Make the Most of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal with Civic Engagement
- Caitlin Bennett
- January 12, 2022
- 5 minute read
The historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure for the United States. It aims to grow the economy, enhance competitiveness, create good jobs, and make the economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.
President Biden believes that its essential to invest in the country and its people by creating good-paying union jobs, tackling the climate crisis, and growing the economy sustainably and equitably. He wants to demonstrate that ‘democracies can deliver’ and has set out to bring America together to position workers, farmers, and businesses to compete and win in the 21st century.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal makes the largest federal investment in public transit ever, the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system, the largest investment in clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in American history, ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet, and helps America tackle the climate crisis by making the largest investment in clean energy transmission and EV infrastructure in history.
There will be a federal investment of $1.2 trillion trickling through local governments and the economy, and it’s essential that the United States is able to make the most of it to reinvigorate its infrastructure, invest in communities that have too often been left behind, and create a sustainable future.
Here is how civic engagement can help to make this happen.
Civic Engagement will Create Trust and Transparency
There is a lack of trust in political processes in America and effective community engagement can help to rebuild it. Meaningful communication and conversation will help decision-makers to make informed infrastructure investments for the future and showcase that they are spending the money in the right places.
Community outrage is a real project risk and it tends to spread quickly in a negative feedback loop when it’s not addressed. When people do not trust their government and elected leaders they start to disengage, which leads to policies that are less responsive, participatory, or inclusive, and outrage continues to grow. By being transparent about how money is spent, why it is being spent in that way, the decision-making process, and the desired outcomes, governments and organizations can proactively reduce friction and build trust.
Civic Engagement Can Control the Narrative
If you don’t create a public forum for people to learn about your project and voice their opinion, they are likely to turn to other avenues, like social media to air their thoughts. It’s very hard for you to control the narrative on these platforms and misinformation, confusion, and negative sentiment can spread quickly. An online civic engagement page can help you to create a source of truth about your project and help you to provide the information the community needs to understand your initiative.
If you create a forum for feedback, you can also monitor and respond to sentiment as it changes over time. A negative comment on social media can easily go unaddressed and quickly spiral out of control. However, comments on your own online forum or ideas wall can be addressed quickly. By consolidating community feedback, you can also analyze it and gain insights that can advise your communications and policy teams.
Civic Engagement Will Make New Projects Run Smoothly
Infrastructure projects have real and tangible impacts on people’s lives. With an incredible amount of projects to be planned and developed, it only makes sense for municipalities to involve the communities that will be impacted. Community members are experts in their local area and have valuable input to provide. They are also key stakeholders that can influence the success of your initiative and your ability to acquire funding. A protest against your initiative can result in significant delays and budget blowouts.
Engaging citizens early and often in the infrastructure development process will minimize social disruption and enhance outcomes, while saving time and money. Speaking to a diverse and representative community group will also ensure that you’re meeting all needs, moving in the right direction, and sharing the benefits of your initiative equitably.
This is an opportunity for ‘democracy to deliver’.
Smart cities listen to their citizens and in the context of the pandemic, polarization, and misinformation, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal represents an opportunity for ‘democracy to deliver’. If these once-in-a-lifetime infrastructure investments are going to strengthen communities, they need to include mechanisms for sharing trusted information and providing proactive civic engagement – especially for citizens that haven’t been at the table in the past.
The team at Social Pinpoint has the experience to understand the unique needs and requirements of government entities. That’s why we have customized packages that are designed to help your engagement strategy remain both cost-effective and time-efficient. This approach allows us to apply our expertise to each relationship, no matter the complexity. Enquire about our custom pricing today to understand how you can implement simple and effective online civic engagement.