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At times, 2018 felt like an apt year for reflection on digital engagement. It would be impossible to overstate the importance of community engagement in the current global climate. And yet, the increasing focus on – indeed, in some instances mandated – community engagement by local governments and municipalities has driven not only deeper engagement with communities and residents but buoyed the dramatic shift toward digital-first engagement.
If there’s an emblematic high-point to the year, it’s that digital-first engagement was increasingly embraced across our five countries: USA, Canada, UK, and Australia, while making its impact felt in New Zealand.
Twenty-eighteen saw 5.2 million citizens reached using Bang the Table’s digital platform, Engagement HQ, with almost 4400 new projects involving people and local governments across these five countries and more than 150 new organisations choosing to work with Bang the Table to implement digital engagement to connect with their communities.
Redoubling our global impact, 2018 also saw us open the doors in the UK, establishing our localized engagement team of community and stakeholder engagement experts and professionals. We invested heavily to make Bang the Table more approachable to local governments and celebrate our position as genuine thought leaders in the field. Against this evolving backdrop, our platform EngagementHQ continued apace with 10 new feature upgrades that included facilitating a deeper dive into qualitative feedback. Having set the benchmark, we’re working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring you some major innovations in 2019.
With over 11 years leading the field, one changeless constant has endured: our commitment to best-practice community engagement. Participating in IAP2 Australasia awards, 12 out of 22 award winners using Bang the Table’s platform, EHQ, were award recipients for best-practice engagement. This included the winner of the Australasia and International best project for the year, New Zealand Transport Agency. Moreover, in addition to working with IAP2 Canadian organization of the year, in the Digital Cities Survey in the USA, 3 Bang the Table clients were recognized award recipients.
Twenty-eighteen’s ‘best of’ is a hybrid measure of projects that ignited national conversations throughout the year – and the most ardent responses activating local communities and residents to have their say. Through open innovation, enabling organizations to engage their communities online, Bang the Table connected local governments to their communities on some salient challenges facing the world today. Here are some of our most talked about projects of 2018:
• Global engagement around cannabis legislation reached its acme in Canada, the first G7 country to legalize marijuana, where Bang the Table’s engagement platform facilitated national conversations around substance policies. Over seven municipalities in Ontario chose EngagementHQ to inform and sound out their communities on the new regulations on an issue where the stakes around substance policies are paramount for decision makers and community alike.
• In the USA, progressive law enforcement agencies such as in the town of Parker, Colorado, where Police engaged online with their communities regarding public safety, in one of the most innovative, and passionate community engagement projects. While, in the City of Fayetteville, Speak Up Fayetteville’s versatility of online engagement – overlapping projects across issues from transportation, water management to parks and recreation – drew vast numbers of participants to address the city’s changing community needs.
• In the UK, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Greater Cambridge Partnership have combined forces and launched the placemaking campaign, ‘Making Space for People’ with a high number of participants forging community-led city-changing strategies.
Putting communities at the centre of decision-making at a time when trust in government increasingly demands transparency, engagement with communities is vital.
On reflection, 2018 exceeded our expectations and gives us the grounding to flow onto 2019 – and beyond – with the utmost professional dedication to best-practice online community engagement.