According to the City's Resident Survey, 30% of residents are satisfied with their opportunity to engage in decisions (26% are dissatisfied, with the remainder neutral). Resident engagement rates as the top priority for improvement within the area of city communications, which led to the creation of an objective in the Citywide Business Plan: "Expand resident engagement in activities throughout the City, including the Citywide Business Plan and budget review processes."
In pursuit of this objective, staff created a Resident Engagement Committee representing the broad cross-section of departments that are involved in resident engagement around projects, policies, and plans/budgets. Some problems that were defined by this committee included challenges in reaching a diverse cross-section of residents, uneven use of and awareness of technology tools for resident engagement, and lack of collaboration and coordination across departments in resident engagement. During the last 18 months, the committee has identified many low-cost, collaborative improvements that can be made internally to resident engagement, including creating a unified brand and a toolkit for staff.
However, resident engagement is a rapidly evolving and innovating field, reflecting changing demographics, technology, and attitudes. The City recognizes that the business community is creating many cutting edge approaches that could engage a cross-section of residents (including those that have been hard to reach) as well as deliver feedback that is useful to staff and elected officials.
The City seeks a solution that would have the following outcomes:
- Potential for engaging a significant sample of residents representing a diverse cross-section of the community across race, income, age, geography, and other demographic factors
- Potential for targeting outreach and feedback gathering to specific groups of residents (geographically or demographically)
- Ability to summarize feedback and deliver insights to stakeholders
- Flexibility to utilize across a variety of topics and feedback areas, and to use in tandem with other engagement methods
- User-friendly from both a resident and city employee perspective