Focus Area: Civic Engagement
Civic engagement is the basis of democracy, and it has undergone a major transformation. The breakout group will explore how Las Vegas and the Valley can use technology to remove barriers and facilitate the flow of information in ways that benefit the public regardless of their neighborhood or socioeconomic status.
1. Data being generated by the Internet of Things (IoT) has significant potential value to both public and private interests. How can public agencies in the region increase awareness and open up access to this data to benefit businesses, individuals and community organizations?
2. Social media has become a popular channel for local public agencies to share information of interest to the public, especially during emergencies. What more can public agencies in the region do to expand and improve civic engagement, particularly with demographic groups that aren’t currently being reached?
Questions to inform the discussion
- What are the highest value opportunities / use cases for each of these constituent groups?
- How can we find out where the biggest data gaps are, i.e. what’s not being collected and/or shared that would provide high value?
- What is the best way to engage with each group?
- How can City/Regional Open Data Portals provide benefits for those most threatened by the digital divide (e.g. elderly and low-moderate income communities)
- What can we do to further leverage social media as a listening platform?
- How can we build solutions that cross departments to provide more robust digital citizen services?
- What kind of outreach is needed to build relationships with underrepresented demographic groups, e.g. teenagers?
- What steps can we take to ensure that our social media efforts do not enlarge the digital divide?
Why is this important?
Modern citizens live in a tech-driven, tech-dependent world that has given them unprecedented access to information they need to live a good life, and they expect government to follow suit. Access to government-controlled information derived from the IoT must be easy and non-discriminatory. It must also meaningful with context.
Civic engagement by local government has grown beyond the occasional survey or election cycles. Technology, such as the IoT, have created an explosion of information useful to government, businesses, residents and visitors. There are several strategies that can be employed to get useful information in the hands of the public via whatever platform they are most comfortable with. In addition, technology can aid the process of listening to the public, giving them a voice in defining direction and positive outcomes.
Local government agencies in Southern Nevada are popular on social media to varying degrees, and these channels have been leveraged as a bi-directional form of communication making the public “ground agents” who supplement data gathering from city staff and the IoT.
The City of Las Vegas is ranked #1 for open data transparency, and an increasing amount of data being made available to the public is derived from the IoT enabling them to supplement government’s situational awareness.
Measurements and KPIs are increasingly being used to explain the progress towards becoming a model smart city to stakeholders, both internally and to the general public.
Example Las Vegas initiatives
As part of the “Go Vegas” ecosystem, the City of Las Vegas has an app for mobile devices and skills for the Amazon Alexa voice-activated personal digital assistant. This City’s application for the Amazon Echo, a voice-controlled artificial intelligence speaker named Alexa, is part of a broader effort to allow residents to access city services in new ways. Alexa allows people interact with the city through the voice-controlled technology so, for example, they can inquire about city services in a more automated, customized way such as asking Alexa about the status of a permit or application with the city.
Ultimately, citizens will be able to create a profile by logging into the city’s website and personalizing the way they interact, whether that means a business license, notifications about when their council representative is having an event in their neighborhood or which parks have certain recreational opportunities. Building the infrastructure behind this is part of the City’s Electronic Development Department Integration, aimed at using technology to make city services more seamless, user-friendly and gadget-connected for customers. The goal is to allow citizens to approach city services as a one-stop shop, where they can pay sewer bill and permit fees at the same time…all with never having to touch a keyboard.
In an era when fewer than 3 in 10 Americans express trust in government, and many feel disenfranchised with the political process, Las Vegas is faced with the challenges of connecting with, informing and supporting the city and its people. The City is changing the way citizens think about engaging with their local government by investing in social media to connect with the residents and community organizations. At the center of the City’s efforts are Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, because that’s where the vast majority of the city’s constituents are present. Within one year, the City of Las Vegas engaged with over 380,000+ unique users on Facebook and Twitter–half of the city’s population, increased Instagram engagement by 59% and saw a 26% spike in organic Twitter impressions. Across all three platforms, Vegas has implemented a strategy focused on humanizing government, fostering transparency, being agile and raising awareness around initiatives contributing to the city’s growth.
Apple’s TV-based App Store and Operating System (tvOS) have changed the way brands develop apps and eliminate the gap between iOS and TV. To keep up with the times, the City is creating an engagement channel with Apple TV. To do this, it is expanding past video streaming to create its own channel on Apple TV that will offer unique experiences with companion apps that work seamlessly between users’ smartphones and their TVs. The City’s first of its kind channel for municipal government will enable the viewing public to use their Apple device to call up any video content from the City and watch it when, where and how they want to. The new Apple TV channel will free people from needing cable TV to watch content on KCLV-TV 2.