Active Citizen – increasing political participation with Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality

Active Citizen, a CHEST Call 3 winner from Citizens Foundation (Iceland), confronts the trend observed in Europe of a decrease in political participation, by using state-of-the-art technology to make participation simple, fast and interesting.

Active Citizen will take civic participation to the next level by empowering citizens with their own artificial intelligence algorithms and using a virtual reality interface. These will give citizens notifications and relevant information when they need it, for example by notifying them about opportunities to participate, helping them to research the issues at stake and connecting people with similar ideas and priorities to each other. Active Citizen meets the needs of the modern lifestyle and responds to the current democratic challenges.

The project team conducted a number of user interviews and email surveys on the notifications of another project – Your Priorities – to build on this in the Active Citizen project. The data gathered from this was analysed and the results were used for a number of purposes: to answer the research questions, to make personas and map a customer journey, and for design requirements.

The research questions were categorised (e.g. people, participation) and included:

  • Which groups should be targeted specifically?
  • What form of participation is it most important to increase?
  • What time span should a participation process have?
  • When do people want to be engaged in their participation processes?
  • What type of notifications do people want to receive?
  • What is meaningful for people of a certain target group?

The 2 personas created initially are “The Changemaker” and “The Observer”, which are shown in the images below. These personas will be used throughout the design process to continuously verify if the design of the notifications fits the envisioned target group.


The participation process of each of the personas is visualised in a customer journey map (see image below), which shows the different type and level of participation at various stages of the process. With each peak the type of notification and the medium it is sent through is indicated.


The notifications that were derived from the customer journey map and selected for design were:

  • Email upon registration
  • In-app invitation to participate
  • Weekly/monthly email report
  • Daily in-app debate report
  • In-app election notification (one idea)
  • Email election report (summary of multiple decisions)
  • In-app result notification (one idea)
  • Email result report (summary of multiple results)

The notifications received, and the frequency of them, will depend on which persona a user has.

The next stage of work is the coding and testing of notifications with the target group. Citizens Foundation released the first developer version of Active Citizen on 29/02/2016. In the next couple of weeks Citizens Foundation also plan an open beta of Your Priorities that is using Active Citizen. In April/May they plan to launch Better Reykjavík, Better Iceland and the Your Priorities service with the new version of Your Priorities and Active Citizen to over 20,000 registered users!

To find out more about Active Citizen you can visit the official Citizens Foundation website:

You can also view GitHub archive for Active Citizen:

You can also follow Citizen Foundation on Twitter (@CitizensFNDN) and Facebook (/