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March 24, 2015

From commsgodigital.com.au

In the last two and a half years, our council Facebook page has grown from 1500 likes to 8500 likes – approximately 6% of our population. We have transformed it from a neglected comms channel to an important platform for communicating and engaging with our community. Here are my 24 tips for managing a local government Facebook page.

By 

In the last two and a half years, our council Facebook page has grown from 1500 likes to 8500 likes – approximately 6% of our population. We have transformed it from a neglected comms channel to an important platform for communicating and engaging with our community. Here are my 24 tips for managing a local government Facebook page.

March 24, 2015

From CitiesSpeak.org (The National League of Cities)

In a recent article by Jonathan Reichental, CIO of Palo Alto, he explains the importance and potential of civic innovation and urges city leaders to prioritize innovation at all levels of government. “Civic innovation” sounds broad and daunting, but there are three steps governments can take to successfully make it a central part of their strategy.

by Gayatri Mohan of PublicStuff

Innovation is all around us, and it’s more than just a buzzword. Cities of all sizes are tapping into multiple channels and local resources; they’re creating effective strategies for innovation in governance.

March 20, 2015

From commsgodigital.com.au

 It’s certainly true that by doing only online engagement you are alienating people who can’t or don’t want to, for whatever reason, get online and participate. But mirror that situation when using only using offline tools and you are effectively doing the same. 

March 13, 2015

From Granicus.com:

No matter the situation, there's likely someone who will not agree with various items that come up for discussion.

While these may often be civil discussions, things can turn very ugly very quickly in a public forum. And when this happens, anger supersedes reason, accusations get tossed about and the important topics at hand become afterthoughts.

Contentious meetings may not happen all the time, but when they do, there are a few things that you can do to turn them back around.

By 

We've all been in meetings before – whether it's an internal powwow with staff or a town hall with citizens. No matter the situation, there's likely someone who will not agree with various items that come up for discussion.

While these may often be civil discussions, things can turn very ugly very quickly in a public forum. And when this happens, anger supersedes reason, accusations get tossed about and the important topics at hand become afterthoughts.

March 12, 2015
From CoUrbanize.com

For such a pragmatic business, real estate development can get surprisingly personal. Simple misunderstandings over a development project can quickly turn ugly, and before you know it your company’s reputation is on the line.

While the Internet can be a breeding ground for angry commenters and unflattering social media posts, it can also be the best place to be proactive. An online civic engagement platform will help protect your company’s reputation, and while we can’t promise you’ll all be singing kumbaya, here are five ways it can help:

By Kate Loftus

For such a pragmatic business, real estate development can get surprisingly personal. Simple misunderstandings over a development project can quickly turn ugly, and before you know it your company’s reputation is on the line.

March 5, 2015

From Code for America Blog: 

Unfortunately, coffee + people does not equal participation or productivity. It’s important that all your facilitators are trained and ready to cultivate an active, inclusive, participatory space.

This crash course offers some easy to implement facilitation tips that can really help you create an open and inclusive space at any event; from your weekly hack night to your upcoming CodeAcross event.

BY BRIELLE PLUMP

So, your huge event/hack-a-thon/un-conference/extravaganza is THIS weekend!  It is time to do a final run through of the day and double check your ready with the most essential items.

The Checklist

Confirmed location  ✓

Invited city employees and government partners ✓

Invited other local NGOs and community partners ✓

Invited everyone else I know ✓

Confirmation emails sent to attendees ✓

March 3, 2015

From Living Cities

Go ahead, Google it. “Community engagement” is there, and it’s attached to everything from sports teams to businesses to libraries to universities. With all those associations out there, it can be difficult to identify “authentic community engagement” and to understand its power and potential for meaningful and sustainable change. Through my work with Nexus Community Partners, a community building intermediary in the Twin Cities, we’re trying to change that.

January 20, 2015

From Kettering Foundation

As attention to public deliberation has increased, one core interest of researchers has been evaluating the impact of deliberative processes. Researchers, practitioners, elected officials, and participants themselves want to know if what they’re doing matters. Does public deliberation impact policy? Does it change our attitude toward issues? Does it adhere to democratic ideals?

January 15, 2015

From Bang the Table

Online communication is not without shortcomings, however, many of those are perceived, rather than real. In this post, I will walk through eight disadvantages of online communication – some real, some perceived – specifically in the context of citizen engagement. Importantly, however, I will also suggest strategies to ameliorate the specific shortcomings.

