As 2017 draws to a close, we reflect on some of the challenges and opportunities that have emerged over the past year. PlaceSpeak continues to innovate and iterate, responding to some of the most pressing challenges facing online democracy and public participation.
With the FCC’s net neutrality ruling – and its online consultation with hundreds of thousands of fake comments – at the forefront of policy-makers and Internet users’ minds alike, it is clear that technologies which seek to undermine citizen engagement are here to stay. PlaceSpeak’s geo-verification technology was featured in Government Technology and Forbes Magazine, as well as in Government Technology’s Year in Review, for its focus on digital ID authentication, which has proven to be an effective deterrent against bots, trolls, spammers and other troubling ways of discrediting the public input process.
In addition, PlaceSpeak is honoured to have been recognized by several awards. The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) was awarded the Union of BC Municipalities’ Community Excellence Award (Best Practices in Organizational Development & Improvements) for using PlaceSpeak in a regional approach to citizen engagement, breaking down silos between the regional and local levels of government. We also received the Public Health Association of BC (PHABC) Healthy Corporate Citizen Award for a successful consultation on the future of public health in the province.
We also continue to respond to feedback from organizations and participations alike. Our Development team redesigned the consultation page to highlight two important factors which influence the public’s decision to get involved in citizen engagement processes: the ability to make a clear impact on the final decision and accountability. We also partnered with SurveyGizmo and SimpleSurvey, making it easier for organizations using those survey tools to integrate directly into a full PlaceSpeak consultation. We are currently in the process of redeveloping our interface for organizations hosting and managing consultations, and will be rolling it out in the new year.
Of course, we couldn’t have done it without you! We’re heartened by all the incredible governments and organizations on PlaceSpeak who demonstrate the value of including local voices in the decision-making process. We stay inspired by our civically engaged users who are actively contributing to their communities and shaping better places to live, work and play. Here’s to 2018, and we hope you’ll stay around for the ride!