The name Adsum

'Adsum' is Latin for 'I am present' and it also sounds like 'adding' to a 'sum' which is greater than it's parts.

Adsum - Tools for  meaningful Participation

Adsum bridges the gap between Gatekeepers (e.g. the government, institutions, other authorities) and Citizens by facilitating public participation and communication through an online platform. 

The Platform unites the 5 Principles for Civic Participation to make the process more convenient, interesting and relevant. It puts priority on the issue itself and acts as a hub for digital engagement, curating topics to the users according to their interests. Furthermore, a Plug-In enables direct connection and implemented game mechanics maintain motivation and improve feedback loops.

The 5 principles for public participation


Everyone who wants to add her/his voice to any issue that effects or interests them. Virtually anyone who can provide feedback or an opinion to a decision made by the Gatekeepers.


Decision makers, policy makers: Any institution, organisation that has influence on decisions of any kind that effect citizens, interest groups, etc. (e.g. Governments, Parties, NGO’s, authorities).

The 5 Principles of participation

Adsum connects citizens directly to the issue itself, removing the hassle to subscribe to many different gatekeepers.

The Platform Adsum is a hub for civic participation. From local to global: political parties, local authorities, humanitarian or environmental organisations, etc.

The integrated Adsum Plug-In allows for immediate access to participation with the simple click of a button. Just as easy as sharing or liking.

Adsum aggregates all sorts of different issues in order to curate them to citizens according to their interests. This avoids spamming with things people might not be interested in.

Game Mechanics are powerful and can drive user behaviour. They shorten feedback loops and create intrinsic motivation through various little tools like progress bars or rewards.

Civil participation

Civil participation is the broader term for all kinds of activities and efforts that enable people to take part in shaping the environment they live in. It is citizen power but it is organised in a hugely complex system pieced together from many different entities meant to represent the interest and will of the people. 

It is extremely difficult to understand this system, not to mention to maintain or fix it. Because everything is interrelated, small flaws immediately turn into wicked problems that require a systematic approach to be solved. 

Since quite some time now, this system is falling into disrepair, mainly because it has not been updated to suit the needs of modern, fast paced lifestyles. Exactly for that reason it is endangered to lose an entire generation (Generation Z) as active, co-creating citizens.

Systems Design to find solutions for a 'wicked problem'

Since a wicked problem like this cannot be not solved with a single solution, finding patterns is vital to manage the complexity. Identifying existing Pain Points and reformulating them as Gain Points allows for the intervention to aim to deliver these advantages. However, the Pain and Gain Points are very high level and need to be broken down into subcategories that allow for individual solutions.

Issue priority

From a Gatekeeper priority (e.g. a party or organisation)... 

... to an issue priority (e.g. a policy or cause)

Insights from pain points

7 main barriers to participation were extracted and then summarized into 3 major Pain Points: Inconvenience, Disinterest and Irrelevance.

Gain points to principles

Extracting the Pain Points for the user and addressing them individually led to a list of Principles for Digital Participation. Collectively applied, these would provide an improvement to the status quo.

Project details

This work was created as part of my final year project at the Global Innovation Design Masters Programme at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College, London. All work was created by myself.