There are a number of clear advantages and disadvantages of online communication that need to be considered when you are planning a digital citizen engagement strategy.

I have outlined the advantages in some detail in an earlier post.

January 9, 2015

From where I sit, it looks to me that online public engagement is in that phase today.  I wouldn’t necessarily assume that there’s any major consolidation on the horizon — we’re talking about software, after all, not manufacturing — but we are in a period where common language, common assumptions, and a common taxonomy and selection heuristics have not taken hold.  That’s in part because “public engagement” itself doesn’t have a clear definition or universally-shared assumptions (except for the Town Hall Three Minutes at the Mic Model, which pretty much everyone admits doesn’t work).

By Della Rucker [ED: Della is also the Managing Editor of EngagingCities]

Just got confirmation from Routledge this morning that I will be writing a book about the selection and use of online public engagement tools for release late next year!  The book has only a working title so far, but I did write a draft introductory chapter for the editorial board to consider.  It will give you a bit of a sense of where I think I am going with this thing.  Stay tuned for more news as it develops….

January 6, 2015

From Clean-Sheet.org

Follow these simple guidelines to make your data or statistical releases as useful as possible.

  1. Don’t merge cells.
  2. Don’t mix data and metadata in the same sheet.
  3. The first row of a data sheet should contain column headers. None of these headers

Follow these simple guidelines to make your data or statistical releases as useful as possible.

December 12, 2014

from bangthetable.com

A couple of weeks back, during an interview with a community engagement practitioner, I asked what “engagement” meant to him, and how it differed from “participation”. His response surprised me, “as far as I’m concerned, they mean the same thing”. You just replace “engagement” with “participation” or “involvement” depending on where you are.”

I’m not sure if this quite correct. Language is important, and we usually select specific words and phrases because of their specific contextual meaning, cultural fit, socio-cultural history and a whole range of other factors...it is all too easy to fall into the trap of imagining that the way “we”, (you and me) use a particular phrase, is the same as the people sitting next to us on the bus, or across the table during a negotiation, or when we’re trying to design a process based on a shared understanding of desirable outcomes.
.

By 

The language of “community engagement” is tricky, and can be a minefield for the uninitiated. In Australia, “community engagement” has come to dominate the lexicon. In other parts of the world other phrases hold sway.

December 4, 2014

bangthetable.com

Before you launch into your next project, ask yourself “is this question we’re putting to the community just a little condescending?” Unfortunately, all to often, the answer is yes. Condescending community engagement is rife in the public, private and third sectors. Why?

Many years ago I hired a consultant on the recommendation of my boss. She was tall, smart, sophisticated, immensely experienced and knowledgeable, immaculately groomed, well spoken, and generally very impressive. So why did the community I was working with take an almost instant dislike to her?

The short answer is that they felt (and arguably were) condescended to.

By 

Before you launch into your next project, ask yourself “is this question we’re putting to the community just a little condescending?” Unfortunately, all to often, the answer is yes. Condescending community engagement is rife in the public, private and third sectors. Why?

December 3, 2014

blog.courbanize.com

To best navigate these public meetings and ensure inclusive public participation, planners have developed toolkits for consensus-building in the face of huge initial disagreement.

The next time you find yourself in an argument with residents or struggling with a tough decision, try these strategies:

Within today’s political climate, we’re all familiar with the gridlock that can result from strongly held opinions.  This delay in process can occur at all levels—we’re seeing it now on major national debates, but it also happens regularly within town halls during public meetings. 

To best navigate these public meetings and ensure inclusive public participation, planners have developed toolkits for consensus-building in the face of huge initial disagreement.

October 31, 2014

Your community panel’s growth can be turbocharged using a variety of strategies. One sure fire method is to embrace a little controversy and engage the community about highly emotional issues.

The single most often asked question I hear in relation to online community engagement is, “how do we get more people to get involved in the conversation?”

It is such a recurring theme that we created a tips sheet on exactly this t

October 29, 2014

More than 60 percent of the world’s population remains offline. Without removing crucial deterrents to Internet adoption, little will change—and more than 4 billion people may be left behind.

