How to create your own project

  • Updated

Resident conversations can move fast, and big events or ad-hoc initiatives can emerge at any moment. Creating your own projects lets you move quickly to connect to what residents are saying, evaluate your messaging, and make decisions.

This article reviews what projects are and how they can be helpful, walks through three different ways you can create a project, and recommends which one is right for you—plus a bonus tip on how to stay updated on all of your projects.


Overview: What projects are and how to use them

Projects are filtered dashboards that focus on whatever issue you choose. Projects can span a range of topics, including:

  • General, recurring policy areas, like the budget or housing

  • Timely issues, like COVID-19 or a severe weather event

  • Issues that are highly specific to your area, like the redevelopment of a local warehouse

When you enter a project, you’ll see all the same widgets as you are used to from your main dashboard, such as volume of interactions, sentiment analysis and breakdown by channels. However, each one will display just the slice of the conversation that relates to the project’s topic.

Whether you want to follow the conversation about an upcoming event or initiative, or to get a sense of what residents feel in advance of a big policy or budget decision, projects help you narrow the focus of the data you receive.

Now, let’s go over how to create the projects you need.

How to create your own projects

To find a list of all projects you already follow or are available for you to follow, head to Projects in the left hand menu navigation. If there’s a topic missing that you want to get more data on, click ‘Create a New Project’ in the top right hand corner.

From there, you have two options. You can define your project using a template, or you can build the search definition from scratch. Each are two different ways of accomplishing the same goal: telling our search engine which items you are most interested in seeing appear in your project dashboard.

Choosing the right creation method for you

If it’s your first (or even second or third(!) time creating a project, we recommend starting from a template. Created by expert analysts at Zencity, they come with pre-defined search rules, helping you get acquainted with the process without jumping immediately into the “fine print.” You can always edit the search rules, so if a template isn’t a perfect fit, you can alter the search rules slightly to product the results you want.


If you have experience defining search rules or are creating a project about a highly specific topic, we recommend starting from scratch. It gives you total control over the instructions you’re giving to the search engine.

Whichever way you choose, follow the steps below to get your new project up and running!

Step-by-step guide: How to create a project

Let’s start by going over how to create a project from a template. After you click ‘Pick a Template:’

  1. Browse our library of project templates, created based on some of the most frequently-created projects

  2. Select the template that most closely matches your issue

  3. Review the search rules and the preview section on the right

  4. Press ‘Edit search rules,’ if you want to customize the search by adding in or taking out a keyword

  5. Hit ‘Continue’ when you’re done

  6. Fill out the final details to fully customize your project: give it a title, define a date range, and upload a picture

  7. Click ‘Create Project’ and you are done!

To get highly specific with your search, try creating a project from scratch. Once you click ‘Customize Rules:’

  1. Select the kind of rule you want to create: Keyword, Topic, or Source.
    Tip: We generally recommend starting with a topic-based rule to define a general category for the search engine, and then creating a second rule that’s keyword-based to add in more definition.

  2. Select the most relevant topic(s) to your issue

  3. Create another search rule, this time as a keyword-based rule

  4. Where it says ‘Look for these,’ enter all the words that could be used across official and unofficial channels to talk about the issue at hand.
    Tip: Make sure to review the tips outlined here to optimize the keywords you're entering.

  5. If you want the search engine to intentionally not display certain items (e.g. you are interested in items about drinking water quality and supply, but not about recreational water activities), enter keywords the project should exclude where it says 'Don't show these'

  6. Add another rule or group to continue refining your search, which you can learn how to do in this article

  7. When you’re done creating your rules and the preview section is displaying items of interest, go ahead and click ‘Continue’

  8. Add in your final details (title, date range and picture)

  9. Click ‘Create Project’ and you will be able to start using your project shortly!

Other ways to create your project

Whether you create your rules from scratch or start from a template, you can always click on the Request Assistance button in the top right corner of the screen at any point in the process. From there, fill out a short form describing the project you want, and a Zencity analyst will create it for you.

Bonus tip: Get project highlights delivered to your inbox

Opt to get regular summaries of the biggest trends and highlights in any of your projects sent right to your inbox with project digests. It’s an easy way to stay on top of how the conversation is developing, especially for projects that are about highly current and “hot button” issues.

Once you set up a project, head to Subscriptions in the left hand menu navigation, scroll down to ‘Custom project digest,’ and then hit ‘Create Digest.’ Add some quick information, like when you want to receive the email, and you’re all set!


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