As governments across the country grapple with ways to effectively engage a decreasing number of locally involved citizens, the availability of modern tools seem to always lag behind those which citizens desire. The rise in social media use to almost 70% of the adult population(1) has created expectations and habits among residents that may not lead to productive discourse or feedback. Popular social networks make it difficult to ensure that outbound information is accurate and objective. These platforms are also not designed for civic communication - too frequently, the most used channels devolve into negative discourse. All of this means the information about local sentiment being relayed to municipal decision-makers on important local issues is of questionable utility.
We just finished rolliong out our most exciting update in a while - long-form surveys. We can't wait to see all the exciting data that municipalities can uncover by asking multiple questions focused on a single topic!
During last year’s election, more than one in three voting-eligible Americans didn’t vote. While there are widespread systemic issues that contribute to a lack of voter turnout, there’s also another big reason we know voters don’t show up at the polls: They feel like their voices don’t matter.
How to get from concept to solution by asking the right questions
Last week, the Institute of Local Government out of California hosted a webinar titled “Engaging Your Community Through Surveys and Polls.” They were kind enough to record the talk, and if you’d like to see their teachings on the issue, you can find the video of the webinar here.
The hosting of this particular webinar, and the interest they received and attendance for the event, made us realize that perhaps there’s a need for a singular online resource on question types or ways to lead constituents through topic areas to help them, and your locality, come up with solutions to otherwise complex issues. If you remember, we discussed this briefly here on this blog a couple weeks ago, but now it’s time for the full dive.
This is the first in a series of lightning posts, designed to provide in-depth information on a topic we’ve previously discussed. If you have any questions, or would like to submit a topic for discussion, please contact us here!
The concept of improved government transparency is one that has always sounded great, but was really hard to implement. At first, technology didn’t exist to share necessary elements until the internet made this data, like municipal financials, easier to share broadly. We are now entering a period that not only allows sharing of this data, but also allows the creation and accessibility of new information, such as issue-specific constituent sentiment, that can truly bring transparency to the next level! Projects like Reclaim New York and The State Integrity Investigation are highlighting those municipalities pushing the frontier on new and improved ways to provide improved transparency and accessibility to their citizens.
In the wake of recent national elections, it seems the entirety of the narrative on citizen-government engagement has been focused on how polarized our country is, and how out of touch governments are with their citizens. While those stories make great headlines, at Polco we’ve actually found a lot of the opposite - at the local level, our government leaders seem to have their finger squarely on the pulse of their citizens.