Increasingly, the old days of town hall meetings is giving way to electronic means for getting input from residents. Though this means of bridging the gap between decision makers and the people they represent first became common during the pandemic it’s here to stay.
With that in mind, we found a new report from PublicInput, a leader in community engagement software for government, to be of particular interest. It showed the findings of a survey conducted in May and June 2022 that reflected responses from about 1,000 U.S. residents.
As PublicInput’s founder and CEO Jay Dawkins said, “Surprisingly, only a third of residents reported being comfortable providing input at virtual meetings, so it’s important to consider meetings as one option among many for hearing from more voices.” The other options he had in mind included e-mail, phone, texts and social media.
Here are a few of the key results from the survey taken from a press release announcing its publication:
● A large majority (71%) of respondents reported they are not being “asked” by government for their input or feedback. While governments have relied on both traditional and digital forms of notification to solicit public input, e.g., (news media, public notices, newsletters, website pages, and social media), residents are not aware of or monitoring those channels. Instead, residents prefer a direct, or personalized approach
● Residents want to be more informed before and after contributing their input or feedback to their local government. Nearly 18% of respondents said they do not offer input to their local government when asked. Of this group, nearly half (48%) said they do not provide input to government requests because they lack the information to contribute an informed response.
● Digital government outreach methods are meeting resident engagement preferences and may increase public input and feedback. Most respondents (70%) stated they were comfortable joining virtual public meetings. Furthermore, the survey findings suggest that residents are more likely to contribute feedback in online deliberations than they would in an in-person gathering.
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