Digital tools for democratic participation

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Alex Parsons, Rebecca Rumbul, Michelle Brook

While early discourse on the internet was optimistic about the potential for technology to improve democratic life, what has since become clear, is that digital tools for democracy do not provide easy shortcuts to better quality democratic engagement or outcomes. The design, implementation and marketing of these tools is important in shaping their impact.

This new report examines the role digital tools can have in helping democratic participation in local government - and the obstacles to success. As a companion paper to a review of current academic research in this area, this report examines how digital tools can be used by local authorities.


  1. Introduction
  2. Equal participation
  3. Multi-authority collaboration
    1. The complex landscape of local government in the UK
    2. Service intermediation
    3. Collaboration between authorities
  4. Accessing information and services
    1. Council websites
    2. Freedom of Information
  5. Digital collaboration
    1. Silent collaboration: FOI and 311
    2. Broadening consultations and engagement
    3. Participatory budgeting
    4. Civic crowdfunding
  6. Conclusion
    1. Acknowledgements

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Cite this

Parsons, A., Rumbul, R. and Brook, M. (2019). Digital tools for democratic participation. [online] mySociety Research. Available at: [Accessed 23 Oct 2021].