Cities Use Community Remarks for Engagement Projects

Community Remarks is a collaborative mapping software that allows residents to provide public input for community projects. I originally came across this tool when I was looking for potential tools for my community engagement proposal, as we (my department) are developing a land use plan for our county. While I don’t know that it is exactly what we need for my project, I found the tool to be extremely simple, yet very beneficial. I looked at an example from the Louisville, where they utilized the program to allow community input on a potential rail expansion/brownfield site rehabilitation program. Apparently, this area was once home to heavy industries and has many brownfield sites that have not been clean up yet.

The way the platform works is that it allows the steering organization to develop its own GIS information to be featured on the map. It then allows citizens to go in and provide input on that map- they generally recommend 4-6 input methods. This can be a potential aspect of the project or even just feedback about something that has occurred there. For example, Louisville gave citizens the opportunity to identify transportation suggestion, community assets worth protecting if rail did come through the area, identify potential brownfield sites, and a couple others. It also allows citizens to see other comments, so they can provide reinforcement or add to an existing idea. Their page also linked to a facebook page where they provided updates on meetings and allowed the information to be shared more rapidly throughout the community.

The tool would be great for a community about to begin a bicycle/pedestrian plan because it allows citizens to point out both good and bad in the community. It’s a $1,995 licensing fee upfront, and then $280 for annual renewal. The best thing I like about it is the customization tools where the steering organization can add layers and customize the potential input tools.

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