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Online engagement portal generates 736 ideas from community members in 6-months

Parker, CO, USA

At a Glance

In the first six months following the launch of Parker Colorado's new online engagement portal, Let's Talk Parker, community members contributed ideas for the town's future and helped define the shape of growth and investment in downtown Parker.

Problem Addressed

The 2017 Parker Citizen Survey asked the community what they felt about various additional ways that the Town could engage and inform residents. These options included virtual town hall meetings, open houses, project information on social media, live streaming of planning commission meetings, and online feedback on initiatives and projects.

The second factor was how online engagement lined up with the Council’s strategic goal on fostering community creativity and engagement. In addition, responses at public hearings on development prompted the Council to consider the voices that were missing from these face-to-face discussions, and find ways to get more voices to join the conversation. With a vibrant culture of community engagement already in place, the Council saw online engagement as the next step to extend participation and bring new dimensions to existing processes.

Once they found a solution for additional community engagement, how would they gain internal buy-in?

Town of Parker used/is using EngagementHQ Community Engagement Software to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

At the onset, a selection committee made up of representatives from each department within the organization identified specific selection criteria and used a ranking system to choose the firm that would help Parker expand participation into the online engagement space.

Representation and buy-in from across departments was a vital component of the journey into online engagement. The Parker team recognized the potential of online engagement for every department, including and not limited to public works, parks and recreation, and community development, and called on the executive management team and department directors to identify champions for the project from within their departments. By building involvement across departments and groups early into the project, the team anticipated and fostered a high rate of adoption and internal collaboration.

The collaboration in Parker’s employee culture infused the project with talent from across ranks and departments. This diversity brought a range of projects to the site from communications, the police department, community development, the urban renewal authority, and the cultural department. This variety of opportunities for public input has contributed to drawing visitors to the site. Participants visiting the site for a particular project could browse through the array of other projects featured, and grow their engagement.

Town Manager Michelle Kivela was instrumental in enabling Parker’s online engagement journey. The openness across leadership levels in the organization began with Kivela’s willingness to try new things and empower her staff.

One of the highlighted successes on the site, My Mainstreet, is a community conversation to help define the shape of growth and investment in downtown Parker. Its objective is to help P3 (Partnering for Parker’s Progress), the Town’s urban renewal authority, to work with local residents, private developers, and the business community to find out what the community wants and what the private market can support.

Touching on priorities that may not always align, this issue can provoke passionate opinions on both sides. The site has brought about a sense of balance between extremes of opinion on either end of the spectrum and marked a noticeable shift in the tone of the conversation about issues replicated on social media. Some have even called out inaccurate information circulating on social media and have directed people to the facts and conversation on Let’s Talk Parker.

Outcomes

  1. On the whole, over 90% responded that they would either be likely or somewhat likely to use the online feedback option.
  2. In the first six months following the launch of Parker Colorado's new online engagement portal, local residents have weighed in on 11 projects, 1082 surveys, and 320 quick polls.
  3. The community has drawn up 68 big ideas for the town’s future and submitted 736 responses on growth and investment in downtown Parker.
  4. The community pinned 459 markers on a virtual map to identify traffic and enforcement issues for local police.
  5. EngagementHQ unlocked the creative potential of a passionate community, supported by effective communications and marketing, internal buy-in, collaboration, and leadership.

Something Unique

“EngagementHQ has been a hit in our community, helping to turn innovative ideas into reality!” – Dannette Robberson, Town of Parker, Colorado

Who Should Consider?

Any government organization that wants to effectively execute citizen engagement efforts for better project planning, to build trust within their community, and to communicate progress to stakeholders.

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