The digital tools that can keep democracy going during lockdown

Rosalyn Old at Nesta: “In the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, governments at all levels are having to make decisions to postpone elections and parliamentary sessions, all while working remotely and being under pressure to deliver fast-paced and effective decision-making.

In times of crisis, there can be a tension between the instinct to centralise decision-making for efficiency, sacrificing consultation in the process, and the need to get citizens on board with plans for large-scale changes to everyday life. While such initial reactions are understandable, in the current and next phases we need a different approach – democracy must go on.

Effective use of digital tools can provide a way to keep parliamentary and government processes going in a way that enhances rather than threatens democracy. This is a unique opportunity to experiment with digital methods to address a number of business-as-usual pain points in order to support institutions and citizen engagement in the long term.

Digital tools can help with the spectrum of decision-making

While digital tools can’t give the answers, they can support the practicalities of remote decision-making. Our typology of digital democracy shows how digital tools can be used to harness the wisdom of the crowd in different stages of a process:A typology of digital democracy

A typology of digital democracy

Digital tools can collect information from different sources to provide an overview of the options. To weigh up pros and cons, platforms such as Your Priorities and Consul enable people to contribute arguments. If you need a sense of what is important and to try to find consensus, and Loomio may help. To quickly gauge support for different options from stakeholders, platforms such as All Our Ideas enable ranking of a live bank of ideas. If you need to gather questions and needs of citizens, head to platforms like or online forms or task management tools like Trello or Asana….(More)”.