granicus_logo_2010.jpgIt’s not often the words transparency and citizen engagement are used in the same sentence, but they are essential elements if you really want to innovate and evolve your community into taking meaningful action. Which is why the folks at Granicus announced new features aimed at empowering its Citizen Participation Suite users to better collect and analyze feedback from their community.

Making Cloud-Based Government a Viable Option

For the past few years, Granicus has made the case for cloud computing at the government level. With cloud computing, they argued, government agencies can defer costs, improve productivity and increase collaboration. Furthermore, with their platform, Granicus provides the cloud-based government transparency tools necessary to spearhead community innovation.

Whether it’s thanks to the Obama Administration’s push for transparent government, or better availability and scalability of cloud software, there’s been a growing interest in online community collaboration within the government sector. Public agencies want to have more in-depth and meaningful dialogues with their citizens online, but traditional social media isn’t solving this problem.

Citizen Participation Thrives on Transparency

The new features in Granicus’ Citizen Participation Suite are focused on bringing together the right combination of crowdsourcing and other civic engagement tools with the aim of making social collaboration work for government. The new features are designed to help government staff members facilitate more productive discussions with members of the public, including:

Discussion Analytics -- Users can analyze public feedback with tools like geo-coding, word tags and demographic filters, which can help government agencies understand where community feedback is coming from and what topics mean the most to them. In turn, these insights can help drive better government decisions and actions.

Projects - The new projects feature combines three powerful community engagement tools into a simple package for community planners allowing governments to educate their community about upcoming projects and allow for public input online through idea forums, discussions, and surveys -- all for a single project.

Granicus lets residents submit ideas for community improvement. Citizens can vote, comment and share other ideas, helping local governments prioritize what’s most important.

eComment -- Granicus also upgraded the usability and design of its flagship citizen participation tool called eComment. Now, Citizen Participation Suite users have an easier way to solicit participation in their public meetings using a “Feedback” widget on their website. This widget simplifies participation by allowing citizens to comment on upcoming meeting agenda items electronically before the meeting, through video or text, instead of attending the meeting in person. Current eComment users will have access to these upgrades for free.

eComment provides an easy way to add voices to the democratic process and makes participation in public meetings convenient.

A Civic Action

By combining Granicus’ public engagement tools into a single solution, governments of any size are empowered to streamline community collaboration workflows, simplifying how agencies manage and measure large volumes of citizen requests and inquiries related to projects, plans and public meeting agenda items.

At a time when the need for more public works are confronted by a need for a reduction in government spending, tools like Granicus’ Citizen Participation Suite help give citizens a voice and a chance to take civic action.