understood that using Decidim requires a considerable digital capacity that not all people have.
On the other hand, there are different cases of recent success of Decidim that must be valued and known in order to exchange experiences and improve the way we use it. At the end of the report, several links are attached to these good experiences.
The crisis has highlighted our most urgent digital needs:
- Internet connection as a citizen's right
- The need for schools to adapt to digital
- The need to increase the digital skills of disadvantaged groups
- Need to articulate debates on the future of society through digital tools
- Need for digital community self-organization
- It can be considered that all participation can be done entirely online if the technology is adapted to the real needs of the citizens.
Perhaps Decidim has been widely used by the administrations but this tool must be put at the service of the communities and the self-organization or self-management of the community.
It would be necessary to explore a little more the capacity of Decidim to use it in the decision making in more or less numerous digital assemblies.
Decidim, which was created as a hybrid participation tool (adding digital and face-to-face participation), with the crisis of Covid-19, becomes of fundamental importance, since digital participation is now the only possible participation.
- Have a good map or Case Study Guide of the use and good practices of the use of Decidim. (we attach some links to this).
- Integrate an instant messaging service in Decidim, similar to whatsapp, in order to increase usability, speed, and increase personal relationships.
- To test in situ the usability of Decidim in the community care networks.
- To create a user-friendly Decidim mobile App from the mobile phone
- Integration of different Decidim, to be able to enter with the same user and password to all of them.
- To carry out a wide plan of digital and democratic training based on Decidim, with incidence in the neighbourhoods with more social inequalities.
- To adapt Decidim to meet the needs of schools.
- Adapt Decidim for exclusively digital assemblies oriented to debate and collective construction.
- To increase and reinforce, from the administration, the public-community aspect, giving support to the community initiatives that we have seen arise in the Covid crisis.
Links provided by group members:
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