Polis platform experiments

Polis is an open-source online platform designed to enable a constructive exchange of opinions around a given topic. Sitra is introducing this democracy innovation in Finland in co-operation with DigiFinland.

What is it about?

In recent decades, digitalisation and social media have entailed a strong promise of democracy. The internet was thought to improve access to information and the exchange of ideas in a way that would also revolutionise participation in social debate and decision-making.

Recently, however, the transformation of the media environment has been seen as a threat to the foundations of democracy. Social debate on social media channels is often polarising, partly because the underlying logic of social media platforms specifically favours controversial opinions.

Although digitalisation has transformed the world in many other ways, there has been little innovation in the field of democracy. A Sitra survey shows that Finns are interested in agile, anonymous and digital ways of getting involved in and influencing decision-making.

Polis is an open-source online platform designed to enable large groups to engage constructively on a chosen topic. In Polis, participants can anonymously express their views on the arguments presented on a topic and submit their own formulated arguments to the discussion for others to vote on.

Polis uses advanced statistical analysis to produce real-time data on where participants agree and differ. The possibility to influence question-setting in their own words distinguishes Polis from the usual survey tools and gives initiative to the participants.

What do we do?

Sitra is funding an experimental project implemented by DigiFinland to enable the use of the Polis platform in Finland. DigiFinland is a special-assignment company that promotes the digitalisation of public administration.

We also fund and support Polis experiments at different levels of government. Polis will initially be tested in a few wellbeing services counties aimed at increasing residents’ opportunities to participate and influence decision-making in their area. We will raise awareness of the use of the platform and how to link discussions on the platform to formal decision-making in government.

The experiences of the regions participating in the Polis experiment will be shared with other regions in the Democracy Theme Group led by Sitra so that workable methods can be more widely adopted.

Where are we now?

A digital infrastructure and relevant translations for the Polis platform will be in place in early 2023. The first technical experiment will be carried out at this time, and the trials in the wellbeing services counties will start in the spring. Possibilities for testing the Polis platform will be explored during spring 2023.

Who is involved?

Polis was developed by the Computational Democracy Project, a US-based non-profit organisation. Sitra is introducing Polis in Finland in co-operation with DigiFinland, which is responsible for technical implementation and service provision.

Contact us

Joonas Leppänen
Senior Lead, New forms of participation
Sanna-Kaisa Saloranta
Project Coordinator, New forms of participation

What's this about?