D•lab – a Program for Innovators for Digital Democracy from UkraineGrants 26.03.2019
Betterplace Lab is launching D•lab – Digital Democracy lab. D•lab is a program where we support engaged people from the field of digital democracy to refine their idea for democracy. The project is funded by EVZ Foundation „Remembrance, Responsibility and Future“ and implemented together with the local project partner 1991 Civic Tech Center in Kyiv. Apply now!
- D•lab in a few sentences
- D•lab – program description
- What do we mean by digital democracy?
- What topics do we mean by digital democracy?
- Who should apply and how do we select participants?
- Facts and figures about Dlab
- Who are the organisations and people behind D•lab?
D•lab in a few sentences
D•lab is a betterplace lab program where we support ideas from Ukrainian civil society for a better democracy in the digital age. At D•lab 15 selected Ukrainian based innovators come together in Berlin, Kyiv and digitally within the time frame of the project (May until September 2019) to collaboratively work on their ideas. They are supported by (external) input, a peer-learning format and an international network to help bring their ideas to the next level. Apply with your idea here
D•lab – program description
D•lab stands for “Digital Democracy lab” and is a program by betterplace lab, funded by the German EVZ Foundation (Foundation for “Rememberance, Responsibility and Future”.
At D•lab we want to bring together innovative minds that have an idea to foster democracy in a digitised world. The participants of D•lab will come together several times in the course of 2019 – in Berlin, Kyiv and digitally – to discuss, sharpen and scrutinize their idea for a better democracy through digital solutions.
D•lab will support the participants in the comprehensive fields such as innovative methodology (e.g. design thinking), in looking at the impact dimension of the respective idea and in discussing rather technological seeming questions (e.g. Human Centered Design). We pursue a collaborative approach throughout the program, providing a mix of expert input, peer-learning and constant feedback loops ensuring the program is catering to the needs of the participants.
D•lab serves as a space for further development, testing and reflection on the participants project idea – continuously creating a playing field for mutual inspiration and network building.
D•lab is a program focusing on an exchange of knowledge of Germany and Ukraine, however, all 15 participants of D•lab are based in Ukraine. We decided to scout participants from one of the two countries to provide similar working contexts, shape a local/national network and hopefully lay the foundation stone for further collaboration in Ukraine. Nevertheless, international collaboration is at the heart of the project, as betterplace lab is a Berlin-based nonprofit think-and-do-tank, our project partner 1991 Civic Tech Center is a Kyiv-based NGO and the foundation funding D•lab – EVZ Foundation (Foundation for “Rememberance, Responsibility and Future”.
What do we mean by digital democracy?
Defining democracy in itself is not an easy attempt, providing a definition of digital democracy doesn’t seem to ease things up!
We believe, that the digital transformation challenges the way we exercise democracy today. Digital solutions provide a whole new set for participating in society and we find it’s time to make better use of these potentials – for a more inclusive creation of society!
But, back to the core: What do we mean by democracy?
First of all: democracy can be a lot. Ask 10 different people around you and we bet you’ll get 10 different answers!
We perceive democracy as: an institutional order, a form of government, a principle of majority rule. But even more so: democracy is a set of values, a cultural condition, a mindset. We believe democracy as a continuous negotiation process.
Democracy is the right for participation and the right to craft your own life. Thereby it is not only crucial to have the right to do so, but to be able to acquire the ability to act upon that right. Democracy starts at the point of forming an opinion and extends to the co-creation of a political decision. We understand it as what happens at the voting ballot at much as what happens before, between and after.
What part does digitalisation play for democracy?
Gone are the times where you’d divide the world into analog and digital. It’s quite puzzling, that politics seems to not fully make use of those (not so new) digital ways to enhance political processes or a more participatory society in general. Take the fact that most people make use of digitization in almost every sphere of their lives, but (political) institutions still predominantly remind of the their own foundation time.
We understand that despite different levels of digitalisation and its influence, digital can never be the solution itself, nor can it be a quick fix for deeply rooted (social) challenges. Still, we’d like to engage with the potentials that digitalisation offers for democracy, because we believe that digital tools can enrich democracy in its various spheres.
Digital democracy means the usage of information and communication technology (ICT) throughout the exercise of democracy. That entails (among other things):
- Informing citizens: Notifying citizens about and/or increasing access to upcoming debates, votes and consultations (live-streaming, websites and apps, transcripts and voting records)
- Citizens providing information: Providing citizens with opportunities to share information about specific problems, or to understand individual needs or larger patterns and trends. (citizen generated data)
- Deliberation: Platforms and tools which enable citizens to deliberate. (online forums and debating platforms)
- Citizens monitoring and assessing public actions and services: Providing information about policy and legislation implementation, decision making processes, policy outcomes and the records of elected officials, to enable citizen monitoring and evaluation. (Open Data, Open budgets, transparency data)
These examples are taken from the “typology of digital democracy” by the British think tank Nesta. Find more detailed information in the report “Digital Democracy. The Tools Transforming Political Engagement”, 2017.
