Civic engagement refers to the practice of encouraging citizens to become involved in the community life and help shape the community’s future. Thanks to the rise of modern technologies, your city government can nowadays also use online means to get closer to its citizens. And the time is right to do so. Let’s highlight the five most prominent reasons why your city should start with online civic engagement.

Strengthen Civic Engagement

Both online and offline initiatives are set up to bring civic engagement to the next level. With the emergence of smart cities, which involve the use of digital technologies, online channels gain in importance. But this doesn’t imply that governments should put an end to their offline efforts.

A city government needs an offline commitment to successfully engage online with its citizens.

Online and offline events are not mutually exclusive; they reinforce each other. To that extent that a civic engagement platform asks for a offline commitment from a city government in order to really get things done. And the same applies the other way around. More and more cities are looking into digital civic engagement solutions to extend their offline efforts. Here you can find out why.

1. Increase interactivity with citizens

Citizens do want to engage, but lack the means to share their meaningful insights and perspectives in an easy, accessible way. Today’s citizen participation opportunities are mostly limited to old school forms, a vote every several years, in-person visits and town hall meetings.

All of these tools should certainly be preserved, but modern technologies allow cities to interact more effectively with their citizens through a civic engagement platform. A comprehensive platform so that civil servants no longer have to deal with several one-way communication channels and, therefore, are able to focus on what’s important: shaping a better urban future together with citizens.

2. Easy and wide access to different citizen groups

Offline events are good to discuss city-related topics in smaller groups. Unfortunately, they merely attract citizens with substantial interests in a specific topic. Others don’t see the need to attend events, or don’t want to upset their agenda.

Online tools are easily accessible, which results in a lower threshold for civic engagement.

That’s where an online civic engagement tool comes in. It enables to citizens to contribute at anytime they want, 24/7, and wherever they are as well. These benefits encourage citizens to take part of a discussion and give a city access to a wide range of citizen groups.

3. Create synergies by bringing city stakeholders together

A city consists not only of its government and citizens. There are many other parties, such as civil society, entrepreneurs, tourists and associations, which are all eager to contribute to the city’s development.

An online platform makes it possible to bring all of these city stakeholders together and to create sustainable development synergies. Of course, it doesn’t eliminate the city’s financial limitations, but helps your city deal more effectively with the available resources.

4. Boost and reward citizens’ engagement easily

What if civic engagement could be fun and easy as well as rewarding?

Take the example of gamification. It’s the use of game mechanics in a non-game context, which makes that citizens can get rewarded for their input. Every action a citizen undertakes online results in an increase of its engagement score. This engagement score leads to citizen badges, indicating the citizen’s status, and opportunities for your city to reward their valuable input with real-life benefits.

5. Measure and analyse to improve civic engagement

City governments have difficulties in analysing and improving their civic engagement efforts. So, in this field too, there is still a lot of room for improvement, since it can easily be done by an online tool.

For instance, with a customisable city dashboard. It provides city representatives with both qualitative and quantitative insights on what’s going on in their community; such as indications of the civic engagement level over time, current hot topics, the most engaged neighbourhoods, the demographics of engaged citizens and many more. And it goes beyond these key city metrics. Actionable tips can be generated in order to make cities smarter.

Do you want to take advantage of online civic engagement in your city?

CitizenLab wants to help your city to tap into the collective intelligence of your citizens. Our citizensourcing software is designed in a way that makes it easy and rewarding for your citizens to co-create their city, which leads to a maximum online civic engagement. CitizenLab allows you thereby to keep track of your citizens’ engagement and to reward them accordingly.

Wanted: your city

We are currently looking for partner cities to roll out pilot projects. In case your city may be interested, click here to ask for more information. We’ll get back to you in max. 4-5 hours.


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