Digital tools are increasingly used by urban decision-makers to engage with citizens. This user-centred enquiry will look at the evidence, desirability, feasibility and options for digital democratic innovations. We are specifically interested in digital innovations which support citizen engagement in policy initiation and design, and seek to understand more about the different expectations, hopes, and values that lead to the uptake of digital technology in democratic decision-making.


GM Decides has four objectives at its core:

  1. Evidence: to review different kinds and examples of digital democratic innovations to shape the scope of the project; review evidence of the effectiveness and use of different technologies;
  2. Desirability: to assess the understanding, enthusiasm, awareness, hopes, and assumptions made by a breadth of stakeholders in GM;
  3. Feasibility: to develop shared learning and understanding of the potential for digital democratic innovations;
  4. Options: to produce a demand-led set of recommendations and identification of specific options for the use of digital democratic innovations at GM level.

Research questions

Our project explores the following questions:

  1. What is meant by a digital democratic innovation? What evidence and examples exists on the effectiveness and use of digital technology in policy initiation and design?
  2. What perceptions do GM citizens have of the value, usefulness, potential roles of digital technology in supporting citizen engagement? What conditions are required for citizens In Greater Manchester to feel able to participate in such innovations? What are the limits to the use of digital technologies? How does the broader policy-making context need to change to support the use of digital technologies?
  3. What are the barriers and opportunities? How can barriers be overcome? What is needed to take advantage of opportunities? How can formal institutions be supported to develop and embed digital technologies?
  4. Where are the concrete possibilities to introduce digital democratic innovations here in GM? What would this look like? How could these opportunities be mobilised?


In our exploration of these questions, GM Decides will draw lessons from an international advisory group, work with a partnership group to ground these lessons in a city-regional context and conduct a series of public input sessions to harvest knowledge, seed ideas and nurture a network of people interested in digital democratic innovation. The delivery partners for this project are Katie Finney of Amity and Alice Toomer-McAlpine with At The Moment Productions. To find out more about this project, email our ARC members Katie and Alice.

News, events and blog

Realising Just Cities conference logo, superimposed on an image of Cape Town, South Africa

The Realising Just Cities programme is supporting peer learning visits to Cape Town and Barcelona for public sector strategists and community practitioners from Greater Manchester, to expand their knowledge of co-productive practices and participatory democracy in other urban settings. 

Mistra Urban Futures in Cape Town and IOPD in Barcelona

Academic and practitioner researchers are travelling to Cape Town and Barcelona in November to share collective insights from the Jam and Justice project, as part of a delegation from the Realising Just Cities programme. They will be joined by strategy and policy leads from Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), who seek to learn more about co-production for urban governance and participatory decision-making.