Fingal Voices: Citizen-centred Smart Technology
Citizen’s voices are central to how local government works. Through consultations, surveys, social media, and town-halls, local authorities reach out to communities for input and insights. The ‘Fingal Voices’ mobile app is an innovative initiative that empowers and incentivises Fingal County Council residents to participate in decision-making, make their voices heard and engage with their local government.
Fingal Voices is the result of the “Unheard Voices Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Challenge”, launched by Fingal County Council in 2018, in partnership with Enterprise Ireland and Smart Dublin. The challenge sought to identify smart, low cost solutions that would encourage engagement of traditionally ‘unheard voices’ in decision-making about the future of Fingal.
Smart Futures successfully secured funding through the SBIR programme to co-develop a bespoke, citizen engagement mobile application for Fingal County Council.
Throughout Phase 1 of the challenge, a series of workshops were held with community members across Fingal to understand the local context and identify the design needs of the end-users. By Phase 2, a beta version of the app was made available where users could submit feedback and suggestions as the app was further developed.
In May 2020 the ‘Fingal Voices’ app was officially launched and is now publically available for android and apple devices (see resources). Residents can access public consultations directly via the app and will accrue points through their engagement that can be exchanged for vouchers and gifts at various local retail partners. Users can vote, rate and comment on specific consultations and questionnaires, submit ideas and suggest improvements, and access local and community news and events information.
Technological solutions can improve government accountability to citizens, closing the gap between communities and decision-makers. The intended impact of the Fingal Voices app is to empower and incentivise citizens to engage with Fingal County Council, share their views and opinions, and help shape decisions about their community.