Civic engagement brings communities together to address issues of public interest and co-create solutions. It involves individual community members, elected officials, and other stakeholders taking an active role in creating a change in their community. This can include:
By fostering reciprocity between community members and local governments, civic engagement helps shift how power and decision-making is shared.
Civic engagement is the foundation of a strong democratic culture. It’s important because it has the potential to empower individual community members to engage in the issues that matter to them. In turn, it helps improve policies, programs, and services and brings communities together by working towards a common goal.
CitizenLab’s mission is to build stronger democracies by making public decision-making more inclusive, participatory, and responsive. Our platform has helped 300+ governments and organizations with their civic engagement journeys.
Using their CitizenLab-powered public participation platform, Wichita heard directly from residents on affordable housing needs in their community. Using civic engagement they explored how to improve the quality of the existing affordable housing while also adding new options to address changing needs.
Philadelphia’s Edit the City! collaborative used civic engagement to collectively reimagine main streets as public spaces in an effort to support small business recovery and community revitalization. Using unique storytelling and placemaking strategies, this project shows just how innovative civic engagement can be.
To make the most of our communities’ collective intelligence, and to allocate our time and resources in a more efficient and sustainable way, we have to maximize the way we use digital solutions.
This guide will walk you through the basics of digital community engagement, but it’s meant to serve as a resource for beginners and seasoned practitioners alike.
Here is what some of our clients are saying about CitizenLab:
"A lot of times in local government everyone is excited about a new product but not everyone is trained to know and engage with the new initiative. The Government Success Manager from CitizenLab really helped us to have people engaged across departments to make sure this program is successful.”
Director of Neighborhood Engagement, City of Lancaster, Pennsylvania (USA)
“We presented the platform to our leadership team, and they absolutely lost their minds. They are so pumped for the site and the work it will enable us to do for the Comp Plan. Your team deserves a huge thank you for being so incredibly responsive and flexible and working with us to stand our platform up on such a short timeline. We really appreciate it!”
City of Seattle
Office of Planning & Community Development (WA, USA)
"The way the data and stories were mapped geospatially helped communicate the need for pedestrianization to City Hall’s leaders. Suddenly, decision-makers could see themselves in the data through relatable stories that innovatively measured human experience and made the case for maintaining the elements that made them possible."
Edit the City! team
" With our digital community engagement platform, we have the opportunity for real-time feedback that meets the needs of the community – they can engage whenever it works for them, in multiple ways, because the platform is always up and running. "
Crandall O. Jones
Municipal Administrator of the Municipality of Norristown, Pennsylvania (USA)
"I am immensely pleased that so many people made their voices heard and shared their ideas with us. The numerous positive ideas strengthen our policy and ensure that we can set priorities that reflect reality. The user-friendly and well-arranged platform that CitizenLab has certainly contributed to the success of our participation initiative.”
Mayor, City of Leuven (Belgium)
“When you drill down into the functionality you see that CitizenLab is more flexible, visually appealing, and user-friendly... I feel the way CitizenLab’s platform is set up fosters a positive participation environment [and] the fact that the back office is so easy to use has been a massive bonus because it doesn’t scare anyone away, no matter their comfort level with technology.”
Digital Services Team Leader (Stirling, UK)