Society in Cyprus is continuously being affected by an increasing lack of trust toward public administration. The recent scandals related to corruption phenomena in local authorities are diffusing significantly this belief among wider parts of the population. This has affected the already declining number of participants in the voting procedure.
The problem is tightly interwoven with a more general phenomenon of scarce access to information and its quality, widely spread in Cyprus despite the apparent high ranks of Transparency1. No site of any local administration in Cyprus reports on Transparent Administration2. Moreover, sites lack data related to their territorial and demographic dimensions, reported on other institutions lacking readability and immediacy of graphic illustration.
The issue is related also to the concentration of power in the central state while the urgent Reform of the Local Authorities3 has not been neither completed nor implemented. As a consequence, people become demotivated and alienated from the participatory procedure as they feel that their voices cannot reach the upper administrative levels4.
Devolution could also have a strong impact on strengthening local administration and facilitate the perception of an administrative canton model, undoubtedly closer to that of a federation.
The current idea aims to reinforce local authorities and constitutes a challenge for these institutions. Eventually approved it could become a tool of communication for the Union of Municipalities (currently 30)5.
2. The majority of European Local Authorities report on transparent public expenditure, public acts, etc.
3. Reform of Local Authorities in Cyprus, National School of Government International (NSGI) Final Report, 8 April 2014.
4. In the above report (Greek version: par. 3.63, page 68) the need for mechanisms that secure the involvement and empowerment of society is reported as one of the conclusions.
5. Refers to local Authorities in the areas under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus.
The idea focuses on Local Administration as the closest level to the citizenship. It suggests the creation of a hot line, an on-line desk for mediation and service which aims to reduce the gap between citizens and L.A. The proposed tool, based on the response and a number of indexes/data taken from Authorities websites will assess the gap between local administration and citizens, level of satisfaction concerning the offered services, provided opportunities for participation and involvement of citizenship, level of administrative transparency.
The tool will map and report authorities' trend and scores on the above issues trying to stimulate their response. At the same time it will provide basic features (contact, demography data etc) for each L.A. and illustrate on a graphic level the various solutions of the suggested L.A Reform.
Users will have the chance to report, leave comments, suggestions and opinions through social media or address relevant requests.
The tool will consist of a mobile-friendly webpage (localization and exploitation of mobile internet/GPS) based on similar projects and members' previous experience. The tool will be partially GIS based (zoomable map) and will operate on several territorial levels like RIMAP. It will provide the opportunity to compare and extract general and specific data on municipalities according to the selected indexes. It will enable citizens to contribute information via crowd sourcing. Social media capabilities will also be provided, where information can be easily shared to other platforms. It will provide an indispensable guide in e-learning form for participation and the right of access to L.A. information. This can serve as a common interactive place where users can receive this knowledge in a modularized manner and share tips and advice. Messages towards L.A. will be directed through their contact details.