Helsinki is a pioneer in public participation and interaction by global standards. Attention to citizens, transparent decision-making and development of City operations by means of service design are some of Helsinki’s established practices, which advance sustainable development in the city.
Helsinki emphasizes citizen wellbeing and equality, cooperation and everyday action
Helsinki supports and enables citizen activities and creates equal opportunities for all to participate. According to the principles of service design, City operations and services are developed by making use of the competencies and expertise of citizens and the users of City services.
Key roles are played by places of encounters and activities in residential areas, including resident centres, service centres, libraries, schools and public playgrounds. City spaces and premises have been opened more and more for citizen activities in recent years. School sports facilities are available for evening activities, and public playground facilities are rented to citizens and organizations on weekends.
Borough liaisons as citizens' ambassadors
The City cooperates closely with local resident associations in city districts. Each district is served by a borough liaison tasked to promote public participation. Borough liaisons advance citizen initiatives, make the voices of people in the district heard, and help local networks to link with each other.
The citizens of Helsinki can also participate electronically. Helsinki maintains an efficient feedback system, which allows everybody to ask questions and to express concerns about any affair of the City. The City’s Kerro kartalla maptionnaire – a map-based online questionnaire – is used in a variety of surveys including those organized in conjunction with area development projects.
Residents can decide on City's budget
One concrete public participation method is participatory budgeting. The City allocates 4.4 million euros of the City budget annually for the implementation of ideas proposed by Helsinki residents. Residents can vote on proposals, and the most popular ones are implemented.
According to the Local Government Act, Helsinki residents can propose initiatives on City affairs. The easiest way to do so is online through the Kuntalaisaloite.fi citizen initiative channel. City Councillors are informed at least once a year about initiatives proposed by Helsinki residents that fall within the City Council’s sphere of operations. Councillors are also informed about the activities prompted by the initiatives.