Introducing Engagement Commons [beta]

A few weeks ago, Code for America unveiled one of our latest program offerings: Engagement Commons.

Now, we’re hoping that the talented, dedicated members of the GovLoop community can help us take this project to the next level.

What is Engagement Commons?

With civic engagement becoming an increasingly critical component of successful governance in the 21st century, governments around the world are seeking to leverage technology as a tool for citizen participation. But civic leaders can face real challenges finding, evaluating, and deploying the right tools in the absence of good information.

Engagement Commons is designed to help address this problem.

The Engagement Commons site is a directory listing new and cutting edge applications being used by governments across the country to engage with citizens. It also catalogs experiments in citizen outreach and engagement through the addition of new stories by governments and civic innovators.

While the site is still very much a work in progress, we want to invite the GovLoop community to jump in, start trying things out, and tell us how to make the platform even better.

To date, we’ve curated more than 150 engagement-focused application entries in Engagement Commons. But simply cataloguing these tools is not enough. Now we need to add a layer of context: the stories and narratives behind how these apps are facilitating real results in our communities.

Take for example this story now featured in Engagement Commons about Boston Public Schools and Community PlanIt: in 2011, when Boston Public Schools wanted input on reforming the district’s accountability framework, they quickly realized traditional engagement strategies — a series of poorly-attended town hall meetings — just weren’t working. So, they adopted Community PlanIt: a free online platform designed to reimagine community participation in local planning by introducing game-like elements. Over the course of seven weeks, more than 400 community members of all ages generated 2600 comments and sparked conversations on topics from social media policy to racial bias in teaching. Based on this success, there are plans to repurpose Community PlanIt in Detroit; Akron, Ohio; San Jose, Calif.; and Philadelphia.

We need your help to capture stories like this to make this important resource even more valuable.

This is just the start

Do you know of a government looking for new strategies or tools for engagement? Are you a government leader that wants to try a new strategy for engaging with citizens and taxpayers? Do you know of an innovative solution being used by a government somewhere for engagement, or have a story that you think should be shared about what innovative governments are doing in this area?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, visit the Engagement Commons site to see the listing of solutions that others are using. Add a new app or story to the site — it is, after all, a wiki and user content is how the site will be made even better.

The GovLoop community is made up of some of the smartest and most dedicated people working in the public sector. We can’t wait to see all of the great things that you can do with this important resource.

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