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Participation and Interaction Model

The City of Helsinki’s Participation and Interaction Model seeks to promote resident know-how and knowledge. Building a better Helsinki together – with as many diverse voices represented as possible – is one of the city’s main priorities.

Helsinki invites its residents and cooperation partners to join in the development of the city by improving and diversifying its neighbourhoods and services. Helsinki is above all a community, a setting for influential events and important encounters.
Municipal decision-making is open and participatory. A functional service culture and interactive communications contribute to a positive city atmosphere and urban experience.

Helsinki residents can participate and influence municipal activities by brainstorming ideas for and voting in the participatory budgeting initiative, sending the city feedback, using the Varaamo booking system and taking part in volunteer opportunities. Borough liaisons that represent each of Helsinki’s major districts promote citizen involvement throughout the city.

Video: Tussitaikurit Oy / Marker Wizards Ltd.

Helsinki’s binding principles

Participation principles have been written into the administrative rules of the City of Helsinki, which means they extend to the entire municipal organisation. These principles are the utilisation of individual and community knowledge and expertise, the enabling of citizen-initiated activities, and the creation of equal opportunities for participation.

Promoting involvement in practice

The Participation and Interaction Model is reflected in all municipal operations, across each of the city’s units, as a more diverse range of opportunities for citizen participation and influence. Each city division has its own committee-approved participation plan, the progress and activities of which are monitored and reported on regularly. The implementation of the programme is also followed closely as part of the Helsinki City Strategy.

Advocacy groups provide valuable input

Finland’s laws on local government require its municipalities to maintain councils that represent persons with disabilities and the elderly, in addition to a youth council or equivalent youth advocacy group. In addition to these, the City of Helsinki also has an equality and non-discrimination committee. The city utilises the expertise and skills of these advisory bodies in its efforts to promote equal participation.

Volunteer activity model makes it easy to lend a hand

Helsinki will also create a new volunteer activity model that will collect information on volunteer work opportunities in the city in one convenient place. Experts in the development of volunteer activities from the city’s culture and leisure division will also support and promote volunteer activity in each of the divisions. The city will join with Helsink’s many organisations to add more opportunities for volunteer activity.

Opening up city venues to the public

The basic rule at the City of Helsinki is that every one of the city’s venues is easily and safely accessible to the public. An effort has been made to open up even more municipal facilities to broader public use by making it easier to book premises and equipment for personal use, and creating uniform and clear conditions for doing so. An online service for booking municipal premises is available at varaamo.hel.fi

Keeping decision-making transparent

The City of Helsinki is a global pioneer when it comes to open data. Open data promotes transparent decision-making and promotes participation and trust in municipal activities.

Expanding our digital reach

Effective digital channels that encourage participation support citizen involvement and make it easier for broad components of society to actively contribute to municipal activities.

Each of the following citywide digital services uses an open source code and interface that works across all electronic devices.

Boosting regional involvement with participatory budgeting, borough liaisons and business liaisons

Participatory budgeting turns resident ideas into reality

In participatory budgeting, Helsinki residents come up with ideas for improving their neighbourhoods with city funds and then vote on which ideas to bring to fruition, in accordance with an appropriation approved by the city council. The first round of participatory budgeting in the city took place in 2018-2019, when residents submitted over one thousand proposals for how to use an earmarked sum of 4.4 million euros. The ambitious project is named OmaStadi (MyCity) and the proposals and voting took place on the omastadi.hel.fi digital platform.

Every resident of the city can propose ideas, after which the authors join with city experts to develop feasible proposals.
All residents over the age of 12 are eligible to vote, giving young people a concrete opportunity to participate in municipal decision-making each year and in general supporting the new core curriculum for comprehensive schools.

All residents over the age of 12 are eligible to vote, giving young people a concrete opportunity to participate in municipal decision-making each year and in general supporting the new core curriculum for comprehensive schools.

The budget for the initiative is divided among the major districts of Helsinki according to their populations. One-fifth of the sum is reserved for proposals that would affect the entire city. Along every stage of the process, the city and its residents jointly arrange events to support the initiative and citizen involvement.

Participatory budgeting has been carried out for the last 30 years in over 1,500 cities and municipalities the world over. Helsinki’s webpages for the initiative omastadi.hel.fi were created on an open source digital platform known as Decidim, which is also used for participatory budgeting in a dozen or so other European cities, including Barcelona, Paris and Stockholm.

Borough liaisons activate locals

Each of Helsinki’s major districts has an appointed borough liaison to help residents and communities promote local initiatives and municipal development suggestions. Each of these City of Helsinki employees does regular outreach work into the area they serve.

Borough liaisons further cooperation between the city, its residents and various organisations. Each of the regional forums are planned together with the residents, keeping the needs of the local community and the city in mind. The borough liaisons are also responsible for supporting equal involvement in the participatory budgeting process in their respective areas.

Business liaisons help companies gain momentum

Business liaisons work as promoters and accelerators of business activities in different areas of the city by speeding up company initiatives and boosting commercial and employment opportunities in Helsinki regions.

More information in Finnish (pdf):



29.05.2020 17:35