The purpose of the blog is to examine the use of innovation in various capacities as it relates to the development of more resilient, efficient and economically viable communities/regions. Advancements in web-based communication platforms provide a multitude of opportunities for municipalities and regional governments to expand traditional communication, planning, eoconomic development practices and community engagement processes in order to:
- Enhance inter- and intra-departmental communication.
- More effectively engage specific stakeholders and the public at large.
- Strengthen strategic plan process and policy formation in general.
- Reposition themselves, from the standpoint of economic development competition, by embracing an integrated marketing approach.
- Identify and address community strengths and weaknesses by creating web-based discussion forums and ‘electronic suggestion boxes’ that allow stakeholders to share their thoughts and ideas in a more convenient fashion.
Web-based communication tools can strengthen traditional processes and approaches, allowing municipalities to improve efficiency, effectiveness and dynamism. Let’s take, for example, the strategic planning process. Traditionally, this process can be rigid, laborious and resource-laden, predominantly centered around physical meetings and presentations. This traditional method limits the number of stakeholders that can be involved (either due to the limitations of the meeting space itself or due to personal availability), thus impacting the amount of input that can be received. Additionally, for those who are not able to attend these strategic planning events, it is often difficult to access comments, materials, presentations, etc. after the fact.
Shifting this process to an “all out” web-based platform would make the planning process more accessible, effective and dynamic by:
- Allowing presentations to be made live online.
- Integrating real-time surveys, allowing the planning process facilitators to receive opinions and feedback throughout the process.
- Providing discussion forums for constituents during and after planned online events to talk about key issues, voice concerns, etc.
- Allowing users to access archived materials (including video presentations) throughout the process.
However, this example is one of the more sophisticated options available and, as a result, more costly. Other less-costly options exist for achieving similar purposes, which include, but are not necessary limited to, electronic suggestion boxes, city/regional wiki pages and other online platforms that can encourage community input and engagement and provide similar benefits.
This blog will continue to investigate the application of innovative communication and social media tools as they pertain to municipal operations and economic development practices. In addition, we will also provide timely material addressing current issues, which may or may not be directly tied to this theme. We look forward to incubating a productive dialogue!