We’ve extracted these examples and aggregated the following categories of digital democracy:
- Transparency through digital tools (providing information, opportunity to formulate an opinion, policy monitoring and evaluation, e.g. live-streaming political debates)
- Opinion accumulation through digital tools (setting the agenda, e.g. with petition papers)
- Discourse through digital tools (consultation, accompanied by the solving processes, e.g. subjects platforms for debating)
- Crowdsourcing through digital tools (bringing in and sharing an expertise bottom-up, e.g. input in form of proposals for political decisions or topics)
What topics do we mean by digital democracy?
To give you a few ideas, we’d like to share what topic areas came to our minds, emphasising that this list can by no means be exhausted. (As stated above, democracy can mean a lot and we are open to ideas that foster any of the respective spheres.)
We’d love to work with ideas that foster the areas of:
- Transparency, such as anti-corruption, civil society acting as a watchdog of the government, also investigative media (also: informing about historically relevant contexts, e.g. sustaining the voices of contemporary witnesses)
- Opinion accumulation, such as making underrepresented voices heard
- Discourse, such as freedom of speech or digital moral courage (anti-hate-speech)
- Crowdsourcing, such as enabling the participation of the many to paint a more accurate picture of any given context
We are eager to learn what topic area of digital democracy is keeping you busy!
What kind of ideas are we looking for?
Ultimately it comes down to your creativity which (digital) way you’d like to pursue you wish to strengthen democracy! This can be using an existing infrastructure such as a social media platform to creatively campaign on a topic, building a “simpler” way such as a website or developing a tech-savvy platform.
Find more information in the selection criteria to better understand what we look for in your idea.
Who should apply and how do we select participants?
- You are an activist in the field of digital democracy and/or a member of an organisation working in the field of digital democracy
- Your idea is fostering a relevant topic area of digital democracy
Basically, if you are engaged in the field of digital democracy, striving for a more open, inclusive society and have an idea that you want to bring about within D•lab. We strongly invite activists that are not aligned with any organisation, to apply (being part of an organisation/institution is not necessary to qualify for D•lab).
The program creates a safe space and is neutral to political spectrum as long as it is aligned with the German and Ukrainian constitution.
We would like to emphasize that we highly engage solutions for local contexts as much as national level to apply.
Also, we are highly encouraging for participants to apply regardless of their origin, age, religion, gender, disability and all people with a migration background and people of colour.
If all that sounds good for you, please apply here (Application form).
What’s in it for you?
Glad you asked! We’d love to give you a few arguments at hand why investing some time and brainpower at D•lab is definitely worth it:
- You will receive professional assistance in fine tuning your idea! betterplace lab has relevant experience in creating and implementing (digital) learning processes in the fields of digital democracy (check out demokratie.io and Das NETTZ). We also collaborate with experts from the field in Germany and Ukraine.
- You will have access to an (inter-)national network of civic tech actors who strive for a better, more inclusive society. betterplace lab is a think-and-do-tank striving for a digitization that benefits humanity through research, experiments and collaboration. As part of Europe’s largest donation platform betterplace.org we have relevant expertise in the field of social change. Our project partners are 1991 Civic Tech Center and 1991 Incubator. 1991 Civic Tech Center is a dedicated hub located in the heart of Ukrainian capital to inspire civic tech startups and community with location, space, connections, acceleration programs, events and each other.1991 Incubator is a non-profit, equity-free and the biggest incubation program in Ukraine. Being behind the successful Open Data reform, 1991 Open Data Incubator is a nonprofit incubator that helps create startups and services based on large arrays of open data that will be useful for Ukrainian citizens, companies and public authorities.
- You are at the start of a learning journey! We will provide you with relevant input, expertise and experts in your field of interest (we collaborate with experts depending on your needs – from “Human Centered Design” until “How to raise funds for your project”) and bring you together with peers that are working on various ways to improve democracy in the digital world. Together you can learn, exchange knowledge and experiences, and collaboratively schärfen your project idea to a point where it’s ready to be pitched in front of actors interested in your vision for a better (digital) democracy!
What are the selection criteria?
We have identified relevant selection criteria (see below), which we, betterplace lab, and our project partner, 1991 Civic Tech Center, will apply to the applications to find the most 15 eligible participants for D•lab. The decision of selecting the participants is a shared process with our project partner 1991 Civic Tech Center. In case the applications exceed a certain number, betterplace lab reserves the right to generate a shortlist which we will then present to and discuss with the project partner.
