08 Oct

Increasing Voter Turnout Using Civic Tech

The Canadian federal election’s been on our mind lately. From innovative election polling to real-time voter intention, we’ve been exploring some of PlaceSpeak’s potential for electoral politics. A recent Knight Foundation challenge asked, “How might we better inform voters and increase civic participation before, during and after elections?”

Elections Canada identified two types of barriers to voting: motivation barriers (attitudes, interest and political knowledge) and access barriers (knowledge of the electoral process, personal circumstances and administrative issues). With the Fair Elections Act, which prohibits Elections Canada from promoting voting in federal elections, there’s a lot of potential for civic tech to play a role in independent, non-partisan voter outreach.

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06 Oct

5 Takeaways from the 2015 Code for America Summit

Code for America held their 4th annual summit last week, for the first (but not the last) time in Oakland. I went down with with PlaceSpeak CEO Colleen Hardwick.


Digesting the lessons of the conference will take some time, but here are a few things that jumped out at me.

1. I still love Code for America.

Claiming that your start-up is going to “make the world a better place” has become a punchline. Literally. It takes a lot to dislodge skepticism encrusted over years of Web 2.0 hype. The Code for America summit can do that, at least for me. The people there are so obviously and deeply committed to principles of equity and dignity that you can’t help but believe them, and their principles. And despite (because of?) the fact that CfA folk are motivated more by people than by technology, the tech design is very, very good. It’s just a nice feeling being around all that.

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01 Oct

5 Social Media Strategies for Non-Profit Community Engagement

Non-profits, community organizations and neighbourhood associations often don’t have a big budget for advertising and outreach. Now that you’ve decided to use PlaceSpeak for launching a public consultation, how do you ensure that your target demographic is reached and becomes engaged?

Here are some realistic and simple social media strategies that can help maximize your reach.

(1) Provide authentic content. 

We live in an information-saturated world. When people are overwhelmed by content from all sides, why should they care about your issue/campaign? In short, what’s in it for them? 

The key is to be authentic and transparent about the consultation process.

  • Where/to whom is their feedback going?
  • Will their feedback actually have an impact on the project, and how?

Keep them in the loop, even after they’ve given their feedback. You don’t need a big budget for that. County commissioner Mike Yoder from Elkhart County, Indiana films regular videos updating his constituents about latest developments in their community.

From creating original content (blog posts, photos, videos, podcasts, memes…) to curating existing content, keep your updates fresh and relevant. In smaller organizations which aren’t necessarily equipped to be creating original content, sharing existing content is a great way to build positive relationships with other groups doing similar work.

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30 Sep

How PlaceSpeak is Helping “Greening Governments in Alberta”

Greening Government

Federal, provincial and municipal government staff in Alberta are benefiting from a series of lunch and learns focusing on “Greening Governments”.

The aim is to help governments in Alberta reduce their carbon footprint and support a sustainable approach to operation and public service provision within the province.

11 speakers will present at individual events over a three-month period including our CEO, Colleen Hardwick.

Colleen’s presentation entitled ‘Digital GeoSocial Carbon Free Citizen Engagement’ will look at PlaceSpeak as a tool for reducing carbon emissions. While we often talk about PlaceSpeak’s ability to deliver truly legitimate online public consultation and the network effect to increase participation, the ‘green’ aspect of online consultation does not get as much focus.

The Lunch and Learn GGs Video Conferencing Speaker Series aims to provide a range of subject matter experts and dynamic content providers to stimulate interest, discussions and potential actions by staff and managers in their efforts to help governments in Alberta reduce their carbon footprint and support a sustainable approach to operation and public service provision within Alberta.

How: A range of viewing and participation approaches will be used to host Online-Webinar and Boardroom Locations. Including, videoconferencing and web conferencing approaches using Alberta Supernet and web-based connections to connect boardroom locations throughout Alberta, for live and interactive sessions with experts in Greening Government.

Note: If you’re interested in watching the sessions, but not participating, online streaming options will be explored.

When: Lunch and Learn Sessions will be hosted each Wed over the lunch hour from October 7, 2015 to December 16, 2015 from approximately Noon-1:00pm.

Let us know if you are interested in attending in person or online through the comments below and we will send through details.