CitizenLab is a civic engagement platform on which citizens co-create their city. The SaaS solution is the medium for smart governments to communicate with their citizens and to democratize city governance through citizensourcing.It is the only two-way communication platform between cities and their citizens; i.e. citizens have a platform for share their ideas, as well as cities have a platform to consult their citizens’ opinion on their questions. The platform is designed for the citizen: simplicity (submitting, commenting and up voting an idea are max. 2 clicks away), accessibility (interaction with the government 24/7, on every possible device) and anonymity (we focus on content, not on identity). Cities moderate the content on the platform and have advanced customization options.
The start-up was founded two months ago, in the beginning of July. The idea behind was initiated as a frustration of how citizens, don’t have means to come up with ideas for their city. Today’s citizen participation possibilities in cities are limited to bureaucratic “pen and paper” forms, in-person visits and a single vote per X years — although, citizens are expecting more and more transparency and participation in this digital age. On the other hand, cities have a limited budget to build technological solutions in-house (they face a “make or buy decision” with very limited offerings on the buy side). CitizenLab offers a SaaS solution to this problem with its civic engagement platform on which citizens co-create their city. Citizens post ideas, interact on them and upvote the best ideas. On the other hand, the local government uses CitizenLab to let its citizens participate in its policy through crowd voting (e.g. for budget allocation).
The two founders – Wietse Van Ransbeeck & Aline Muylaert have been working together on several projects in the past. Together they’ve won Belgium’s largest startup competition Battle of Talents last year with their previous project Pitu. Wietse is doing the business development and web development, whereas Aline is the designer with a focus on the marketing side. In the meanwhile, the captain of Jakarta Meteor Riza Fahmi has also joined their team.
CitizenLab wants to focus initially on the European market, where several (smart) cities have expressed the need to offer their citizens a platform for participation in the city’s governance. The fact that they’ve built in a feature to easily customize the language of the platform makes it that they can scale rapidly in the scattered European landscape.It is a SaaS solution with a subscription-based revenue model basic starting from €299/month.
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