Local governments are tasked with some of the toughest decisions for future-proof policy and program planning. Making those decisions behind closed boardroom doors, in silos, is not the solution. Turning to community members and tapping into real-time community data is a better alternative. A digital community engagement platform will get you more data, speed up data processing, and makes it easier to extract actionable insights.
Data-driven decision-making offers a myriad of benefits, including:
- Data provides an objective foundation for decision-making
- Data helps identify trends and areas of concern
- Data shows the effectiveness of your policies and programs
- Data increases transparency and accountability
- Data improves resource allocation and long-term planning
Let’s unpack each of these benefits.
5 ways online engagement leads to better, data-driven decisions
1. Online engagement provides an objective foundation for decision-making
As a decision-maker, you want to avoid relying on personal biases, assumptions, or the opinion of ten loud residents when tasked with creating programs or policies for your community. After all, these opinions may not reflect the diverse experiences and ideas of your larger community, which might lead to wrong investments, disgruntled residents, and you having to start all over again. That’s why it’s important to engage more people in these decision-making processes.
By using a digital community engagement platform like CitizenLab to meet people online, you have the chance to engage more of your community (12x more, on average) and create more objective data sets. In turn, this can help you make more informed, accurate decisions that reduce risks while also increasing impact in your community and therefore improving trust between the government and the public.
2. Data from online engagement helps identify trends and areas of concern
When you have more data from your community, you also gain the power to identify patterns and trends that otherwise may have gone unnoticed. These trends can help you spot clear areas of concern and prioritize resources effectively to address issues in a timely manner.
CitizenLab’s insights are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing which will help you and your team accurately and efficiently spot those trends through visual keyword maps. Think of it like having a data analyst by your side to help you make sense of your community’s input. Governments using CitizenLab’s platform spend 55% less time on reporting so they can instead focus on the bigger picture, and anticipate their community’s future needs to plan accordingly.
3. Data shows the effectiveness of your policies and programs
As we all know, creating a policy or program is not the final step in any decision-maker’s journey – you also have to evaluate and potentially make adjustments.
When you engage your community online through a platform like CitizenLab’s, you’re able to easily follow up on projects in the same place to determine whether policies and programs are achieving their intended goals. By doing so, you can identify areas where those changes have created a positive impact and areas where improvements or changes are needed to better serve the community.
This can also help you take a leaner approach to follow up on services, to ensure they still meet a community’s changing needs. In turn, the community members that have engaged in a project on your online platform will appreciate having a central place to return for updates and continued engagement.
4. Online engagement increases transparency and accountability
On average, only about 4 in 10 people trust their government and only 4 in 10 believe they would have the chance to voice their opinion on local government decisions impacting their community, according to the OECD’s Building Trust to Reinforce Democracy report.
Thankfully, a platform like CitizenLab enables community members to voice their opinions and interact with their local leaders. And that engagement data can then inform decisions and help leaders demonstrate that their actions are based on community feedback, not their own personal agendas. This type of transparency can help improve public trust because connecting decisions to data shows accountability. In turn, this can help build support for your government initiatives, and create a community that engages continuously.
5. Data improves resource allocation and long-term planning
With tightening budgets, rising costs, and new challenges to sustainability, governments must find ways to efficiently allocate limited resources. Data-driven decision-making can help ensure that resources are prioritized for the areas that most need it, in accordance with community priorities.
Creating plans – from comprehensive and local plans, to mobility and climate plans – based on data from your online engagement projects can ensure more future-proof plans. Planning for the long-term using the insights from your online engagement platform can help avoid costly mistakes, and help you decide how to better allocate resources over time.
Make better decisions using data from your online engagement platform
Data that comes directly from your community can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your policies and programs so that you’re meeting both your internal goals and the expectations of your community. Long gone are the days when it was hard to reach people – you can now meet them online to engage more of your community, collect their feedback and input, easily analyze it with the help of evolving technology, and boost the equity of your final decisions as a result.
Investing in online community engagement = funds well spent
It’s clear that adding online participation to your engagement toolbox positively impacts your decision-making. More inclusive and equitable decisions will lead to more support and trust, and ultimately increase your return on investment. But more and better data are just a few of the examples that make online engagement worth investing in. Want to learn more?
Download your copy of our newest resource: the ROI of online community engagement.