Cluj Napoca is one of most forward thinking cities in Romania, often called the Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe due to its large IT industry. Its ambition to become a genuine smart city started to drive the interest of both citizens and entrepreneurs, two categories that require authorities to be more open and transparent in their governance.
In the majority of cases, a smart city strategy includes the idea of transparent governance, involving different stakeholders in the decision-making process and creating an environment where ideas can grow and be put to practice. Given its IT rich business environment, the City of Cluj has the potential to provide digital solutions for a number of issues.
One of the solutions for a transparent governance has recently been launched in Cluj-Napoca and is called Digital Democracy App. We wanted to know more about the product, what it means for its developers, as well as for the community and how will it transform the interaction between stakeholders.
What is Digital Democracy App and what is it intended to achieve?
Digital Democracy App is the place where tomorrow happens today! We are bringing the advantages of technology into democracy, civic participation, decision making and networking. Our product is a tool that people can use to make the change they want to see in their local community. We strongly believe that the best forms of democracy start locally, where communities can strengthen themselves by working together. Our product is not only an App, it’s a statement reinforcing that people need a tool for working together and fortifying their impact on society.
For whom did you design the app?
Digital Democracy App is designed for people. We are building the app around the needs of Citizens, Companies, Public Institutions and NGOs. Another great thing about those who pre-register for the App which will be launched in June 2017, is that on our platform they are not just users, they are Ambassadors of Democracy. For most of the apps on the market, the people using their products are mere numbers and stats; for us, the Ambassadors of Democracy are those who will make the world a better place.
How do you expect to transform the lives of the people in Cluj?
Cluj-Napoca is an amazing city with cool people and we are building a product based on their needs. The people in Cluj-Napoca will have the possibility to make a real-life change in their community with the help of our App, all depending on their participation. We believe that people need a simple, transparent and user-friendly platform to structure and connect their ideas while receiving the needed support to make those ideas happen.
Where and when did the need for such a product emerge?
The concept for the product was born in the beginning of 2016 in Cluj-Napoca, when Alex, our Founder & CEO, realised that there is no clear way for local stakeholders to work together as one. In this sense, there was a lot of development potential which was lost, as people have been using time and resources to identify partners looking for help for their initiatives. Digital Democracy App allows people to connect and work, which can mean anything from cleaning a local park to submitting proposals for a new children’s hospital in one of the neighbourhoods.
What differentiates Digital Democracy App from the city hall’s My Cluj App?
The App developed by the City of Cluj-Napoca is a great initiative. It proves that there is forward-thinking mentality and the fact that Cluj-Napoca is involved in becoming a smart city. We believe that My Cluj App has a different vision with specific goals which are different from our app. While they focus on specific issues that people encounter, we focus on giving people a tool which they can use to solve problems, not only identify and report them. However, we strongly believe that the birth of such initiatives is an amazing example of the fact that Cluj-Napoca is strengthening its position as the Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe, where people are open to change and innovation.