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City of Montreal Releases Digital Trend & Citizen Intelligence Report

May 6, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alison Hermansen
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Ms. Dominique Ollivier has released on May 5 the 2014 Annual Report of the Office de Consultation Publique de Montréal. This is the first report for which Ms. Ollivier is Chair of the OCPM. Following in the footsteps of Louise Roy, the previous Chair, Ms. Ollivier has taken her mandate to promote best practices in public consultation to heart, implementing measures to connect with as many citizens as possible, from all walks of life.

On May 5, the OCPM plays an irreplaceable role in the evolution of democratic life. Thanks to the implementation of best practices in public consultation, the city's public consultation board stimulates reflection by diverse communities of interest, adapting technological tools and mobilizing social networks to better reach out and consult with citizens.

With these consultation efforts, the OCPM has explored new ways to make consultation efforts more accessible and easier to use for citizens. Given this objective, in 2014 it used innovative communication tools both new technologies and facilitation techniques.

Successful transition to digital

This year, the OCPM explored ways to maximize the contributions of citizen intelligence to Montréal projects and policies. In February 2014, the Wikicité conference allowed the OCPM to take a few steps toward redefining public consultation in an era of digital technologies.

A partnership with the municipal Bureau de la Ville Intelligente et Numérique last fall also helped the Office refine its positions on important questions. Finally, several mechanisms to simulate citizen participation in the smart city were tested during a participatory process to develop and adopt a Special Planning Program for the Plateau Est employment sector. It was concluded that the use of digital tools, such as augmented reality and 3D models, provides significant added value to more traditional public consultation methods.

Supporting groups at risk of being excluded

While inarguably becoming increasingly important, the use of digital methods raises a number of challenges. The first is the digital divide and the resultant risk of exclusion. Consequently, it was important for the OCPM to diversify new and existing methods in order to reach more fragile public groups and, to allow a diversity of points of view to be expressed. This issue will be a priority in 2015 and new tools will be launched to respond to these needs.

Improving participation of people from immigrant backgrounds

In addition, the OCPM has started to revise its strategies in order to better reach out to people from immigrant backgrounds, particularly those who have moved here recently. Publications in accessible language have been produced which the OCPM plans to distribute widely, through francization centres and literacy centres in order to make its mission better known to groups who have traditionally participated less in consultation sessions. Moreover, efforts have already begun to diversify the ethnocultural origins of OCPM commissioners, efforts that have been illustrated by recent appointments made by City Council (http://cnw.ca/x4qgL).

The full version of the Annual Report is available on the OCPM web site. Note that the great majority of copies will be distributed on USB keys, limiting the number of paper copies, with their material and environmental costs. In addition, an abridged version, available at report2014.ocpm.qc.ca, was designed to be readable on mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones. Another way the OCPM is maximizing distribution of its message.