Nudging citizens to participate in public works consultations

Case Study

Context

In its efforts to connect more regularly and more deeply with its citizens, the City of Rome is engaging in more and more public consultations through digital channels online. In that vein, the City reached out to hundreds of thousands of Romans for an urban beautification project, seeking ideas for how to improve their local neighbourhoods and input on which of the long list of submissions should be carried forward for more in-depth consideration. However, engagement rates were very low, and the project risked not reflecting the will of the citizenry overall—perhaps missing the mark of the popular will, and not benefiting fully from the creativity and passion of the whole body of Rome.

Approach

Encountering these challenges, the City of Rome reached out to The Decision Lab to increase engagement rates. Working on a short timeline, the TDL team devised a series of interventions to improve messaging and mobilize the full energies of the Roman body. Through rigorous testing, The Decision Lab was able to increase participation by nearly 60%. In the end, it was time pressure—a sense of urgency—that encouraged the citizens of The Eternal City to voice their opinions and contribute to building the next stage in its future.

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