Citizen participation

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Tracing back to classical principles of democracy, citizen participation[1] is widely accepted and appreciated in community decision making, community development as well as the health and social sectors. Basically, citizen volunteering and involvement are considered to balance and control political decisions, and result in decisions more beneficial to citizens and increased public acceptance. Citizens always assess risks, threats and uncertainties on a subjective and individual basis. To a certain extent, gaps between felt and factual security are normal phenomena. Even if not supported by other, more technical ways of risk assessment, integrating citizens’ needs in urban planning will strengthen its addressing of security issues and contribution to enhancing urban resilience.

Security-related aspects

  • In security research, citizens have recently come to be regarded as the ultimate end-users of security solutions and technologies, and thus not as addressees of security measures, but as an essential group of stakeholders, that should be involved in related planning processes.
  • Citizen participation in planning of security measures allows for evaluation of culture related beliefs, attitudes and risk aspects, and for identification of group specific security needs.
  • Moreover, public and social perception of (in)security and risks is gaining increasing recognition in risk and security policies and decision making. Local community perception of risk situations and of security enhancing measures can be evaluated through citizen participation, and should be considered throughout the planning process.
  • Citizen participation methods are useful tools to address culture aspects, legal aspects and ethics aspects in security related urban planning.

Types of citizen participation for use in security-related urban planning consultation processes[1]

Type of participation Concept
  • Citizens are informed about their rights, responsibilities and options
  • One-way communication, even if the information is provided at the request of stakeholders
  • Does not involve channels to provide feedback or enter into negotiations
  • Information is provided through channels that are accessible to all members of the community
  • Two-way communication, where stakeholders have an opportunity to voice suggestions and concerns
  • Does not offer any assurance that stakeholders’ ideas and opinions will be used at all or as they intended
  • Usually conducted through meetings chaired by a person representing various levels of government or their bodies
Consensus building
  • Stakeholders interaction in order to understand each other and arrive at negotiated positions that are acceptable for the whole group
  • However, vulnerable individuals and groups often tend to remain silent or passively agree to negotiated solutions
  • Strategies should be employed to ensure that the opinions of men and women are equally considered, especially in this phase
  • An expression of both power and responsibilities for outcomes that may result
  • Negotiations at this stage reflect the different degrees of commitment exercised by individuals and groups
  • Collective actions result in a mix of beneficial, harmful and neutral consequences that are equally shared by all partners
  • Accountability is fundamental at this stage
  • Sharing among stakeholders with similar, equal status and towards a common goal
  • Highest level of participatory efforts
  • Stakeholders take full responsibility for projects that affect them directly and are willing to learn how to conduct the process from beginning to end

Citizens participation methods useful for security-related urban planning

Method Culture aspects Legal aspects Ethics aspects
Activating opinion survey X

Allows for identifying culture related risk aspects

Advocacy planning X
Appreciative planning X X
Citizen jury X X
Cooperative discourse X
Dynamic facilitation Allows for identifying culture aspects

and perception of (in)security and risks

Experimental participation X
Focus group X X X
Future workshop X
Local open dialogue methods X X X
Neosocratic dialogue X
Participatory diagnosis Allows for identifying culture aspects

and perception of (in)security and risks

Planning for real X

Allows for identifying culture related risk aspects

Safety audit X

Allows for identifying culture related risk aspects

Links and further information

Footnotes and references