New technologies to foster participation and transparency in Ukrainian cities
Modern Ukraine is an industrial country with a predominantly urban population. With the rapid urban development of the past decades, government institutions in Ukraine are using internet technologies more and more actively to inform citizens about official decisions related to urban planning. They use online platforms to announce updates such as when they adopt new master plans or construct large public facilities like stadiums and bridges. However, officials usually inform citizens about decisions after they have been made. This neither stimulates citizen feedback nor encourages them to express their own ideas through the internet during the decision-making process.
Eastern-Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives supported by UNDP Ukraine came up with a software based on public participation geographic information systems – or PPGIS - and crowdsourcing, which will help bridge this gap. The online platform is intended to provide an avenue for citizens to express their ideas and to provide feedback on projects proposed by the government. It will also enable citizens to develop their own electronic models for the spatial development of territories and cities.
UPlanIT was among the three winning ideas awarded by the jury at the human rights laboratory – or HuRiLab - which had the first Social Innovation Camp on human rights and access to justice, hosted by UNDP. In the month following the social innovation camp, the Eastern-Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives discussed concrete steps to implementing the UPlanIT project.
Eastern-Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives held a seminar on “Open Access to the General Plans of Cities: How to Turn Ideas into Reality” which was attended by over 40 community activists, journalists, bloggers, scientists, and architects from Ukraine, as well as specialists in spatial planning from the United States and Portugal. As a result, a group of practitioners submitted two grant proposals to find funding for the practical implementation of the project which were supported by UNDP Ukraine “Democratization and Human Rights” project. Their efforts have led to collaboration with the city of Severodonetsk, where citizens will use the UPlanIT platform to participate in the developing of their city park.