Public Engagement & Consultation Summit


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Open North's presentation to the 2nd Annual Public Engagement and Consultation Summit in Toronto, Ontario on November 8th, 2012.

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Public Engagement & Consultation Summit

  1. 1. Implementing Meaningful Citizen Engagement Under Time and Resource Constraints Public Consultation & Engagement Summit November 8, 2012
  2. 2. What is Open North?• Canadian nonprofit that builds websites to help governments and citizens engage with each other• Follows two main strategies: 1. Improve access to government information 2. Make participation easy, meaningful and fun
  3. 3. Why do web apps matter to government?
  4. 4. ComparisonOnline Consultation Offline Consultation• specific, quantifiable answers from • answers in a variety of formats from simulations survey questions with limited choices• centralized access to citizen’s input • input distributed across many channels
  5. 5. ComparisonOnline Consultation Offline Consultation• generate results quickly regardless • dependent on the availability of time of timing and a specific location• can obtain the same level of detail • detail of answers may vary from from each participant participant to participant
  6. 6. ComparisonOnline Consultation Offline Consultation• one time cost to set up, host, and • need to hire individual staff to deliver responses interact with residents and record answers
  7. 7. Evaluating Online ToolsHow can an online tool help a municipality engage itsresidents in its budget process?Evaluation Criteria• Shorter consultation process• Lower implementation costs• Less demand on human resources• Same or greater participation• Same or greater satisfaction among residents
  8. 8. Case Study: The Plateau Mont-Royal borough of Montreal
  9. 9. Case Study: BudgetPlateau.comUsed Open North’s Citizen Budget, a customizablebudget simulator, to consult residents online
  10. 10. PreparationChoose the right data• Let citizens play with the real numbers to help them understand the tradeoffs necessary to balance a budget• Validate the data you will consult on with elected officials to ensure that the municipality will be asking questions that matter now
  11. 11. PreparationAsk good questions• Ask about concrete changes to services – changes to the library’s hours, not changes to its total budget• Limit questions to the subjects that residents care about most• Make clear how changes to the budget will affect service levels• Offer residents a scale of options – ask how much to spend on new library books, not whether to spend• Use everyday language – avoid jargon
  12. 12. Results• Out of 100,000 residents: • Over 4,400 visited the consultation’s website • Over 700 submitted in 2012, up from 415 in 2011• In 2011, 49% of submissions were made in the first week, and 73% in the first half of the 2-month process• Positive response from residents and local media
  13. 13. Results• Residents want results: 70% opposed a new general local tax, but two-thirds approved of a new local tax tied to a specific capital project
  14. 14. Benefits: Realistic Demands• Challenges residents to satisfy their priorities while balancing the budget• Puts citizens in the shoes of elected officials whose job it is to do the sameThanks to this unique online tool, citizens can engage in aneducational exercise similar to the budget choices we face.At the end of the consultation, we will be able to makechoices that take into account peoples concerns. Luc Ferrandez, Plateau Mont-Royal mayor
  15. 15. Benefits: Clear Reporting• Automatically creates easy-to-read reports, which clearly state the aggregate results• Collects demographic information so you can understand local trends and identify communities of interest• No stack of paper surveys to process, or free-text emails to categorize and analyze
  16. 16. Benefits: Easy for Residents• Convenient – Residents participate at a time and place of their choice• No time limit – No need to raise your hand and wait to be recognized• No pressure – Read up on issues before voicing your opinion (and don’t worry about public speaking)
  17. 17. Keys to a great consultationSpread the word• Announce the consultation at a public meeting, and time it with a press release to get media coverage• Link to it on your municipality’s website• Promote it on Facebook and Twitter• Use your municipal newsletter Sources of traffic for
  18. 18. Keys to a great consultationFollow up• Announce the key results of the consultation• Explain how the results affect your decisions• Tell participants about other ways to engage, like upcoming public meetings
  19. 19. ResourcesParticipedia www.participedia.netParticipateDB www.participatedb.comDigital Engagement Cookbook www.digitalengagement.orgDigital Engagement Guide www.digitalengagement.infoYour Local Budget www.yourlocalbudget.orgParticipatory Budgeting Project www.participatorybudgeting.orgOpen North www.opennorth.caCitizen Budget www.citizenbudget.comBeth Noveck: TED Talk on Government as a Platform