Almost 40% of the French population with voting rights decided not to exercise that right in the latest municipal elections that took place in March of 2014, a number that represents an all-time high in local elections. In addition to that, 85% of French people think that politicians don’t care about what citizens think, according to a CNRS barometer (the most prestigious French scientific institution) published in January of 2015. Julie de Pimodan has developed Fluicity with the intention that citizen demands are heard by local politicians in a responsible and constructive way.
This platform allows local governments to establish communication channels with the population to let them know of the steps they are taking and receive in real time their opinion about them. Furthermore, citizens can propose ideas to solve the problems they consider relevant, receive feedback from the municipality and follow up on the actions taken.
Residents of the cities that have incorporated Fluicity can download the app and create personalized profiles featuring their interests so they can receive news, proposals and answer surveys about them. They can indicate if they believe a measure taken has been positive or negative, and the municipality’s dashboard will show all data gathered and statistics for each issue. Also, through the application the citizens will be able to start a conversation with the relevant decision-makers in charge of the subject.
"An inhabitant may think that having a system that controls stoplights depending on traffic could be a good idea to improve circulation and reduce pollution, since he knows that it has worked in a neighboring town, so he decides to propose it to his city through the application," explains de Pimodan. The next step in this hypothetical example would be to tell this person what the town council thinks of his sugestion, if they have already studied the issue and what action they will take.
"Transparency and accountability for citizens' proposals are very important," says Fluicity’s creator. This former journalist spent part of her professional career in Yemen and the UAE, which raised her awareness about governments that alienate their citizens and the utilization of new technologies by the citizenship. She then worked for four years for the giant Google, a job that took her to Istanbul (Turkey), where she lived up close the protests of Taksim Square. There, she realized the importance of civic innovation for democratic transformation. There is a need to create new mechanisms for citizens to express their views on civic problems that they believe need solving. Also, so that leaders know the real opinion of the people on these issues and the policies they implement.
In her opinion, "A lot of civic innovation is needed; both in emerging markets where democracy is not yet fully established, and in countries like France, that established democracy hundreds of years ago." In 2014 she decided to take a leave from Google and create Fluicity so that decision-making processes could include actual data from citizens' opinions. The first version was launched in March and there are already advanced talks with several French municipalities for its implementation.
For Jean-François Carrasco, member of the judging panel at MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 awards and member of the board of the European Institute of Digital Intelligence, Julie de Pimodan “provides a new angle for an old question and gives tools so decision-makers can do so knowing what public opinion is.”