How to Create Change with Participatory Government

citizen engagement
image courtesy of Matt Rife via flickr

Active citizen government has many names: citizen engagement, participatory government, and open government. The significance lies less in the name attached to the campaign, and more to making the most of this citizen focused innovation. Connecting directly to citizenry has many benefits, if you know how to effectively engage.

Improve Transparency and Accountability Publicly establishing a direct route for all citizens to connect to decision makers will greatly improve public opinion. A centralized, cloud-based forum for civic ideation is the ideal location to address the public. Accessible to members of a department or organization, a town, city, state, or nation, this forum can present issues, share data and resources, and provide a centralized location for ideation.

Innovation Sometimes getting to the most ground-breaking, disruptive, and exciting ideas requires taking a step back. Leveraging citizens is the best way to find new ways of facing problems. Legislation, regulation, and policy can all be improved through open government.

Positive and Active Polling “People around the world consistently indicate that they are not content simply to engage with government through periodic elections,” suggests the Open Government Guide. Citizens want to remain a part of government decisions, even outside of election season. Where engagement falls short, the cause can often be simple: not knowing how to participate. Through the conversation, find out what the public wants.

Before engagement is launched, there will be challenges to plan for.

Outreach Finding and connecting to your crowd will be one of the largest, and most important aspects of launching a participatory government campaign. Determine the desired output of the campaign to know which crowd to draw from:

• An internal crowd of civic employees to improve process and reduce the budget
• An external citizen crowd to innovate large scale governmental changes in any area
• A focused crowd of enthusiasts and experts coming together to discuss a focus and work together in ideating and exploring new methods before implementation

Maintaining engagement It’s important to keep participants from becoming disengaged. Success relies on maintained attention, and developed dialogue – rich data will come out of extended discussion.

From data to development Which ideas should be implemented? Should priority go to the most popular ideas? The ideas with the most discussion around them? Or do suggestions require higher level refinement?

Learn more of the potential benefits, and determine how to handle the challenges of your first citizen engagement with the IdeaScale Government Starter Package here.

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