Unlocking the potential of immersive technologies and participatory democracy: the MEDIUM Training of Trainers in Lousada 

Apr 15, 2024

Impegno dei cittadini Gender, Inclusion & Human rights

The recent Training of Trainers of the Erasmus+ MEDIUM project allowed us to discover the possibilities that innovation and technologies may bring to citizen engagement. Hosted by the Municipality of Lousada (Portugal) and guided by experts from ALDA+ and CSUV, this training was held on March 26-27 and marked a significant milestone in fostering participatory democracy and also uncovering the role of immersive technologies.

The MEDIUM Training of Trainers involved ALDA+ and CSUV, Municipality of Lousada and Municipality of Etterbeek (Belgium), members of ALDA.

Over the course of two days, four local civil servants from Lousada and Etterbeek joined and shared this journey

The first part was dedicated to participatory democracy practices and their implementation in local contexts. Participants had the unique opportunity to explore the role that citizen and stakeholder involvement plays in our democratic systems, while analysing the transformative potential that digital tools already have in the public sphere. This session was enlivened by interactive and engaging exercises in which participants and trainers shared their opinions and insights from their experience in local contexts, thus fostering a multidimensional and multi-stakeholder exchange.

On the other hand, in the second part of the training sessions, with the guidance of the CSUV, participants had the opportunity to actively engage with immersive technologies, trying out VR viewers and experiencing first-hand what virtual realms and the Metaverse can offer. Navigating these new possibilities and tools allowed them to imagine technologies as a way to foster the accessibility and intuitiveness of public services.

However, the journey did not end in Lousada. In fact, the trained participants will now be responsible to share their knowledge and skills in local training workshops to empower colleagues within their local communities. This cascading effect would eventually translate into citizen consultations and local events , where citizens themselves would become agents of change and brainstorm together with local authorities on how to integrate these tools within local communities to better promote innovation and adapt it to their needs.

Overall, this training of trainers within the MEDIUM project was only the starting point towards a more inclusive, engaged and technologically empowered society. It is indeed important to remind ourselves of the challenges that technologies can bring, but also how their use can have a significant and positive impact on our lives. Together, it is important that we continue to work on the potential of digital technologies and use them to engage citizens and enable the principles of local participatory democracy.