June 25, 2013 By Editorial Staff
New platforms are transforming the idea of civic duty and reinventing how citizens engage with government. These tools allow users to interact and share feedback with government entities in creative, convenient ways. Here are five platforms that are helping redefine civic engagement.
If you’ve ever tried drumming up support for a neighborhood project, you know firsthand how difficult the effort can be. From diverse work schedules to just plain indifference, capturing a community’s attention and rallying residents on an issue can seem impossible at times. Neighborland was created to make that task easier.
The online social engagement platform helps citizens and public officials connect on ideas and plans for a community. After creating a profile on Neighborland, users can post questions or ideas using words and pictures. The posts can be categorized by topic, and users can suggest related actions such as fundraisers and meetings.
Users who support an idea can click a “me too” button — similar to “liking” a Facebook post. The information is then presented in an open, transparent way indicating the will of the community, complementing city council hearings and other traditional forms of communication.
Dan Parham, co-founder and CEO of Neighborland, said the platform originated from co-founder Candy Chang’s “I Wish This Was” project. Chang, a New Orleans resident, saw large amounts of vacant storefront properties in the city, so she created stickers that read “I wish this was,” leaving a blank space for people to suggest ideas. The approach was a success, gathering many responses.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.