Digital Sustainability Conversations: How Local Governments can Engage Residents Online
This guide to developing, implementing, and evaluating digital engagement strategies was created by the City's of Albany, N.Y. and Richmond, Va., funded by a USDN Urban Sustainability Innovation Fund grant. The Urban Sustainability Innovation Fund awards grants for innovation projects that address the most critical needs identified by members of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN).
As local governments face impacts from climate change, public health concerns, and public demand for increased accountability and transparency, it is becoming increasingly important to engage with the public on important sustainability topics.
With over 75% of Americans now online, and 82% of them interacting with government online, local governments have the opportunity to engage residents on Facebook, Twitter, and a myriad of other “digital engagement” tools. In fact, local governments that do not participate in digital engagement risk remaining unaware of online mobilization, until it manifests at public meetings and other face-to-face events.
This guidebook provides case studies and a step-by-step guide to support local government digital engagement efforts.
Case studies included in this guidebook are very diverse, covering: small and large initiatives; projects intended to inform and empower; and, digital engagement that has been implemented for the many functions of local government, like governance, service provision, and specific initiatives and policies.
The step-by-step guide takes both the digital novice and adept through a 16-step process. The process includes: goal-setting, defining audiences, selecting digital engagement tools, gaining internal commitment, creating digital teams, clarifying roles and responsibilities, listening online, combining digital engagement with face-to-face events, mitigating risk, evaluating and measuring impact, and incorporating organizational learning.