Ongoing community engagement fosters trust and support for change
Community Engagement is the process by which individuals come together to benefit their communities. As more and more people have access to the Internet, the connected city of the future will unequivocally incorporate citizens’ input in everyday decisions. Therefore, organizations must encourage, promote, support and participate in active dialogue with the communities they serve.
Social license to operate
Cities, municipalities, public transit agencies, and utility services companies need the support of residents to move forward with their projects. These organizations must build this support by providing citizens with real and meaningful opportunities to raise their concerns. This shared decision-making approach to problem-solving is increasingly replacing the outdated expert-knows-best approach. Therefore, social license to operate is becoming the new normal to gain support for large infrastructure projects.
Ad-hoc vs ongoing engagement
Engagement must be ongoing in order to build long-term trust. Continual engagement builds relationships between organizations and citizens. Organizations that invest in getting these relationships to take root will benefit from a supportive community. Organizations must see their public engagement efforts as a sustained activity instead of a siloed, project-based, start-stop effort.
Going beyond online surveys
Organizations are increasingly investing in online community engagement platforms. These tools provide them with a centralized and ongoing public engagement environment in which to conduct consultations over time. As a result of deploying these engagement hubs, organizations demonstrate to citizens their commitment to listening and to taking their input seriously. Furthermore, by joining these online engagement hubs, citizens make it easier for organizations to consult with them in subsequent projects. So, while organizations have been using ad-hoc online surveys to gather input on specific projects, seems like lately many are opting for a more permanent relationship based on ongoing, open dialogue.
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As you mentioned, by joining these online platforms, people can be better heard. It can also keep people engaged and allow them to feel like their input is taken seriously. I think that it would be so interesting to be involved in the process of creating a community engagement platform.