The research which this article refers to is a valuable tool for the council, far more valuable than than this article implies. Its real value for me is that it provides a baseline for where we are at with how we engage with the community at this point in time. This means we can track our improvement over the next few years.
A few stand out stats for me were:
- 17% of people were not aware of anyway in which to engage with the council; while 45% said social media was a way to engage
- Frightening but 70% of participants had never engaged with the council in any way, of those who had engaged with council – 25% had used social media (that was the highest)
- In terms of what people thought was the best way to engage with council, the highest was 78% social media followed closely by 74% contact with councillors.
- Participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with the opportunity to participate in the council decision making process – 34% were satisfied or very satisfied, 42% were neutral and 25% dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.
Obviously social media is going to be an important tool for engaging with the community and I am sure its value will increase in time especially with that 70% of people who have never engaged with the council! I think when we learn how to use the tools we have better we will easily improve the level of satisfaction people have with their participation in decision making and get more people engaging too. Of course the flow on effect of that is that the expectations around engagement will also increase. This is why we need an engagement strategy which is something I have been advocating for since I first stood for council and we will hopefully make some progress on soon.
People don’t always get what I mean when I talk about community engagement – some people think I just mean do more submissions on stuff. That’s not what I mean at all. Quality community engagement is about taking a design thinking approach to decision making. Design thinking is about working with the customer as you develop your product so that you develop something the customer actually wants. That’s the essence of it anyway and I am sure you can see why that makes sense for council to use it in their decision making.