Transport and mobility / Social Media to boost participatory processes


References are provided in two different approaches:

  • E-participation
  • ECAS approach

Who needs to act?

Municipalities, citizens, SMEs and civil society (associations, NGOs, etc.) Who is affected?


A kit of measures including on-line tools, Apps and social media initiatives is designed, developed and implemented so as to boost the quality and quantity of participation from citizens and organizations in Mobility and Energy savings Plans promoted by the Municipality. Deployment of a Social Media App protocol, designed to boost citizenship participation in SUMP and SEAP/SECAV processes, including on-line surveys, presentation of results, videos and discussion of previous experiences in other municipalities. Only existing resources are to be used, and no dedicated App has to be designed.


Range of investment: from 2,000 to 5,000 EUR. Type of costs: human resources, equipment, app license fee, software, costs for promotion.

Return of investment

The investment return is measured in significant increases of social participation along the SUMP/SEAP processes.

Other resources to be used

  • Available specifically oriented apps:
    • General
    • Specific participatory apps
  • Smartphones (owned by users)
  • GPS devices (owned by users)

Available tools

General apps

  • Facebook: How to create a poll on Facebook
  • Twitter: How to create a poll on Twitter
  • LinkedIn: How to create a group

Specific participatory apps

  • GPS tracker: Search for ‘Route tracker Apps’ in internet and Playstore. There is a wide range of options from free Apps to Licensed ones, offering different features and applications.
  • Specifically designed for the process: The cost of designing and developing a specific App depends on the desired features and scope. Some Apps already designed to be used by cities in previous projects can be consulted and used (Smartcitizen).

Main steps of implementation

Once the general plan for SUMP/SEAP implementation has been drafted, we design the protocol for participation:

1- Main elements:

  • Information/data:
    • What do we need to know?
    • What do we want to communicate and share?
  • Stakeholders:
    • Identification
    • Characterization
  • Deadlines, resources, other

2- Participatory process protocol:

  • Link every type of stakeholder (ST) to the specific pack of information (Info) and data required and/or delivered (STx∼Infox).
  • Link the previous groupings to the most suitable communication format (CT) and tool (STx∼Infox∼CTx)
  • Draft a diagram of all communication actions of the process stating every group and scheduling each stage of the process

3- Social Media Use for the Participatory Process

Prior to define the Social Media use, we must understand that every communication tool has a specific and optimal use for delivering information to citizens and encouraging participation:

  • Common guidelines for all them will be:
    • The language used in the communication with citizens will always be clear and understandable and will be adapted to different target groups.
    • Information will be accessible attending to any special needs of the audience (subtitled videos, audio files…)
    • Coordinate actions on social media with traditional formats, in order to reach a wider audience, especially those not engaged in social media, so they can enter the debate through ordinary channels (contacting municipality’s help desks, mail, …
    • When approaching general public through social media, it will be important not only to inform about the process and its stages but also to entertain and educate the users.
    • Attractive design and visual content, competitions, events calendar and posts that start a dialogue, will help to boost the participation.
  • Social Media optimal use
    • Municipality Web Portal/link devoted to the specific topic. Most effective tool for gathering all information related to SUMP/SEAP development and present the channels that will enable citizens to participate in the process.
    • Best for: linking and keeping updated all participation activities with information about the process in the official site.
    • LinkedIn: Optimal tool to create a group of technical experts and professionals in the field to provide suggestions, ideas and opinions through the participatory process. It can also be used as a consultation hub for the municipality, and as a previous step to the wider public participation in social media (Twitter and Facebook). Users participating in this group will also benefit for an active involvement in municipality issues in their profile account that could be certified by the municipality for their curriculum vitae, if their participation meets the requirements set for that purpose. Best for: Involving trained professionals and qualified audience participation.
    • Twitter: Optimal tool to:
      • Engage several influencers and trendsetting users on sharing the information about the process and encouraging citizens to participate in other media polls or discussions (like celebrities endorsement to the participatory process).
      • Recommend sites and experts profiles to follow for those interested in the specific and other related topics.
      • Host simple polls through “likes” and retweets.
      • Promote other tools used by the municipality in the participatory process.

Best for: Persuading the audience to participate through influent users and link other communication activities.

  • Facebook: Most active way to make a public and open call for citizens to express their opinions and suggest ideas all along the process. The language used in this tool shall be informal and aimed at engaging general public. It presents opportunities for massive dissemination being particularly useful for sharing polls and questionnaires, collecting opinions and rising discussions. Posts that start a dialogue by questions or a “fill in the blanks” increase significantly the participation of users. Tip: the topic of discussion may sometimes be lost or tangled with public opinion about other issues. The manager of the Facebook profile will have to redirect the conversation to the matter in discussion. However, the management activity on Facebook, should also be flexible with negative comments, and let users interact about the issue.

Best for: Engaging the community as a whole and encouraging massive participation.

  • This information combined with socioeconomic data will allow the characterization of different types of users.
  • Specific apps adapted for citizen participation: Whether specifically designed or adapting an existing one by the municipality: some municipalities opt for creating their own app, so that it includes the features selected by the municipality. Since it may require a larger budget, the option of adapting an existing App or using one which already fits to the Municipality needs is recommended.

Expected results

  • Large and fruitful citizen participation and engagement in the process
  • Useful and segmented information about activities
  • Enhanced credibility
  • Community acceptance of future actions

Contribution to SEAP & indicators

  • Direct mean to gather information related to consumers, citizen use of resources and opinions regarding energy use, Climate Change and sustainability.
  • Indirect mean to promote awareness, inform citizens and raise acceptance of future actions which could have been conflicting.

How to integrate in SEAP?

The whole measure scheme is applicable to any public open process, so it can be directly applied to a SEAP/SECAV process.

Contribution to SUMP & indicators

  • Direct mean to gather information related to mobility, citizen use transportation habits, and opinions regarding urban mobility, urban wellbeing and sustainability.
  • Indirect mean to promote awareness, inform citizens and raise acceptance of future actions which could have been conflicting.

How to integrate in SUMP?

The whole measure scheme is applicable to any public open process, so it can be directly applied to a SUMP process

Lessons learned

It is hard to determine concrete lessons learned for this type of initiatives since they respond to very specific cases and environments which may be very different from others. However, a few relevant points which are frequently observed are the following ones:

  • The level of participation at citizen level increases dramatically.
  • It is a very good system to bring in unexpected issues and needs.
  • Continuous feedback and monitoring are essential actions which must be integral part of the initiative.
  • Proper and extensive communication are crucial, especially concerning security and confidentiality.