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.
July 2, 2013, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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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.”

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Published on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 in Government Technology
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