In a little more than a generation, the Internet has grown from a nascent technology to a tool that is transforming how people, businesses, and governments communicate and engage. The Internet’s economic impact has been massive, making significant contributions to nations’ gross domestic product (GDP) and fueling new, innovative industries. It has also generated societal change by connecting individuals and communities, providing access to information and education, and promoting greater transparency.

October 27, 2014

Open data is the future – of how we govern, of how public services are delivered, of how governments engage with those that they serve. And right now, it is unevenly distributed. I think there is a strong argument to be made that data standards can provide a number of benefits to small and mid-sized municipal governments and could provide a powerful incentive for these governments to adopt open data.

By Mark Headd

This is an expanded version of a talk I gave last week at the Code for America Summit. The video from my talk should be up shortly.

An uneven future

“The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”
William Gibson. The Economist, December 4, 2003

October 22, 2014

In our work with America’s cities and a cross-section of public and private sector leaders, we are learning a lot about what works — and what doesn’t — to lead and drive this kind of change. But these aren’t just lessons for the social sector. Much of what we’ve learned is relevant to leaders of any type of organization or partnership that want to catalyze change in the face of complex challenges.

by Ben Hecht

Change on a grand scale requires people to come together in new and different ways, and to reimagine what’s possible. This kind of change is hard, but it’s not impossible.

October 21, 2014

Social media can be a beautiful thing. With unlimited possibilities for connections with billions of people worldwide, friendships can be strengthened, families can connect across the globe, and loyal customers can become raving fans, even friends, of your organization. But like most things, social media has a dark side – the side that lets users openly express their unfiltered anger, frustration, even full on rage toward organizations and other people. Some individuals, known as trolls in Web vernacular, even purposefully try to provoke more outrage from other people in comments or tweets. Besides the obvious question of how one finds the time to argue with others online, the question of how to deal with digital discord is one that many organizations struggle with. We’ve pulled together a few tips to help you create a more harmonious online community, and to continue to help you cultivate productive online engagement.

By Amy Larsen

September 18, 2014

Today, Chicagoans can easily see how and where city services are being deployed, find early learning programs, learn of local incidents of foodborne illnesswait time estimates for popular public amenities, and enjoy other benefits of open government data -- thanks to the efforts of the Smart Chicago Collaborative.

It wasn't by accident that access to this data was made easy (and even fun). Nor was this success attributable solely to talented developers. The Collaborative has cultivated a community of paid civic user testers to make sure their civic apps meet the needs and expectations of Chicagoans -- an approach that can be emulated in other communities.

by: Amy Gahran

September 16, 2014

What does it take to create robust, effective transparency legislation? Here are some guidelines.

At the highest level of abstraction, I suggest drafters:

  1. Understand the context
  2. Use flexible implementation authority
  3. Create external checks on implementation
  4. Make information public by default
  5. Build in feedback loops
  6. Keep close watch on cost
  7. Watch out for tricky legislative language
  8. Figure out where to embed a program

September 15, 2014

Over the last several decades, a technological boom has changed the face of the planet. Just as it has changed everyday life, so too has it changed the way our country is governed. Let’s look at a few of the problems we are currently reflecting on—and the technological solutions that could turn them around:

By Tom Spengler

From the day our government came into existence, there have been large challenges to overcome, whether governing just one city or an entire country. From providing disaster relief, to managing public transportation and roads, to leading the way for more sustainable community development, the government has a lot to focus on.

September 11, 2014

From the periphery, planning and community engagement seems easy. You schedule a few public meetings. You talk to a few folks, confer with a few experts and put together a plan for the future of a community. Easy? 

Nope. Planning and public engagement processes are never easy. The fact that most engagement processes fail is hardly a secret.

By Simon Lapointe

We all make mistakes and we all have failures. Over the course of our professional lives we can all count on having a few epic fails.

From the periphery, planning and community engagement seems easy. You schedule a few public meetings. You talk to a few folks, confer with a few experts and put together a plan for the future of a community. Easy? 

Nope. Planning and public engagement processes are never easy. The fact that most engagement processes fail is hardly a secret.

September 10, 2014

A 2013 McKinsey Global Institute report estimated that open data could add over $3 trillion annually in total value to the global economy. Yet for all of the evidence of economic and societal benefits from open data, states vary widely in the degree to which they have embraced the idea. This report provides a snapshot of state efforts to create open data policies and portals and ranks states on their progress.

by Laura Drees and Daniel Castro