Buffalo, New York is using an innovative way to encourage Community Engagement; text messaging. Buffalo has realized that the best way to encourage different people from different walks of life to participate in a planning effort is the multi-channel method.
Code For America brought Textizen to Buffalo. Textizen is a SMS powered survey system that allows for people to participate in community engagement efforts by simply texting. . Textizen-powered SMS surveys are just one component of this effort in the region. SMS texting platform allows for people — including those who are unable or unlikely to attend traditional Town Hall meetings — to make their voice heard, ranging from young adults to the older generation. SMS is also considered a simple method, people are consider replying to a text message far easier and quicker to do than an email or a phone call.
Textizen is now used for the following in Buffalo:
Collect information before and during a live event, enabling the moderator to collect detailed information from everyone in the crowd before a public event, allowing for all voices at “Town Hall Meetings” to be heard. Everyone has a chance to speaking.
Surveys a response before and after something important or not so important happens, to understand public opinion,
Textizen also allows people to be connected to the results, not just the input process. The program allows for instant data results, that can be easily displayed. Participants who see the results are more likely to participate because trust has been built through transparency.
Code for America has the full discussion and additional detail about Textizen and the results and response to the technology.