- By Cory Poris Plasch -
A few years ago, I visited a community in Minnesota where a public works employee had developed a device that greatly decreased the amount of time and the number of people required to put a snowplow on a truck. The idea was brilliant. The device could get trucks on the road significantly faster — a game-changer for public safety during an unexpected weather event. The only problem? No one outside of this municipality knew about it, so only one community benefited from the idea.
In local government, we know the best ideas are shared. Collaboration with other community leaders provides inspiration and helps move all of our communities forward.
Community engagement and survey research have undergone big changes in the last few years accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Research Center (NRC) at Polco conducts and presents public opinion research using cutting-edge data analytics and survey methodology. They pass on what they learn by regularly presenting their findings to the public and to organizations such as the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers (AAPOR).
Local governments are increasingly focused on data-driven decision making. That’s why collaborating with other communities about how to collect and interpret data is important. Community leaders are passionate about civic engagement, so it’s natural for local governments to want to engage other communities to hear what they’re learning.
What works in community engagement, and what doesn’t? Are residents more willing to fill out a paper survey or one that they can do on their phones? Which social media platforms are best for getting the word out about surveys and polls? What are some of the best ways to get input from community members and hard-to-reach populations?
These are the questions that local leaders are asking themselves and one another. Leaders can make sure they’re not spending time and money reinventing the wheel by coming together to discuss and share what works and what doesn’t.
If 2020 taught us anything, it is that the world is much more connected than many imagined. As local leaders seeking to help communities rebuild and recover after the pandemic, we are all in this together. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is providing needed funds for local government, academic units and more. But it requires performance metrics and reporting of results. Resident input will continue to be crucial to steer recovery.
Leaders have questions about how to access and use this funding. What is important to prioritize first? What are the restrictions on the funding? What do residents need the most?
A combination of resident input and collaboration with other local governments will be key in successful economic, social, academic, and community recovery.
There are lots of ways to connect and learn from each other, but it can be difficult to find the time to collaborate externally amidst the many demands of local leadership.
We know that local leaders love learning from one another — and we love learning from you, too! So we’ve created a space for you to swap best practices, share stories, and ask and answer questions.
Polco’s new online community is where you can connect with local leaders. You can access it from wherever you are, whenever you need ideas and support.
Polco Connect is a digital space where you can meet and connect with other local governments who are using the Polco platform to engage their residents, stakeholders and community members. It’s the best place for asking questions and finding answers about the Polco platform and community engagement in general.
Polco Connect brings several of our favorite things together in one place: our Knowledge Base for answers to all things, civic engagement, Polco-related, our product roadmap, discussion groups set up around common topics, and more. Polco Connect also respects and maintains member privacy. In fact, our client groups are private and cannot be accessed by the public. The National Community Survey (The NCS) group, for example, contains only others who conducted that benchmark survey.
Data drives decisions more every day, and as needs evolve so does our platform. We value client feedback, and as such, many suggestions from users have improved our platform considerably. Now, not only can you suggest features and functionality, you can also track the progress of your idea on Polco Connect. You can also upvote others’ ideas.
Polco exists to help leaders more effectively engage their communities. By sharing ideas with other communities and with our Polco team, you can help build the engagement platform you need — because some ideas are just worth spreading.
Do you use Polco to create surveys and polls, or look at data from your community? Is it one of your frequently opened tabs or bookmarks? We’re inviting you to be one of the first to explore and help build Polco Connect.