3 Paradigm Shifts in Online Citizen Engagement for 2019

In 2018, the concept of “bots” and “trolls” became seared into public consciousness. Beyond miscreants harassing others online, the public became starkly aware that well-funded and coordinated efforts on social media had the power to shape political outcomes, fundamentally changing the nature of online civic and political participation. It was also a turning point for concerns around data privacy, both for the public and for governments.

The upcoming year will see innovations which seek to empower communities and enable meaningful, respectful online dialogues, all while putting individual privacy at the heart of the process. These innovations will push back against advertising-based, algorithmic models which have empowered bots and trolls and emboldened those who seek to manipulate political outcomes.

PlaceSpeak 2018 in Review

As 2018 draws to a close, we reflect on some of the challenges and opportunities that have emerged over the past year. While online methods are no longer optional for decision-makers wanting to engage with the public, privacy and security have become top of mind. PlaceSpeak continues to offer solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing online democratic participation and citizen engagement today.

Customer Success: Engaging Diverse Stakeholders on Short-Term Rentals

In our recent white paper, we discussed the challenges that cities face when regulating home-sharing and short-term rentals (STRs). Faced with competing interests and perspectives, regulations need to balance the priorities and concerns of homeowners, renters, industry or business groups, and more.

The City of Yellowknife recently embarked on a multi-phase community and stakeholder engagement process to create a framework for regulating STRs. In Yellowknife, STRs are currently only allowed in hotels and bed & breakfasts (B&Bs). Despite these rules, there has been a rapid growth of nightly rentals in Yellowknife on platforms such as AirBnb in recent years. City staff set out to draft a framework which maximizes the benefits of STRs while managing impacts on neighbourhoods and providers of licensed accommodation.

4 Haunting Online Public and Stakeholder Engagement Mistakes

Public and private sector organizations rely on feedback from the public and key stakeholders to make more effective decisions and reduce risk. As people increasingly conduct more of their lives online – from ride-sharing to online banking, even finding people to date – online engagement can no longer be considered optional. However, as anyone who’s spent any time online will attest, the Internet can be a wild west. This Halloween, don’t let these mistakes haunt your online public and stakeholder consultation processes.

Effective Online Consultation on Home-Sharing & Short-term Rentals

The rise of AirBnb, HomeAway, VRBO and other similar platforms has brought the pros and cons of home-sharing and short-term rentals (STRs) to the forefront. With revenue from vacation rentals in the United States amounting to $13 billion in 2018, this is not an issue that cities can afford to ignore.

With so many diverse and competing stakeholder interests, the regulation of STRs can be a challenging and controversial issue for local governments. For example, it has been over three years since residents on both sides of the issue in San Diego first petitioned the City on STRs, yet no regulations have been passed. Though several proposals were put to Council in December 2017, local representatives were unable to come to a consensus and pass any of the proposed regulations.