As part of my work on the Council Initiative on Public Engagement, I’ve found that while we have done extensive work on engagement and feel confident this work will continue to provide excellent service to Edmontonians, some improvements could be made in how we respond to citizens’ needs for more information in a faster and more accessible format. Streamlining this service increases efficiency and reduces cost to both user and provider.
There are websites (ex: Citygram and GovDelivery) and software that people can opt into to receive notification through text or email on various issues (ex: permits issues, rezoning applications, neighbourhood meetings, traffic disruptions, etc.). Software platforms that allow users to subscribe to a notification system to receive important updates are an efficient and relatively inexpensive way to share information.
Therefore I made the following motion at the March 21st City Council meeting:
That Administration provide a report on the following:
1) Any research we have completed on notification and engagement services that are already available.
2) Any conversations that have occurred with those service providers to determine how we might be able to use the various platforms to allow Edmontonians to opt-in to learn more about what is happening in their community and city.
3) Ways we can work with notification and engagement service providers to expand the types of information (ex: city-run meetings, community events, etc.) people can receive.
4) Ways we can work with those providers to refine how people opt-in to the notification system (ex: selecting information by community or a specific radius).
5) Timelines to provide the necessary information via Open Data so that these services can expand their offerings and allow the City to engage more people.
Currently Citygram has an Edmonton subscription however this only includes subdivision applications, building permits, and traffic disruptions. As part of this report, I’m hoping there will be recommendations made to expand our notification system. I’m looking forward to this report as I feel it will serve to fill a gap in our public engagement process.
Written by A. Knack and K. Machin