Engaging on- and offline

Earlier this month The City of Summit, NJ announced an additional way to share feedback online during the Summit re:Vision Master Plan re-examination process. The city is partnering with coUrbanize, a community engagement platform focused on urban planning.  The platform will not be offered in lieu of traditional engagement efforts, but will augment those.

According to Summit Mayor Nora Radest:

The Summit re:Vision tool provides residents an online way to engage in the Master Planning process…

Input from residents and other members of the business community will ensure the success of this vital project; this tool will allow for the effective gathering and processing of that information.

To read more click here. To check out The City of Summit website click here.

What Makes a City “Smart”?

Kris Hartley weighs in, pushing for a broader metric for cities’ smarts than mere efficiency:

Appreciating the complex and paradoxical dimensions of smart cities can help improve human welfare, particularly when leaders and citizens look beyond efficiency. Rather than optimizing discrete goals, the new architecture of smart cities should be oriented towards broader social and political outcomes. Planner and academic Murtaza H. Baxamusa recently stated, “To be effective, urban planning needs to dig deeper than obscure code, pretty pictures and jumbling data. It needs to make a difference in the lives of all people” . . .

While technology improves certain aspects of business and governance, its broader potential should not be undersold. The new ‘smart’ implies extension of opportunities to the disadvantaged, broadening of political participation, and enabling of social forces to shape urban space for the greater good.

Hartley is working on his PhD at the National University of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of the Philippines Diliman. His recent piece at NewGeography.com is here.

Contributor: Ben Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy Alumnus, MPP ’16

Creating a Data-Driven Culture

Michael Nutter served two terms as mayor of Philadelphia.  During his tenure he sought to foster a culture of transparency and a coordinated strategy for incorporating data and evidence into city operations. Nutter spoke with Stephen Goldsmith at Governing:

A part of this is really all about transparency and openness and integrity, but also a better relationship with your citizens. Initially, people just thought we would do a little bit. But we have hundreds of datasets that have now been released from virtually every department and agency in the government. I’m not sure if we even send out press releases anymore about the release of data. It’s become the norm.

 Read more at Governing here. You may also like Goldsmith’s piece from last year on Karl Dean, former mayor of Nashville.

Contributor: Ben Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy Alumnus, MPP ’16.

Webinar: Online Engagement

Head’s up for a webinar offered by MetroQuest looking at how the city of Abbotsford, BC has implemented a successful online engagement called Abbotsfwd.

When: Tuesday, June 14, 2016
1:00-1:45 pm ET, 10:00- 10:45 am PT

Registration is required, but free of charge. You can register here.

More from the Metroquest description of the webinar:

This highly visual 45-minute webinar will present research findings and proven best practices, practical tips and award-winning case studies to guide agencies towards the successful application of online community engagement for planning projects. Participants will walk away with an understanding about how to leverage digital engagement to achieve unprecedented results using cost-effective tools. This session will feature our special guests Abbotsforward who will be online to talk about the innovative ways they combined online and targeted face to face community engagement to involve over 8,000 community members in the creation of an official plan for Abbotsford, BC. They will also share advice for agencies seeking to improve the breadth and effectiveness of their community engagement efforts and talk about the positive difference that broad community support is making in their implementation process.

Democracy Map: Where to engage

Becoming a civically engaged citizen just got a little bit easier according to Chris Haller, Founder and CEO of Urban Interactive Studio.  Haller refers to DemocracyMap, a new initiative from Phil Ashlock, who has also been involved in Open311 and CivicCommons. DemocracyMap coordinates local boundary information and interfaces to help citizens discover and understand civic entities for a specific location:

The current DemocracyMap prototype provides primary contact information for every city, county, and state in the U.S. as well as contact information for all state and national legislators, all governors, all county officials, and over 100,000 municipal officials. State and national legislators have been provided by the Sunlight Congress & Open States APIs, and everything else has been assembled using disparate government sources and web scraper scripts.

Through the initiative, citizens can identify who and what their government is by searching for their address and or using the GPS location provided by their smart phone. To read more click here.

To access a demo of the current DemocracyMap coverage click here.

Contributor: Brian Stewart, Pepperdine School of Public Policy, MPP Candidate ’17.