Governing Moscow: How citizens can influence the city’s development

Governing Moscow: How citizens can influence the city’s development
Online services allow people to do almost anything: setting trip routes, booking hotels, monitoring public transport and even governing the city. Read this mos.ru article and learn about the main instruments of e-democracy in Moscow.

Should a municipal deputy or a district council employee be in charge of deciding whether there is a need for an additional bus route, of making a library schedule or of dealing with a pothole? Not necessarily. These and similar issues are resolved by residents of the city (the active ones) on a daily basis. Moscow, in turn, encourages such an active position and provides opportunities for residents to take part in city governance.

Moscow has three major instruments for facilitating interaction between the government and city residents: Active Citizen, Our City and a crowdsourcing project. Using these services, millions of Muscovites take part in city governance. If you have not started using them yet, below you will find why why you should probably start doing so.

Active Citizen

The Active Citizen portal is a project for those who are concerned about what is happening in Moscow. The portal allows citizens to vote on various areas of city life, such as transport, culture, urban development, healthcare and others. By taking part in them, registered users (active citizens) can directly influence life in the city.

There are almost two million of those who care. Some 2,671 polls have been held since the launch of the project, among them city-wide, those related to specific areas of the city and those concerning specific groups of people, such as parents, graduates, young people or others.

Active citizens receive points for taking part in votes, as well for regularly visiting the website or the app and for inviting other users to join the project. Points can be exchanged, for instance, for free parking time or theatre and museum tickets.

At the moment, one can influence the future of cultural centres, pick new programmes for the Moscow Educational Channel and jobs for the Moscow Masters competition, as well as suggest a name for the Third Interchange Circuit.

To join the project, download the free mobile app from Google Play, App Store or Microsoft Store, or register at ag.mos.ru with you mobile phone number. To earn initial points and get access to the full list of votes, you should give as many details in your profile as possible. After receiving 1000 points, you will receive the Active Citizen status and be able to exchange your points.

Our City

Our City is a portal that helps solve various problems, such as bad service at outpatient clinics, a damaged children’s playground, potholes, garbage in entrance halls and other issues. Your complaint will appear on a website page after passing the moderator’s approval and the relevant authority will be able to address it. Within eight working days a response on elimination of the violation must be provided or, if it requires more time, a timeframe for the elimination of the problem must be given.

How does it work? Go to gorod.mos.ru or download the Our City app, register by giving your name or a nickname and your email address. It is also possible to register through social networks, the State Services portal and by phone number. Upon registering, you will be able to submit complaints. To do so, pick a subject (for instance, lack of sand in sandboxes, improper maintenance of residential buildings, abandoned cars, or lack of garbage bins), then provide the location, a description and a photo.

Subjects change depending on the season. For instance, in the spring and summer users can complain about worn-out road markings, bad maintenance of green areas or violations made by summer cafes. In winter, among the subjects are ice in courtyards, unremoved snowbanks and icicles, or bad ice on skating rinks.

Over a million people use the Our City portal. Over 1.92 million complaints have been registered online since its launch.

Crowdsourcing

The Moscow Government’s crowdsourcing project is a platform where one can suggest ideas on how to deal with certain issues and then discuss, improve and pick the best solution. The algorithm looks like this: idea – expert selection – discussion – voting – implementation.

For instance, the My Mos.Ru project was aimed at collecting ideas on how to improve the official website of the Moscow Mayor and Government. Over 3,160 participants sent in their proposals, and then experts picked the most promising ones. The participants then discussed them and held a vote. Some of the winning ideas included creating sections with information about life in each district, providing an opportunity to sort events in the calendar by their location, creating a messenger app with chat bots, and other ideas, which the city will implement within this and the following year.

Among subjects discussed previously on the site are stray animals in the city, active old age, children’s outpatient clinics, Moscow libraries, and various others (13 projects in all). In all, 131,242 people have sent in 83,373 proposals; experts then selected more than 2,600 for further discussion.

To take part, one needs only to register on crowd.mos.ru. The current project is called Cultural Centres: The Future. It is aimed at gathering fresh ideas for the capital’s cultural centres. Participants can suggest educational and entertainment programmes for adults and children, new services they would like to see, and convenient operating hours. Ideas can be submitted until 28 September.