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Securing Representation in Citizen Engagement: From Town Halls to a Data-Driven Approach

Bar Harbor, ME, USA


2 Thousand USD

Project Status

Operational since 2017

At a Glance

Bar Harbor used a citizen engagement platform to increase participation and representation in surveys about important town issues.

Problem Addressed

Unlike many cities, Bar Harbor, ME has never had a lack of citizen input. On issues ranging from land development to parking, residents used town meetings and online forums to voice opinions. While successful in getting input, audiences were typically unpredictable and in many cases, not reflective of the overall community demographics. This arrangement led to some citizens expressing frustration that their voices were not heard or taken into consideration.

Bar Harbor used/is using Polco's civic engagement technology to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

To fix this problem, the Town worked with Polco to create one central location to gather citizen input in a comprehensive way – helping the Town use data to understand who participated in citizen engagement efforts, and who didn’t. In 3 months, over 5% of the population was registered and using the platform. This has helped Bar Harbor verify and document the concerns of its residents, especially residents below the age of 40. This has helped the community strengthen its strategic approach to engaging residents on important local issues, and has led to a higher level of confidence when making decisions that impact the community.


  1. In just 3 months over 5 percent of the population was registered and using the platform.
  2. Increased engagement with younger residents, especially under age 40.
  3. Higher level of confidence when making decisions that impact the community.

Something Unique

The engagement technology that Bar Harbor is using can be modified to solicit public feedback on nearly any project or program.

Who Should Consider?

Medium and small cities seeking to meaningfully engage with citizens & increase representation in civic engagement efforts.

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