Creating social platforms for citizen engagement

The European POWER project discusses progress to-date

The European project POWER (Political and sOcial awareness on Water EnviRonmental challenges) consortium held a meeting, hosted by KWR and Utrecht University, on 23 January. Over the course of two days, the various partners from across Europe discussed the project’s progress and outlined the major outcomes expected at its conclusion in November.

Testing platforms in Demonstration Cities

The project’s key mission is to develop Digital Social Platforms for innovation and growth, by engaging on a large scale with stakeholders in the co-creation and delivery of digital products and services to citizens; specifically, this involves awareness-raising, new policy initiatives and deployment. The project includes four key Demonstration Cities where these Digital Social Platforms are deployed for citizen engagement in meeting the following water challenges:

  • flood risk in Leicester (UK)
  • water consumption reduction in Milton Keynes (UK)
  • water quality in Sabadell (Spain)
  • water conservation in Jerusalem (Israel).

Together with Utrecht University, KWR has developed a tool to analyse the capacity to manage such water challenges, in order to identify key barriers, enablers and priorities for good governance and, in particular, to understand how Digital Social Platforms can enhance capacity development.

Engage water users

The Dutch drinking water utilities are increasingly seeking ways of engaging their water users in order to enhance water awareness, citizen feedback for improved decision-making, or achieve a behavioural change, for example, through water demand management measures. A topical example is the reduction of the consumption of drinking water at peak hours in the morning and evening during last summer’s drought period. Experiences with POWER’s Digital Social Platforms may provide vital lessons on how to engage citizens in water challenges faced by drinking water utilities. The platforms’ user-incentives, such as digital awards, visualisation and social events, provide essential learning-by-doing lessons for the successful engagement of drinking water customers in problem-solving. This particularly concerns topics such as: 1) customer/drinking water sector interface, 2) citizen science projects and 3) hydro-informatics, for which such Digital Social Platforms seem both an inevitable and promising future development.