Rangers Football Club in Glasgow, Scotland, has launched a “Community Engagement blueprint” to improve its relationship with the surrounding community. The club held a “a series of fact-finding meetings with councillors in order to understand local concerns,” and as a result of those meetings will implement a number of strategies aimed at being a better neighbor to local residents.
- The team will play a video during games to encourage fans to respect the local community
- Local law enforcement will make more visible patrols on match days
- The team is installing more portable toilets and recycling bins around the stadium
This is a good example of an organization soliciting feedback from citizens and create an initiative using that feedback to improve relationships and build trust between their organization and the public. It’s also evidence of an organization working to effectively communicate that they have received the feedback and plan to make real changes as a result.
Below is a video of the Community Engagement promotional video which will play during games, along with video of the press conference announcing the “Community Engagement blueprint.”
Cape Fear Commuter Challenge
My Open Road App
In October 2016 the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization held their first commuter challenge. The commuter challenge ran between October 17th – October 30th and was designed to achieve a variety of objectives which included reducing carbon emissions, alleviating traffic congestion, improving community awareness of greenways as well as public transit options, and encouraging the community to be active. The commuter challenge utilized the My Open Road mobile application which tracks users activities and assigns a social responsibility score with the highest points being awarded for running, biking, and walking. Local businesses participated in the commuter challenge and offered prizes and incentives for the participants with the highest scores. The commuter challenge had a number of positive outcomes including 175 participants, 29,718 miles traveled, 16,038 lbs of CO2 saved, and substantial interest from partner organizations including NCDOT.
Mapping Social Media Posts through ArcGIS Online
Many local governments use a variety of ESRI products for planning, land use development, and public safety. There is now an option to transform citizens user experience to allow for social media posts to be mapped in real time on community maps through ArcGIS online. The potential uses for this technology platform range from local governments being able to create heat maps based on key words, to directly interacting with citizens through retweeting or responding to tweets and other social media posts. This tool was used by various emergency management agencies during Hurricane Matthew to see the types of conditions that citizens were seeing on the ground as the storm was passing through. This tool is beneficial to local governments because most local governments already have access to ArcGIS Online and can therefore implement this concept without incurring any additional costs other than maintenance and oversight of the service.
Name: Balancing Act
Website Link: http://abalancingact.com/
Balancing Act is an online tool that allows citizens to play an active role in balancing their local municipalities budget by working through a simulated budget process. The feedback from citizen input is directly implemented into the local government decision-making processes. There is a lot of potential with this type of process because it allows citizens to reflect on what services are important to them while also gaining an appreciation for the difficult tasks that local government staff face each year during the budget development process. Another benefit of this program is that it can be used by citizens who might not be able to attend a budget meeting or who might not feel comfortable openly offering their feedback on the budget. There is also an option for the program to be used in an in-person budget meeting allowing participants who are not as familiar with using computers to still participate in the budget development process.
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Flint’s task of rectifying the negative impacts stemming from its water contamination crisis continues to leave the city’s citizens desperate for solutions. On top of that, they have become increasingly aware of how little information they receive about why Flint’s elected officials make certain decisions.
This feeling is especially salient in the face of recent news from Flint Mayor Karen Weaver that citizens should expect it will be another two years before Flint can produce its own clean water. Luckily, Flint residents have a better chance of getting what they want thanks to federal requirements from the EPA that require the city to involve citizens in the process of deciding the city’s primary and back-up water sources. Tactics to date include community conversations, mailings, press releases, publication distribution, and presentations at state and city committee meetings.
Notably, its pending community engagement strategy is to gather cost and technical feasibility details from potential providers and then facilitate public participation. Specifically, residents will be encouraged to share their opinions on the alternatives being considered – they do this either by attending a town hall meeting, by email, or in writing.
It remains to be seen how many citizens take advantage of this opportunity to be part of the decision-making process. With nearly half of Flint households lacking access to internet, one can surmise that neither email nor town hall participation are likely to host significant attendance. Nevertheless, this community engagement example demonstrates not only the value of gaining resident buy-in at the outset of a public administration decision, but it also shows the power federal agencies can have in requiring participation when local governments fail to make decisions that are in the interest of their citizens.