Technology and Community Engagement

There’s a great deal of emerging research that shows how communities are using technology to build stronger connections between citizens and residents, and to better engage citizens and residents in solving local problems.

A great example of this research is a report from the National League of Cities and the Knight Foundation, “Bright Spots in Community Engagement.”  This study looks at what 14 different communities are doing to build a more engaged citizenry.  One of the key lessons from the report notes that “We learned, too, that the more networks and representatives from all facets of the community are invited to the mix, the greater the benefits to community well-being. Drawing a larger and more diverse range of engaged citizens into community participation requires new tools and strategies, particularly those that tap the power of technology, to have the transformative impact we document in this report.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Community organizing and empowerment, from a traditional approach, is difficult — door-to-door appeals are costly to implement, and can be inefficient in today’s world where many families are not home in the evenings and on weekends.  It’s hard today to find ways to get community members to attend meetings, as well.

Technologies like Magnify can help — for organizers, coordinating people to help solve community problems can be conducted 24/7, and at very low cost.  For citizens and residents, they can participate in engagement efforts at a time (and place) that is convenient for them, and they can see how their participation helps to resolve community problems.