The FCC was tasked with an enormous undertaking: developing the National Broadband Plan, which seeks to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband capability. However, developing a plan is not as easy as it sounds… if it ever sounded easy.
As an independent government agency, the FCC is required to make sure that the public is involved in any discussion that leads to rule-making. At the FCC, this used to mean that anyone could bring their suggestions to a window in their building and file what is called a “Public Notice” as part of the public discussion. About a decade ago, the FCC added the electronic comment window to their website where citizens could file their comments online, but it still required a lot of leg work on the part of the public to find the correct information for filing.
The goal, of course, was lowering the barriers to participation by any means necessary and making it even easier and, as a result, the FCC launched broadband.ideascale.gov where the public could contribute their ideas and thoughts on the National Broadband Plan. The result was the highest number of Public Notices every published (more than 60,000 total responses from the public) and they prioritized their plan development around the issues that were most relevant to the public.
“I think Ideascale presents a unique opportunity to government agencies,” Haley Vandyck, Director of Citizen Engagement at the FCC said, “It offers them the prospect of directly communicating with their citizens and the Ideascale platform is such a user-friendly interface that it allows any civilian the chance to truly engage with their government. It’s an incredibly important relationship to establish.”
Unfortunately, the FCC National Broadband Plan was presented in 2010 and isn’t eligible for the 2013 IdeaScale Innovation Awards (although we’ve continued to work with the FCC in the meantime). But they’re a great example of a great project with a tangible impact and a great outline for engaging the public. The more details you can add to the story, the better and one of the winners will have a chance to get a paid vacation to Hawaii. Learn more about the innovation awards here.
If you’d like to learn more about the FCC’s National Broadband Plan case study, you can find it here.
How are you innovating? What categories can you compete in?