Participatory methods


TITLE: “RIVAPARTECIPA 2018”- A participatory budget initiative


The inhabitants of “Riva del Garda”, a township in northern Italy, had the opportunity to present and vote their own proposals in order to invest the 100.000,00 Euros that the municipality set apart in its budget to finance this initiative.

This specific participatory budget project, known as “Rivapartecipa 2018”, dealt with the involvement of local citizens into the decision process of the government of this municipality.

It was a “participatory budget” experimentation, the first implemented by using this participative method around the Italian Trentino region.


“Rivapartecipa”  combined the use of a web platform and more traditional involvement methods (e.g. press releases and public meeting) to catch the attention of local residents, in order to convince and help more people to present and vote proposals suitable to use the budget at disposal.

A dedicated web platform, open to the public, was developed to present the proposals and allow the on-line vote process among those that had been admitted to the final stage of the project (some of the proposals were rejected  after a more in-depth scrutiny by the urban and administrative technicians of the municipality).

The technology focused on reusing an existing web platform, so that the implementation  required a small development of specific software and the addition of some  web pages to handle with the on-line vote.  Upload of information have been made available to the public officers via a CRM.

Interaction among citizens and the administration were carried on via email or face-to-face meetings and calls, while little or no use of social networks have been involved in the project.


“RivaPartecipa  2018” was broken down in a sequence of phases, of which the last one is yet to be concluded (as for January 2019).

Started in November 2017 with the allocation of financial resources, the process went on the following January 2018 with the first stages of public meetings and press releases to involve local population. By mid-February 2018, a set of 13 proposals had been submitted by distinct groups of citizens, of which only 4 were in the end admitted to the final vote.

On-line voting lasted from June 13th to June 30th 2018, resulting in a total of 87 valid votes. When the virtual polling station closed, fewer than 0,6% of the eligible resident population had cast its vote. This was a small percentage, less than expected, and was subject to specific evaluation in the follow-up of the overall experience.


The winning proposal, “Laying stumbling blocks in the municipality territory in remembrance of the partisans, anti-fascist and Jewish people killed in 1944-45”, obtained 43,67% of the preferences and is now undergoing further technical scrutiny by the municipal offices in order to start the final stage of the actual implementation. Construction works are deemed to start in 2019.

The role of URBAN INNO Trento Pilot at this stage was to support, monitor and evaluate the whole process, helping the various stakeholders to assess their work, analyze pro and cons of what was implemented and to help them gaining the experience needed to adjust the process for the next edition of the project, which will be held in 2019.


Over the course of the various activities, great effort was given by the employees of the municipality. The Mayor and his government, for this first pilot experience, decided to rely almost entirely on internal workforce to accomplish the tasks.

Therefore, there were a great deal of lessons learned for the future that the employees have recognized, treasured and discussed together with URBAN INNO Trento in order to improve in the next edition.

Among these:

The importance of being more specific when defining the scope of the proposals that can be collected from the population

The need to balance between on-line and physical presence-based participation, in order to foster an in-depth collaborative dialogue about the needs of the community, preliminary to the presentation of the proposals.

The value of a more reasonable and longer time to carry out the participative process to the benefit of both the citizens and the municipality’s offices

The need to implement a powerful and creative communication campaign, aimed at stimulating active participation and to accompany the initiative throughout all its phases. Alongside the more traditional tools of institutional communication, it may also be useful to introduce more innovative forms both on the web and on the territory

The opportunity to support public officials with an expert facilitator in the co-management of the participatory budget, especially through the activation of targeted training sessions

The positive effect of introducing moments of co-projecting between inhabitants and technicians, in the initial phases of the development of the proposals

The possibility of reusing and expanding the web platform developed for the pilot project by  integrating it to ANPR (Italian web-based national registry of citizens), so as to further speed up the  voting phase  and enhance the reliability of the whole system.