D-CENT will provide free digital tools for social movements, civic innovators and civil society groups for direct democracy and economic empowerment. It’s an open, decentralised and non-commercial alternative for non-profit sector to organize its activities. The EU-funded project started in October 2013.
D-CENT enables co-operation between the public sector and citizens. It seeks to increase democratic participation online – at a global level.
”Emerging social movements often face similar kinds of challenges when forming up. These issues are often related to practical things such as how to organize decision making, working and communications. With its digital tools, D-CENT aims to solve these common – but fundamental – problems and also support the birth and growth of new citizen movements,” says Open Democracy Expert Joonas Pekkanen from Forum Virium Helsinki.
It’s clear that there are already numerous web services offering digital tools for direct democracy (e.g. avoinministerio.fi
). However, all these services have previously been designed and used disconnected from each other. D-CENT wants to challenge this by creating a network of open software solutions supporting each other. With the use of open source standards and open data the new services can be developed in an easy and modular fashion. If this planned software ecosystem succeeds, it might change the future of the whole industry.
Engaging users and developers
The platform is built together with its users. Pilots running in Finland, Iceland and Spain gather use cases and knowledge from people who have already used online tools for direct democracy on an ad hoc basis. These pilots will also test the platform in practice.
The D-CENT platform is being developed with the support from the European Union. One of the principles of the D-CENT is privacy by design. The platform will be a secure and sustainable alternative to commercial platforms. D-CENT wants to create longer-term alternatives for today’s highly centralised platforms and power structures in the web.
D-CENT integrates successful open-source code bases and promotes large-scale adoption of the D-CENT open specifications, interoperable technology, open data and open APIs. The platform will be developed and iterated together with the software developers. The initial version is going to be launched during 2014 and developed in an agile fashion until 2016.
”This is a very ambitious project. In fact, in some ways we are building an open source competitor for Facebook and GoogleDocs. To make this happen, we want to engage a large number of developers, social movements, civic innovators and civil society groups around Europe to work with us,” Joonas Pekkanen continues.
The abbreviation D-CENT refers to Decentralised Citizens ENgagement Technologies. Besides the platform, the project explores how communities might manage common goods and facilitate online exchange with Bitcoin-style digital social currencies.
Extensive international consortium
D-CENT has a strong international consortium with nine partners from seven European countries: Finland, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands and Spain. The Finnish participants are Open ministry and Forum Virium Helsinki.
Forum Virium Helsinki is responsible for the project’s dissemination and executing the pilot in Helsinki where the service will be developed and tested closely with the end users.
D-CENT is supported by the European Union and funded under the Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development (FP7). The total budget is 2,5 million euros.
More information about the project
More information @ Forum Virium Helsinki:
Open Democracy Expert Joonas Pekkanen
tel. + 358 50 584 6800
Executive producer, Programme Director Mia Marttiini,
tel. +358 44 588 1717