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5 Glimpses Into the Future of Civic Engagement

Seeking to maximize the power of the Internet to expand public outreach efforts, a plethora of engagement platforms have proliferated in recent years. Government Technology looks at five of the most promising new models of civic engagement.

The open house, the charrette, the visioning meeting, the public hearing: time intensive platforms for civic participation have shown their limitations in being able to bring a wide swath of community members into the planning process. But web-based platforms like Neighborland, Textizen, and Community PlanIt are allowing a new generation to connect to their local governments. 

The editors at Government Technology look at a few other platforms that are new to us. One is Voterheads, "a free online engagement platform that alerts citizens via email when their city, county or school board is discussing a topic that they’re interested in." Another is Open Town Hall, which promises to "[move] the public meeting process online, acknowledging some 21st-century realities and offering a few other advantages too."

"Open Town Hall requires registration, and the topics are presented by the jurisdiction," explain the authors. "Rather than restricting input, said [Peak Democracy co-founder Mike Cohen], it broadens the appeal of participation and brings in many more moderate views. Open Town Hall also requires a geocoded address so that input on an issue can be evaluated based on its location."

A "platform to watch" is Placehood.org: a “virtual place to discuss real places that you want to see transformed.”

Full Story: Introducing the 21st-Century City Hall

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