Is your city falling behind? How technology is transforming citizen engagement

Wed, 2013-10-16 06:00 -- Jesse Berst

Here's an excellent article from Governing Magazine via a reprint in Government Technology. It chronicles the revolution that is occurring all over the United States now that technology has made citizen engagement "frictionless." You'll want to read the vignettes from Austin, Omaha, St. Paul, Vallejo, San Francisco and other cities. And you'll want to cut and save the list of citizen engagement resources at the end. -- Jesse Berst

Transforming citizen engagementCharacterizing Austin as a "famously argumentative" city, the article suggests that winning approval for public works projects in the Texas city can often take decades. So getting a comprehensive plan approved in just three years was noteworthy.

How did they do it? City planners got creative with a "meeting in a box" initiative that was so successful it got 18,000 people involved in the planning effort – way, way more than the usual suspects who typically weigh in on planning matters.

Beyond Austin's meeting in the box concept, the article talks about other ways cities are experimenting as citizen engagement "comes of age" – from budgeting challenges to open data efforts to creating staff positions focused on it. And as interesting as what cities are doing on the citizen engagement front are the past practices they are moving away from.  Read the article >>

More on citizen engagement:
Rethinking 311: What Winnipeg and other cities are doing (and why)
Council on target to cut costs and improve customer service with new citizen portal (pdf)
The dynamics of opening government data (pdf)


Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to subscribe to SmartCitiesNow, the weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques.