Digital democracy in the making: the Decidim platform ecosystem

Authors: Paolo Cardullo*, UOC, Ramon Ribera-Fumaz*,
Topics: Digital Geographies, Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: smart city, platforms, decidim, Barcelona, ecosystem
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 40
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Citizen-focused 'smart cities' are very much on the agenda in mainstream events and technology-based talks around the world. One of the most important solutions for democratic governance has been the multi-purpose platform Decidim, built in Barcelona on FOSS and transparent and inclusive ethical principles.

In this paper, we map the Decidim ecosystem -- the network of developers, research centres, maintainers, advocates and activists, and city administrators -- in Barcelona and beyond, in order to establish the long term connections, the affordance and limitations of such initiative with regard to its replication and scalability. For this, we use a mixed methodology of interviews, participation to online events and through content analysis of secondary sources.

We work on the hypothesis of non-deterministic deployment of technology highlighting the rich network and endeavours -- almost a materiality beyond the software -- cities put in place in order to maintain the platform and its ecosystem. We preliminary note that the uses and deployment of such a platform are strictly contextual and difficult to replicate in the same manner elsewhere. The initiative, arguably useful and sometimes remarkable, risks in fact having a limited impact if not supported by such advocacy and epistemic network and by a supportive political environment.

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