August 26, 2019 – The City is taking public engagement into the digital age with the launch of LetsTalkWilsonville.com, a “virtual City Hall” where community members can provide direct input on current City projects.
City governments rely heavily on public testimony, neighborhood meetings, town halls, and other “offline” methods to gather input on priorities and new initiatives. Wilsonville continues to embrace these traditional methods. Online engagement, though, has proven more difficult even though people have better access to information than ever before.
“Our City website is full of great information, but isn’t designed for two-way communication,” said Miranda Bateschell, Planning Director. “This platform is designed specifically to solicit and receive public feedback.”
LetsTalkWilsonville.com hosts every active City project seeking public input; visitors may provide input at their convenience, 24 hours a day.
“We want people to add their perspective on projects that matter to them,” said Bill Evans, Communications and Marketing Manager. “This platform gives our project managers the ability to set polls, surveys and other mechanisms to collect input that informs the project.”
Each project page includes a brief description, a project timeline and contact information for the project manager. Pages also include one more elements – such as an ideas board, Q&A, survey, forum, interactive map – that facilitate feedback. A built-in translation tool makes feedback easier for non-English speakers to submit input.
Most site features require registration, which helps the City identify which segments of the population are represented — or underrepresented — during the public input process. Registration also helps the City deliver project updates to engaged subscribers.
The site host, EngagementHQ, provides independent moderators to ensure civil discourse. Any comments deemed threatening, defamatory, intolerant or obscene are removed.
“Everyone willing to provide constructive input will be heard,” said Evans, who believes the site gives City staff the latitude to be more proactive about seeking public opinions; every City department has access to the platform.
“We hope our staff and our community stakeholders recognize this is a safe space to have a productive conversation about anything and everything Wilsonville.”