Things can be get done through participatory approach of networks of citizens. Traditionally solutions to societal, governance or environmental challenges have been designed by the top to down logic, i.e. through government. The citizens have not been active participants in shaping the response, moreover being an initiator of changes. However, this no longer makes sense, since citizens should be immediatley involved in tackling various problems they face. Having said that and bearing in mind two key factors – citizens, as a network of talented and mighty people, and the applicability of innovative technologies to support this network CityBugs was born in 2012.
CityBugs is entirely a new working mechanism, where ordinary citizens through participatory approach push the government to solve social issues. The platform is a response to daily challenges ordinary citizens face. Our goal is enhance the direct participation of citizens in addressing and resolving socially crucial issues in local communities by putting in place a citizen feedback e-mechanism for effective service delivery at national and local levels.
Every citizen is responsible for a change by reporting “bugs”, which are filtered according to thematic (education, environment, health, etc), visually tagged on Google interactive map, and rated. Despite physical location anyone can access CityBugs through Facebook or user registration. Using either web or mobile application (iOS and Android) anyone can report “bug”, e.g. garbage removal, traffic lights, non-supportive infrastructures for disabled people etc. In collaboration with Yerevan Municipality the bugs are solved. CityBug is a chance for everyone to have a voice in bettering something about our surroundings under the slogan “Let’s make our city a better place to live in”. CityBugs is unique since: 1) is a R&D and M&E tool, 2) targets every citizen 3) the ownership and participatory approach of residents are the key values 4) is a chance for youth to learn volunteerism 5) is an easy-accessible two-way communication tool between citizens and government.
CityBugs operates through website, where registered bugs are collected, tagged on Google map, solved and 2) mobile application (iOS and Android) allowing users to report bugs from anywhere. Anyone despite the physical location and with access to internet is able to access and participate in bettering our surrounding. CityBugs was duplicated in 4 other cities of Armenia. Growing number of users, number of solved bugs and thank-you letters prove that CityBugs has real change-making value with immediate impact: 1) improved infrastructures, bettered lifestyle & living standards 2) increased trust level toward the government, 3) active citizenship, 4) free of charge, regular & non-biased information on existing social issues, serving as M&E, R&D tool. This means that the social platform supports citizens in solving issues and improve qualitative features of life, as well as increase the level of trust toward government.