City of Velika Gorica (Croatia) created an innovative application that allows citizens to make online suggestions for changing spatial plans using their mobile phones or home computer without additional administrative procedures such as: obtaining various documents, visiting public institutions (covid-19 crisis + reducing CO2 emissions for not using cars + preserving the environment and saving money on paper + losing time). The new application is an additional module of the existing GIS (Geographic Information System) that enables full digitalization of the process of proposing changes to spatial plans.
The City of Velika Gorica recognized the advantages of using the webGIS (Geo) system in the entire business, and in 2014 the system was implemented with its own funds. In the following years, the City of Velika Gorica upgraded the webGIS system for reviewing and managing part of the spatial data (unclassified roads, real estate register, waste management, communal infrastructure, line cadastre, reports of communal problems by citizens via mobile applications, etc.).
The new application was made on the basis of previous problems and experiences gained by citizens, employees of public institutions and experts themselves. Citizens expressed dissatisfaction with the large amount of administration when making proposals, employees of the institution wasted a lot of time in clarifying the administrative procedure while the experts themselves did not have a quality "feed-back" by the citizens themselves.
The public welcomed this type of submitting proposals to change spatial plans as well as employees of public institutions. With this type of contribution from the citizens in a timely manner, spatial planners can adjust plans to public opinion before public debate which saves a lot of time for all stakeholders of this process.
The most innovative part of the project is the fact that with this project the city of Velika has been the first city in Croatia to offer this type of service to citizens. Also, they provided the citizens easier access to spatial planning documentation, allowing them better and simpler communication with the city authorities with almost no financial costs for the citizens. At the end, all citizens' participation through new applications will ultimately culminate in online participation in the public debate.
The innovative application/solution can be replicated in other sectors as well.
- It has easy access (requires only an Internet connection),
- universality (it is possible to manage all types of spatial data),
- it's easy to use (user-oriented interface for citizens on the public portal and public employees)
- and unlimited system users.
- It is possible to extract all the data in different formats and send it to other institutions or to open the access to this system to selected employees of the institutions. So, it is good for small and big systems (large base of users).
The new solution (application) has been in use since 2019 and it has reduced citizen arrivals in the City Department for Urbanism and environmental protection, reduced spending paper, increased communication online, increased the number of suggestions from the citizens, has increased citizen participation in making important decisions for the development of the city, but also increased the quality of life of all stakeholders involved in the process.
The application is actively used and so far, has not required technological improvements, additional financial expenses and has not had any problems within the GIS system itself. We receive positive comments from citizens for ease of use application, as well as from experts who receive more (quality) suggestions than before using innovative solutions.
The mentioned GIS system is regularly supplemented with new spatial plans and other official documentation, all in order to provide a better insight to all stakeholders and which will all ultimately culminate in online participation in a public hearing.
By further upgrading the GIS system, the City of Velika Gorica wants to confirm and continue with an innovative and effective approach to managing regular activities of the City, city property and city projects, but this time with emphasis on additional involvement of citizens in spatial planning.
Finally, there will be an increase in the productivity of City employees due to the reduction in the number of citizens who come to the city administration for information that is now publicly available on the City's website, and thus eliminate the possibility of potential costs of hiring additional staff.
It is considered that spatial planning must be public and transparent but with the involvement of a whole range of stakeholders (especially citizens and experts). Administrative procedures have so far made it difficult for citizens to contribute to spatial planning. With this project, various stakeholders have been involved in a simple (and above all inexpensive) way. Namely, only an internet connection and a mobile phone are needed and each person can give their suggestion. Also, this solution facilitates the work of employees of public institutions who can more easily receive proposals from various stakeholders, while not wasting resources of paper, fuel and similar.
In the end, the cost of the experience (creating innovative app/solution) which was realized in the amount of HRK 243,250.00 (approximately EUR 32,500) with VAT, is justified in many ways because it primarily includes the impact on all citizens of the City (and beyond) by simple access to information using modern technologies, and additionally supports other strategic projects of the City in their records and marketing presentation to citizens and potential investors.
The information has been disseminated among the citizens through City website, local newspapers (also national newspapers when the City won the award in the category "Smart Administration" organized by the Poslovni dnevnik (national newspaper) "Smart Cities - Cities of the Future 2019").
The main goal was to increase the number of submitted proposals before opening the public debate. This was measured in numbers so the number of submitted proposals in just one month after realising this e-service has increased by 700% monthly basis. Of the proposals received, 85% were received in digital form (July 2019).
The average annual number of proposals submitted before the introduction of the e-service was: 40. The number of submitted proposals in 2020 was 191, and there are already 54 proposals in the year of 2021 by this date.
Based on continual growth in these numbers, it is visible that this way of submitting proposals to changing of spatial plans was well accepted by the public.
Guideline for citizens