An Open City
Next month will mark the first year anniversary of Edmonton’s Insight Community, an online tool designed to promote engagement and feedback between the City and residents.
When you sign up for the Insight Community, you’ll begin receiving emails inviting you to participate in surveys on a variety of topics, such as urban agriculture, river valley access, or citizen satisfaction. A complete list of on-going and past surveys can be found here.
One thing that we have heard consistently during our the Council Initiative on Public Engagement is that the City needs to go to where people are, rather than consistently asking them to come to us. The Insight Community offers the opportunity to connect with people where they are, and bring questions to them in an informal format
The tool isn’t perfect - the online format means that we tend to see membership skew towards certain demographics, and it’s important that the City is thorough and balanced in how it presents surveys. But as the Insight Community grows, it will develop into an important tool for giving feedback on the direction that the City is heading.
The Insight Community has been picking up speed over the past year, breaking 2000 members recently, and that number only continues to grow. But the Insight Community is only a part of a larger initiative,which is called Open City.
The Open City initiative is guided by the desire to make our city as open and engaging as possible. The principles of Open City include Open Channels, Open Data, Open Information, and Open Engagement.
The Insight Community offers a little taste of all four of these principles, but some other very cool things have come out of this initiative as well. The 311 app is a prime example of an Open Channels supported project, as it allows citizens to report concerns on the go. The City’s Open Data catalogue is one of my favourites, as it provides current and historic information on everything from mosquito levels to traffic accidents in the City.
When we put all of these projects together, it's clear that the City has made some big steps towards openness and engagement with citizens. The Public Engagement Initiative will continue that work as we seek to engage those who have been left out of decision-making roles in the past.
One of the many neat things about the Insight Community is that we can break down the survey results by Ward, so I can look specifically at how residents of Ward 10 feel about a particular issue. I would encourage everyone to join the In sight Community and use it to provide your perspective and feedback on issues that emerge in the City.