Paper holds everything, the Internet all multiplied by a thousand


Politics has to do with decision-making in a certain area, that is why we speak of “company policy” or “foreign policy”. There are different decision-making mechanisms, which are related to the type of political regime and the type of decisions to be made, and this is the first point to clarify. In making decisions about a Tourist Infrastructure Plan, the agents that usually intervene are more from the construction sector than from the sector that is usually considered “tourist”. In other words, a tourist infrastructure plan has to do with issues such as whether to pedestrianize a street, build and / or reform promenades, give help for the rehabilitation of tourist complexes and / or build infrastructures for tourists to access the points that are of interest to you. The same professionals, such as architects or engineers, who design the reforms of our cities, and the same companies (construction companies) that undertake works such as the closure of the island ring in Tenerife, the La Aldea road in Gran Canaria, or the Chira power plant- Soria are the ones who could potentially participate in a tourism infrastructure plan.

Once the scope of decisions on which a policy affects has been clarified, the next question is to determine the type of mechanisms through which a policy is established. Since we live in democracy in the Canary Islands, a decision-making mechanism has been consolidated based on the following premises. In the first place, the ultimate decisions are made by politicians, who have been elected through a democratic system. Canaries democratically elect their politicians, who decide what works to carry out and how. Secondly, there are periods of public exposure in which the common citizen can express his opinion about the work to be undertaken, and point out things that politicians and technicians, who are the ones who carry out the projects, may have missed. for high.

We are now told that the Pitcan is an exercise in transparency towards citizens because anyone can download an app and evaluate the works. Is that so? The first thing to be clear about is that the type of decisions that have been made is, first, if the Puerto del Carmen promenade is fixed, the GC-500 becomes an avenue and / or a promenade is arranged in Los Christians. And, second, to which company or companies, and through what mechanisms, the works are awarded. Having made these clarifications, it is obvious that what we would need to know to judge the “democratic quality” of the Pitcan is not to see the works on Google Maps. But, in the first place, to know, for example, through what mechanisms have been consulted the merchants, residents, hoteliers and tour operators of, to continue with the previous examples, Tías, San Bartolomé de Tirajana or Arona. And, secondly, to know what have been the processes by which the works have been awarded to some companies or others.

The processes by which the works are awarded to some companies or others, and by which citizens can participate in the elaboration of public policies such as the Pitcan are, as far as I know, the same that have been used regularly. Saying that the results can now be seen in an intelligent tool does not introduce novelties in how they were reached. Without discovering the Mediterranean, a novelty would have been to allocate Pitcan funds through participatory budgets. Some processes that have been carried out for a long time in many places and that do not consist of the construction companies participating in the management of the public budget, nor in how to distribute the different works among them.

Formerly it was said that paper held everything. The Internet holds much longer. From left to right, from city councils to the General State Administration, it seems that a style of doing politics is consolidating in which what you say you do matters more than what you actually do. The fact that the works of a Canary Islands public infrastructure plan are on Google Maps or Google StreetView does not convert a policy drawn up through traditional channels into a more participatory policy. What it only implies is that a private company (Google) can store public works data, not a “smart” solution to public decision-making. At a time when we have been told that we have to entrust our intelligence (smartness) to technology, it seems that our belief in Artificial Intelligence implies abdicating our ability to think. And no: it is enough to apply a minimum intelligence to know that a policy that asks us to abdicate the ability to think is not heading towards democracy. Of course, if the paper held everything, the Internet endured everything multiplied by a thousand.

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