Setting Engagement Goals and Choosing the Right Approach When Preparing to Collect Input

Shasa McCarogher
Shasa McCarogher
  • Updated

When attempting to gather citizen feedback, it is important to first establish engagement project outcomes, and set goals for the desired insights and participation rates you wish to achieve.


The IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum offers a valuable framework for choosing the most appropriate level of engagement for various situations. Here's a breakdown of the five phases and how Zencity Engage can support each:


1. Inform: Sharing information (one-directional) with the public about a project, including background information, process steps, important dates and multimedia resources communicates a sense of transparency and ensures the public is accurately informed.  Consider setting up a Zencity Engage project page to inform the public and establish a home base for future updates and invitations to participate in consultative and collaborative exercises.


When to use: When raising awareness is the primary goal, or time constraints limit more in-depth engagement.


2. Consult: Seeking citizen feedback on specific options or proposals can provide you with the insights necessary to make key decisions about your initiative. Setting up a new Engagement in Zencity gives you the opportunity to directly collect information from a wide cross-section of residents.  We recommend choosing question types that match the format of data that will be most useful in decision making.  Engage supports quantitative, qualitative (open-ended), numeric, image-based, budgeting, map-based, matrix/scale and ranking-based questions.


When to use: When seeking to understand the public’s priorities and concerns, in a manner where responses are received by the government privately and kept confidential.


3. Involve: Working collaboratively, and in an ongoing manner alongside citizens can identify key challenges, points of contention or recommendations. Leverage Zencity Engage's subscription system to build long term connection and Q&A Boards and discussion topics for facilitated two-way online discussions.


When to use: When exploring various options and citizen expertise can significantly impact the outcome.


4. Collaborate: Partnering with citizens on ideation and consensus-building can reveal new potential solutions and reveal consensus on key decision-making processes, especially when residents vote, comment and interact with each other and the government organization in the same space. Zencity Engage's Idea Boards enables real-time suggestion and voting with citizens.


When to use: When complex decisions require creative citizen input and understanding consensus is important to shared ownership of solutions.


5. Empower: Giving citizens control over some decisions or resources places an all-important sense of ownership in the hands of citizens.  While Engage’s participatory budgeting tool can be used in a consultative manner to simply communicate priorities, it can also be employed in scenarios where small groups or the wider public can exercise control over the portion of government spend on key initiatives


When to use: When decisions have significant community impacts and empowering citizens aligns with overall goals.

Remember, the best approach often combines multiple items on the spectrum and always depends on the specific project, available resources, and desired outcomes. By understanding the IAP2 spectrum and utilizing Zencity Engage's versatile tools, local governments can effectively engage citizens and build stronger communities.

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