Town of Blacksburg: Using Surveys and Crowdsourcing for Government Solutions - Granicus Blog - -
Blacksburg, VA, received over a thousand responses with their first online survey! Not bad for a pop. of 46,620… Keys to success: 1) Hot topic (Downtown Parking) 2) Stakeholders shared survey 3) Anonymous responses
That’s despite the construction of 156,000 affordable housing units in the last 12 years.
This is recap from the project to connect digital and physical discussions as part of the City of Santa Rosa’s DINE engagement event
In part one of the this post I outlined that one of our biggest challenges in using CivicIdeas for DINE was that Santa Rosa’s CivicIdeas site was very new and people had yet to get a chance to become familiar with it before inviting them to the DINE discussion. We tried to overcome this challenge by inviting a lot of new people to the online discussion and cross-promoting it with the in-person dinners. It turned out that we were able to get a lot of new people to come to the site and read through the live-posts from the dinner I attended but we didn’t receive a lot of additional comments or discussion.
Our results remind me of the 90-9-1 principle or “participation inequality” which basically states that in an open system with voluntary participation and selection of tasks 90% of participants will merely consume content, while 9% will edit, and only 1% will create content. The key to our online discussion with DINE was to create a larger 90% opportunity where people could participate in some way without having to commit to attending one of the dinners, which was more of a 9% or 1% activity.
Overall DINE had a great feeling of, try out a little non-threatening civic engagement, see how you like it, and then we’ll update you on Facebook or email when we’re having our next event. It offered a low barrier to entry for people just getting started in civic participation. Our use of online discussions in CivicIdeas lowered that barrier to entry even further because people could simply read the discussion without even having to attend.
DINE felt very much like a civic hackathon in that it was primarily a community building event. The purpose was not to build products or to definitively solve problems, instead it was to bring people together, share knowledge, and give them a demo of civic participation in Santa Rosa.
Using civic tech to connect digital to physical conversations is a big idea that is very tough to execute.
This week I’m heading to California to help the City of Santa Rosa use Granicus’ online discussion software (CivicIdeas) to connect their in-person engagement program to more citizens. Discussion Involving Neighborhood Engagement (DINE) consists of around ten simultaneous dinner table discussions where Santa Rosans will discuss questions of ethnic and cultural diversity.
This year Santa Rosa wants to use CivicIdeas to extend the discussion to people who are unable to attend the dinners. The idea is to host the discussion questions online a week prior to the event in order to give people a preview of the discussion topics before the event and a chance to get the conversation going early. For the night of the event itself, the goal is to do a sort of “live-tweeting” (via CivicIdeas) of one of the in-person discussions in order to share it with a larger group online. We also want to keep the online discussion open for a couple of weeks afterward in order to enable the participants to continue the conversation.
A possibly obvious question is, why not use Twitter to live-tweet the event? A possibly obvious answer is that we want to see how well Civicideas handles this type of use case! Also, live-tweeting an event via Twitter has a tendency to overwhelm your audience with a barrage of tweets that most of them may not be interested in. Live-tweeting via Twitter also requires a popular hashtag in order to be fully successful and I’m not aware of hashtag for such a specific topic as ethnic and cultural diversity in Santa Rosa, California. We could include some universal hashtag communities but it’s important to the City that this conversation focus on their population’s opinions.
One of the main challenges in this project is that Santa Rosa’s CivicIdeas site is still very young so it will be difficult to attract enough participants for a vibrant online discussion. Like with Twitter, it will be tough to keep from entirely dominating the discussion with live posts of comments from the in-person discussions. The advantage that CivicIdeas has over Twitter is that the discussion is entirely focused on a single topic so there is a far smaller chance of annoying our audience with irrelevant content.
The keys to success will be to invite interested people to the online discussion and move the conversation forward by offering links to next steps and additional resources.
UNCLE SAM WANTS your IDEAS!
As a federal agency, the National Archives is working to implement the President’s Digital Government Strategy. We need to hear your ideas for how we can better serve you.
- What National Archives services would you like to see optimized for mobile use?
- What systems should we make available via APIs?
What part of the nation’s archives would you like to be able to access on a mobile device? What would you do with our history if it were made into data, accessible through an API? What data would you need?
Let the archivists know, because they’re looking for ideas.
"According to new research from the U.S. Forest Service, an average of two-thirds of all trees in cities are the result of natural regeneration. Only one-third of trees are deliberately planted." "Trees are reproducing and filling in empty spaces far more efficiently than any tree planting program ever could.” (via You Didn’t Plant That: Where Urban Trees Really Come From - Neighborhoods - The Atlantic Cities)
What should we build at the Code Across Austin Hackathon? Suggest, support, & discuss ideas on Neighborland: http://bit.ly/PpcFoV