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CivicPlus Partners with Civil Space to Enable Informed Civic Decision-Making

Written by Jonathan Wiersma

Gauge public interest, sentiments, concerns, and excitement for local development projects of community impact.

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CivicPlus® is partnering with Civil Space, a leading digital public consultation platform that enables citizen engagement and feedback relative to civic planning projects and initiatives. By integrating Civil Space’s unique engagement and collaboration software into the CivicPlus® Platform, local governments can more efficiently and effectively gauge public interest, sentiments, concerns, and excitement for local development projects of community impact.

The Modern Challenge of Citizen Engagement

The stakes for local governments to build trust, demonstrate transparency, and enable engagement with citizens have never been higher—a perception that is corroborated by citizen engagement survey data from the National Research Center (NRC). In 2018, only one percent of citizens earning an annual average income of $25,000 to $99,999 attended a local public meeting more than once per month and more than 76% had not attended a meeting at all.

This data reveals that the percentage of citizens across the country that local leaders can define as very involved in community matters and public discourse is extremely small, despite the ease of information access that exists today.

Any local government leader who reviews this survey data may agree that the national statistics align with what they see in their community relative to public meeting participation. However, local leaders also know that their citizens are anything but apathetic and indifferent to decisions that impact how they live, work, and raise their families. Citizens, on the aggregate, passionately care when a street floods, a light goes out, a bike lane is created, and a development project changes the city skyline. Where, then, is the gap between citizen sentiment and engagement? How can local governments—that are already time and resource-strapped—cross the chasm to bring all citizens into the discussion about projects and initiatives that will impact their shared community?

Building Engagement from the Bottom Up

At a time when the proliferation of digital media makes it easier than ever to amplify the reach of news and information, local governments are struggling to close the gaps between civic initiatives and public sentiment. Today, Local governments need to create a space and mechanism for twenty-first-century public discourse that will enable them to:

  • Build trust among citizens
  • Make more impactful and informed decisions using citizen feedback and public sentiments
  • Create better citizen experiences in the communities that people choose to call home
  • Ensure that distance, time, and access are not factors in holding back citizen participation
  • Educate the public on crucial project and policy issues

It should be no surprise to modern communities, that the best way to start building a better engagement model begins with the digital sphere. Such a shift will require the use of effective tools and solutions designed to elicit feedback and open lines of communication so that communities can move forward, together.

Civil_Space_Survey_Map

The Civil Space Engagement Model

Civil Space equips local governments that want to excel across the spectrum of engagement. It brings citizens into the elected leadership conversations that surround development projects so that citizens’ voices can be heard every day—not just on Election Day. Civil Space is a people-centric engagement platform built to help communities co-design better futures. It’s an accessible, online bulletin board and gathering place—a hub for sharing community-driven ideas and for collaborating with people on decisions that impact them. Civil Space is designed to educate and provide context to issues, raise engagement levels, and harness the feedback that matters.

Leveraging an elegant, intuitive user experience, Civil Space takes a transparent, collective, and context-minded approach to online engagement. Grounded in the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) spectrum of public participation, Civil Space encourages healthier and more empathetic community conversations, amplifies diverse voices, and creates momentum toward consensus.

Civil Space has an explicit focus on improving the quality and output of conversations. Its commenting and threaded conversation capabilities include toxicity nudging, which identifies potentially inflammatory comments and encourages contributors to re-phrase, ensuring that their voice is heard, and adds constructively to the conversation. This functionality not only reduces moderation efforts but helps build trust between constituents and their organizations.

Civil Space is a key to closing the gap between civic projects and public sentiments, and it’s now an available solution from your CivicPlus Platform.

The CivicPlus Platform and Civil Space Integration

The CivicPlus Platform is already the most effective tool designed exclusively for local governments to engage citizens with news, alerts, job opportunities, public works service requests, and recreation opportunities. Adding Civil Space adds a new critical engagement element to CivicPlus' comprehensive suite of solutions—direct access and actionable feedback from citizens on projects that will help reshape and improve their collective community.

By integrating Civil Space into the CivicPlus Platform, local governments benefit from easier-to-use, better-integrated tools to facilitate dialogue, assess feedback, and improve decision-making. With CivicPlus and Civil Space, local leaders can:

  • Identify areas with trending service requests to prompt civic engagement outreach and issue assessment
  • Rely on a unified solution to create and publish surveys, forms, and polls directly to your website, maintain lists, and manage projects
  • Create topic-appropriate feedback aggregation channels to gather insights, such as surveys, forced rankings, image annotations, custom scales, threaded conversations, and geo-targeted feedback
  • Design engagements that mix dynamic content with feedback mechanisms, such as a video with an accompanying forced ranking and open-ended text question

For more information about Civil Space and how you can use it to gain the insights that you need to make informed community decisions, click below for more information.

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