New tools for civic engagement at a glance

When we prepared the discussion panel about new tools for civic engagement for the San Francisco Urban Film Fest, we thought about how the public process could be improved by the use of video, media, and other tools.

Participants may feel more engaged and respected if they can contribute their individual experiences and ideas early in the process instead of just going to a community meeting, in which they are asked to provide comments after being presented with some analysis and plan alternatives. Cell phones and other devices nowadays make it easy to document issues, tell stories, or show places that can serve as positive examples. These contributions could greatly help with the development and illustration of ideas and plans, and provide information that might otherwise fall through the cracks. Another benefit of using a variety of tools is the inclusion of a more representative spectrum of stakeholders and residents since most community meetings only tend to reach a limited number of people who have the time and interest to come to these meetings.

A picture often says more than a thousand words, so here are some ideas:

A typical planning process with public engagement

Potential new tools for a more meaningful public process