How Does Online Community Engagement Help Cities of All Sizes?
- Caitlin Ryan
- October 21, 2019
- 5 minute read
Leaders in local government are rethinking the way they go about making decisions by proactively asking those who are directly affected – the community.
Surveys, town hall meetings, pop-ups and face-to-face conversations hold a strong basis for community engagement strategies, but we’ve reached a time where people expect to be able to have their say on the complex set of issues that impact the areas where they live, work and play.
While these people want to be able to participate in consultations, they don’t always have the time to attend town meetings so providing an online space for them to stay engaged and informed is essential.
No matter the size of the community you are trying to reach, there is always a challenge around reaching the right residents and getting the community involved. Digital engagement tools have reinvented the way we reach out to the community by enabling us to reach a broader audience, create trust between city and community, and make better decisions based on what citizens actually want. Digital engagement platforms allow you to create a controlled space for your citizen outreach for planning projects and community consultations.
Below are examples of how cities of all sizes used digital engagement to make an impact on their community.
The City of Bunbury is preparing it’s Public Open Space Strategy – Parks and Playgrounds and is seeking feedback from the community during the process. The strategy will be the guiding document for the development and refurbishment of the City of Bunbury’s parks and playgrounds into the future, in a manner that supports the City’s social, economic and environmental values.
CDandP along with Travis County in Texas has created an in-depth transportation blueprint survey to better understand which projects the community supports. The Travis County Transportation Blueprint is filled with projects to improve mobility in the community; so many projects that, given their current financial projections, they won’t be able to build them all. This survey will is set out to guide which projects will be prioritized throughout the county.
The City of Winnipeg set out to understand residents’ desires for the future of transit in the next 25 years as the population continues to grow. By providing a space for the community to engage online, they were able to reach a much broader section of the community than they would have been able to with solely offline engagement.
The City of St. Thomas has an exceptional network of parkland, open space, recreational trails and pathways, and a number of facilities, programs, and recreational spaces that enrich the lives of residents and visitors. A key component of this study is the review of the City’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The feedback gathered on their digital engagement platform will guide the community-supported plan and provide the policy framework to manage, serve and support existing and future residents as well as visitors with the needed parks, open space, trails, recreation, cultural and leisure facilities, services and programming in a cost-effective and proactive manner.
WSB and the City of Farmington are planning to improve the Farmington Highway 3 Corridor to make it a safe entertainment space for the community. They’ve invited residents to identify assets that make the area a great place to live, work and shop, opportunities where a little investment or development could improve the quality of the corridor and issues that need to be addressed to manage their impact on the corridor.
The Mildura Central Business District is an important area for people all across the region. Council set out to gather community feedback on their vision for the future CBD and identify any issues and opportunities to ensure they create a plan that provides what the community wants to see in future Mildura.
The City of Plymouth, Minnesota identified concerns that their Plymouth Creek Center isn’t meeting current community needs. With high demands causing programming limitations, they found that the overall solution was total renovation. Before developing these plans, they decided that is was necessary to hear from residents so they provided a digital engagement platform to gather feedback.
The City of Newcastle has committed to update the Stevenson Park Recreation Precinct Masterplan and develop a Playground Concept Plan. The plan will identify how Stevenson Park Recreation precinct can be effectively utilized to meet the changing needs of the surrounding community, sporting clubs, and the broader community. Council took to the community as expert park users to share their experiences and feedback on Stevenson Park by providing an interactive map where people can share their ideas, places they like, and changes they’d like to see.