Broad participation is the key to any democracy worthy of the name. A simple but powerful tool called CitySandbox aims to make meaningful participation easier for everyone, starting in the city of Berkeley. The Social Apps Lab @ CITRIS launched the map-based website (which is still in a beta version) to bridge the gap between local neighborhood knowledge and larger political institutions.

Berkeley city council member Gordon Wozniak hopes to employ CitySandbox to strengthen participation around Berkeley, especially among students who are accustomed to using their computers and phones to engage.

Constituents using CitySandbox can flag sites on the map and pose questions to other users. Other users can reply with answers to questions and they can also pose “challenges”. Users can then upload proposals and vote on them. The website platform lets users create “events,” such as organizing a meeting with a city council member to present their plans.