The Seoul Innovation Bureau (SIB) is the first of its kind in Asia. What characterises this agency is the desire to include citizens in both the design and the execution of public policies. Mayor Park Won-Soon believes that many of the current problems are the consequence of a capitalist society governed by exacerbated consumerism and individualism. Therefore, many of the projects promoted by the innovation office have to do with the circular, social and collaborative economy.
SIB has run projects related to increasing rent prices, youth unemployment and improving medical care. In the initial phase of each project, SIB asks for ideas and proposals from the citizens and then works with the relevant city council departments to put them into practice. During the execution of the projects, the office organises workshops and meetings between residents and the government to co-create solutions. It also supports other departments of the city council in the design and execution of programs and policies.
Citizen consultation is conducted both online via their platform as well as offline. Some of the inspiring initiatives launched by the Seoul Innovation Bureau include:
- Speaker's Corner: a place reserved within the city council for citizens to share their concerns and proposals for improving the city via video. These videos are then published on the Seoul City Council website.
- Temporary town councils: civil servants go on site visits in various communities to talk to people, understand issues first hand and bring public administration closer to citizens.
- Open workshops: open meetups in which politicians, civil servants and citizens participate to public debate on policies.
- Expo Ideas: an annual event involving more than 30,000 people with the goal of capturing ideas and proposals from citizens over a few days. In the last edition, more than 1,000 citizen proposals were recorded.
- Participatory budget: citizens participate in decision making on budgetary spending. By 2016, 250 randomly selected residents participated in debating and deciding how to spend 19.4 million euros, 2% of the city's budget.
In two years (between 2012 and 2014), the Office of Innovation held 6,000 open workshops involving more than 600,000 citizens. Since 2012, a new citizen culture has been emerging based on the exchange of resources and services.
Seoul Innovation Bureau
SIB aims to transform the the way local government works, making it participatory, agile and innovative.