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Publications

New 2024 Edition

SDI Digital Democracy Report

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2024 Digital Democracy Report

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Functionality Areas

Data Visualisations

The Report is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 License and can be shared freely with attribution. Physical copies of the report can also be obtained - please contact us for pricing.

How to Cite this Report:

R.H. Fuller and M. Jakovljev, 2024 SDI Digital Democracy Report (Solonian Democracy Institute, 2024)

Introduction

This report, now in its fourth edition, tracks the development of digital democracy technologies and seeks to provide an overview of the various fields of application (e.g. voting, participatory budgeting, public consultation, etc.). The goal is to provide a repository for policy makers, NGOs and academics, as well as for the democracy software industry itself. This year, we have evaluated 21 eDemocracy tools from 17 countries. 

Since the publication of the last edition of this report in early 2022, the adoption of digital technology for civic purposes has undergone a turbulent period: some vendors have been acquired by larger, more generally focused, entities, while others have shuttered operations for the foreseeable future. As a result, this report looks out on a substantially altered landscape that betrays the effects of two years coping with the challenges we foresaw in our previous introduction. 

These challenges were, to recap:

  1. that the extreme partisanship in some social strata would lead to an intense focus on the outcomes rather than the process of democracy. We predicted that this would necessarily result in constraints and preconditions being set on participation, destroying the legitimacy of results

  2. that large private foundations which had recently begun to funnel large sums of money into ‘democracy’-related activities, would in following their own intense partisan goals seek to subvert equality-based democracy

  3. that governments, due to the increasingly tense geopolitical situation, would seek to use digital tools to legitimize their own foreign policy goals or, conversely, discredit the ends of their alleged enemies. 

While we have yet to see any noticeable impact of the third challenge, we do see a landscape that has already largely buckled under the first two, with many tools increasingly shifting their focus to rote ‘engagement’ with little commitment to equality, neutrality or implementation. While we have made every effort to continue to focus only on those tools which provide meaningful impact to citizens, and exclude those that do not, it cannot be denied that this field has thinned. 

Despite these challenges, many of the remaining vendors continue to expand their functionality, including in the areas of electronic identification and participatory budgeting. In addition, many vendors have improved the back-end component of their software to facilitate the administrator experience.

As a research institute, we continue to apply a rigorous and demanding lens to this report. While we have provided an overall score for each vendor, each use case is different, so by outlining the strengths of every solution across multiple categories, we are hopeful that you will find the right one for you, whether you are organising a participatory budgeting project for a small community or planning a major voting exercise for a large city or even country. 

The Solonian Democracy Institute remains a voluntary organisation dedicated to creating the conditions for direct, digital democracy based on Athenian democratic principles of citizen participation.

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Our Archive

The SDI Digital Democracy Report

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2022 Digital Democracy Report

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17

7

Vendors

Countries

Functionality Areas

This report, now in its third year, tracks the development of digital democracy technologies and seeks to provide an overview of the various fields of application (e.g. voting, participatory budgeting, public consultation, etc.) to anyone interested in advancing this field. The goal is to provide a repository for policy makers, NGOs and academics, as well as for the democracy software industry itself. This year, we have evaluated 28 eDemocracy tools from 17 countries.

 

Since the publication of the first edition of this report in early 2020 we have seen a rapid expansion in the adoption of digital technology for civic purposes, both in terms of the number of people using digital democracy in their daily lives and in terms of digital participation becoming anchored in longterm official processes. The impact that digital democracy tools can offer citizens is becoming ever more apparent, and developers continue to make great strides in improving both the security and versatility of their solutions. This year we particularly saw the adoption and integration of video functionality into many tools, reflecting its wider usage in online communication. Several tools also added participatory budgeting features, again reflecting increased interest in this area. 

 

(Download to read more)

How to Cite this Report:

R.H. Fuller, 2022 SDI Digital Democracy Report (Solonian Democracy Institute, 2022).

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2021 Digital Democracy Report

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Vendors

Countries

Functionality Areas

Since the publication of the first edition of this report in early 2020, the Covid-19 crisis has forced citizens, businesses and governments alike to re-examine how we work, live and travel.

 

The crisis has had a profound impact on how people use technology as well, with video-conferencing replacing virtually all meetings in both the white collar space as well as the public sector. And yet, the digitalisation of politics itself has not progressed nearly as rapidly. Many parliaments and political bodies around the world are now meeting via Zoom or MS Teams, but these tools primarily facilitate discussion among small numbers of people, rather than create the framework for more effective – and more participatory – decisions.

This lag of the political process – compared to any other area of our daily lives – has many reasons: It takes time to change the legal frameworks underpinning our societies; not everyone is in favour of expanding digital participation to more citizens; and concerns around security have delayed the adoption of eDemocracy.

 

(Download to read more)

How to Cite this Report: R.H. Fuller, SDI Digital Democracy Report (Solonian Democracy Institute, 2021).

2020 Digital Democracy Report

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Over the last 15 years, consumer technology has brought about significant advances in peerto-peer communication (e.g. Skype), commerce (e.g. Ebay) and social networking (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). It is now possible to share ideas and opinions free from geographic restriction.

 

Spurred on by these developments, dozens of technology vendors are now architecting the future of digital democracy. The integration of Blockchain into these technologies over the past few years has also addressed some of the security concerns around digitalising democratic processes.

 

This report will track the development of these technologies and seek to provide an overview of the various fields of application (e.g. voting, participatory budgeting, public consultation, etc.) to anyone interested in advancing this field. Our ultimate goal is to provide a repository for policy makers, NGOs and academics, as well as for the democracy software industry itself. This report represents our first step in that process.

(Download to read more)

How to Cite this Report: R.H. Fuller, SDI Digital Democracy Report (Solonian Democracy Institute, 2020).

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