1. Social media
Number one seems obvious, and with good reason: social media are one of the most powerful tools for municipalities to reach their residents. As such, many municipalities already use platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. By sharing news and updates and answering questions online, municipalities can communicate quickly and efficiently with both citizens and businesses.
Through social media, municipalities easily connect with a large number of people. In addition, it is now easier than ever to respond quickly to questions and comments. This makes communication with residents not only more efficient, but also more transparent. Moreover, this way municipalities increase residents' involvement in what happens in their area. And there are even more ways to do that.
2. Online polls
Municipalities that are curious how residents think about new plans can use an online poll. Polls are easy to create and fill out, which means that people can easily participate and make their voices heard.
In this way, municipalities can quickly collect feedback and incorporate it into the decision-making process. This increases involvement in municipal policy and provides valuable insights into residents' needs and desires.
Another way municipalities can involve people in what they do is through public online forums. These forums allow residents to discuss issues that affect them and provide feedback to the municipality. By participating in these discussions, citizens can make their voices heard and municipalities stay abreast of what is going on in towns and cities.
The use of public forums is thus an effective way to increase involvement in municipal decision-making while strengthening the process of democracy.
4. Digital citizen participation
Digital citizen participation platforms provide a structured and transparent way for municipalities to collaborate with their residents in developing policies. These platforms allow citizens to submit ideas, provide feedback on proposed policies and have their voices heard in the decision-making process.
An example of such citizen participation is the online platform Furban, which allows residents to work with their municipality and neighbors to create designs for their own street or neighborhood. Another promising application, still under development, involves an app that allows residents to participate with the municipality on local plans and policies through a digital double of themselves.
Online participation initiatives such as these make decision-making more inclusive and increase people's involvement in their own communities. By using an online platform for citizen participation, municipalities can thus strengthen the democratic process while enhancing collaboration with citizens.
5. Webinars and livestreams
Finally, webinars and livestreams are effective ways for municipalities to inform and engage their residents. These live events allow residents to listen to municipal officials and experts, while at the same time asking questions and providing feedback. This allows people to interact directly with their municipality and gain insight into decisions affecting their communities.
A webinar is easy to organize, making it a low-threshold way to engage residents, regardless of their location or availability. And those who cannot be there live can simply watch it back afterwards.
Invite residents to join the digital channel!
Clearly, the use of technology offers municipalities numerous opportunities to engage residents on important issues in their communities. From social media and polls to forums and webinars, they let governments communicate effectively with their citizens and make decision-making more inclusive.
It is important for citizens to actually start using these digital channels, make their voices heard and share ideas and feedback with the government. It is therefore up to municipalities to actively promote these means of communication to residents and invite everyone to use them. After all, municipalities themselves also benefit from more involvement and a healthy relationship with the residents they serve.