Online community engagement is generally associated with crowdsourcing community ideas, debating policy issues or taking surveys or polls to understand the depth of community views.
Some cities go further and use online tools to educate and mobilize the community to help map and quantify an issue as the first part of addressing it.
An example of this is Hopewell Township in New Jersey who have been getting their community involved in mapping the location and condition of trees threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer pest invasion, an infestation responsible for the death of many Ash Trees in the USA.
“Response to our first issue – the Emerald Ash Borer invasion – has been positive and swift. A non-native, invasive species, the Emerald Ash Borer beetle will kill Ash trees in our town. To save the trees, we have used our EngagementHQ website to show residents how to identify Ash trees, explore relevant information, and map their tree locations. Once the Ash Trees have been mapped, the municipality can apply the life-saving treatments to Township-owned ash trees, and inform private residents what they can do for their own Ash trees. Our EngagementHQ website has made information gathering more time and cost efficient, and has centralized our community response. Both will help the Township government make better decisions in the future.” Committee Member of the Township, Vanessa Sandom.
To date 139 pins have been placed in the map by community members and 186 people have drawn valuable information from the site on the management of the pest.
Please feel free to reach out if you’d like to do something similar.