To apply the selection criteria, we will rate every aspect with a certain number (from 1 to 5), 5 being the highest (translating to “Strongly agree”) and 1 being the lowest (translating to “Strongly disagree”). The full scale rating from 1 to 5 looks as follows:
- Strongly disagree
- Neither agree nor disagree
- Strongly agree
The numerical assessment of the applications will help guiding the discussion with the project partner, the ultimate and final decision will be made in that discussion.
The following selection criteria and questions are guiding as orientation point for the numerical assessment:
- Is the idea’s reference to the topic of digital democracy distinct?
- Does the proposed solution seem adequate to enhance democracy?
- Could your idea have impact? (Can this idea enrich democracy?)
- Does the idea have a convincing approach to enrich democracy?
- Do you believe the idea can reach a point of readiness for implementation (with the support within D•lab)?
- Does the idea have a chance of being implemented after D•lab?
- Is the idea innovative? Are you wondering “why did no one else do this before”?
- Does the idea involve digital solutions in creative or unexpected ways to enrich democracy?
- Does the project feature a relevant digital component? Is the digital component crucial for the project?
- Does the digital component promise scope/scale?
Facts and figures about D•lab
- We are looking for 15 participants based in Ukraine that want to be part of the project from May until September 2019.
- We will host a 4-day workshop for the 15 participants in Berlin within the time frame from 18.6-23.6(availability to the given dates is a requirement for participation in the program. All expenses are covered.)
- We will host a workshop for the 15 participants in Kyiv on 24.9-26.9, where you will ultimately pitch your idea in front of a curated audience (availability to the given dates is a requirement for participation in the program. All expenses are covered.)
- We will co-create with the 15 participants a digital learning process starting at few weeks before the first workshop in Berlin and ending shortly after the workshop in Kyiv. We kindly ask all participants to be available for this digital sphere of D•lab. We will discuss with the participants the working schedules and concrete dates for digital meetings. We understand that you might not be able to make it to every single digital meeting – given your regular working schedule and also vacation times in the summer – however we’d like you to generally provide the capacity to work with us in the digital sphere of D•lab. The intensity and time you will spend on the project very much depends on your own motivation, however we are assuming that a working time between 15 and 20 hours/month is necessary throughout the project (besides the workshops in Berlin and Kyiv).
What happens next?
- Well first we are hoping that you will apply for D•lab here (Application form) until 22.4.2019.
- We will look through the applications as they come in also before the date of the deadline. As you know, we are looking for 15 candidates for D•lab. Therefore we advise you not to wait until the very last minute to send in your application.
- We might approach you at the end of April to clarify some specific questions we might have on your application. Please check your email especially the time after the official deadline so we get the chance to speak to you shortly.
- We will inform all 15 final candidates in the beginning of May 2019 and then book your flights and accommodation for the workshops. Please remember: To be a participant at D•lab, it is mandatory that you will take part on both workshops (4 days within the time frame of 18.6-23.6.2019 in Berlin and 3 days on 24.9-26.9.2019 in Kyiv) and the digital learning space over the summer of 2019. In case you cannot fully guarantee your commitment, please be mindful that other prospective candidates want to and might need the support that D•lab offers.
- Before the first workshop in Berlin we will send you a short survey as to what kind of input you wish for at D•lab – we’d love to design a program that is catering to your needs!
Who are the organisations and people behind D•lab?
betterplace lab is a Berlin-based think-and-do-tank striving for a digitization that benefits humanity through research, experiments and collaboration. As part of Europe’s largest donation platform betterplace.org we have relevant expertise in the field of social change. As part of betterplace.org, Germany’s largest online donation platform (active in 127 countries), we carry out studies, disseminate our knowledge in innovation workshops, and work for the positive use of digitization worldwide. Further information can be found at www.betterplace-lab.org.
From the betterplace lab team Franziska Kreische, Katja Jäger and Oleksandra Bukharina are working on D•lab.
1991 Civic Tech Center is a dedicated hub located in the heart of Ukrainian capital to inspire civic tech startups and community with location, space, connections, acceleration programs, events and each other.
1991 Open Data Incubator is a non-profit, equity-free and the biggest incubation program in Ukraine. Being behind the successful Open Data reform, 1991 is supported by Ukrainian Government and helps to launch data-rich startups for anti-corruption as well as re-ignition of key sectors of the economy: infrastructure, energy, agriculture, public sector in a cooperation with the corresponding Ministries and industry leaders.1991 Incubator helps create startups and services based on large arrays of open data that will be useful for Ukrainian citizens, companies and public authorities.
From 1991 team Anastasia Sylenok Center’s Executive Director and Jane Klepa, Incubator’s Executive Director are working on D•lab.
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