Best Practices for Streamlining Public Involvement Management and Centralizing Data

Centralize Public Engagement Data

Cities, counties, and DOTs all juggle countless projects at a time– projects that impact every socioeconomic or demographic within their communities.

At face value, juggling projects can seem like a blocker: too much work and never enough resources. But there are ways to turn this blocker into an advantage. When properly organized and managed though, ongoing and concurring projects can be a benefit to your organization, creating a trove of information critical to understanding the community and building rapport within it.

Traditionally, state and local governments have applied manual approaches to data management, but recently, leading these agencies have begun pressing for a more sophisticated approach. Consulting firms like Gartner now report data sharing as a top technology trend for government.  As the federal government continues to promote documented and measurable performance in equitable engagement, it’s more important than ever that state and local governments start to consider a data-centric approach.

Using a data-centric approach can help state and local governments to…

    • Make informed, representative, and defensible decisions
    • Promote efficient workflows for staff and residents alike
    • Increase trust and public confidence
    • Benchmark and measure engagement equity over time

Streamlining Public Engagement: A User-Friendly, Efficient Experience for Admins and Residents Alike 

Meaningful public involvement, as highlighted by the USDOT, requires a combination of in-person and digital tools, language inclusivity, and intentional outreach. Despite the complexity, forward-thinking government agencies are focusing on a streamlined process and a centralized system of record. To achieve this, state and local governments need to:

  1. Coalesce around a single tool for staff to master all aspects of public engagement.
  2. Notify and engage residents consistently throughout a project’s lifecycle.
  3. Centralize all participation data into a single source of record.
  4. Routinely document community reach, identifying potential gaps.

Once implemented, a consistent engagement experience allows residents to:

  • Search for relevant projects.
  • Receive notifications based on interests or location.
  • Expect predictable, accessible opportunities to engage.
  • Trust that their voices are heard.

On the administrative side, an integrated system of record allows staff to:

  • Manage and store unlimited meetings and project participation data.
  • Integrate various formats for public engagement.
  • Generate presentation-ready engagement reports in real-time.
  • Ensure representative engagement and derive equity insights specific to the community.

How Centralizing Data Informs Strategy and Benchmarks Equity Performance

Public Involvement Plans, like this one from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, dictate that trends in all elements of stakeholder engagement need to be analyzed to improve decision-making. The USDOT goes even further, saying that we must approach public involvement as an intentional, dynamic process that continues throughout all stages of product development, as opposed to a one-time event or a box to check in a project’s lifecycle.

Community engagement best practices capitalize on aggregated data over time, akin to strategies employed by companies like Google and Facebook. Local governments become more effective when they can strategize and benchmark using information captured across projects, years, topics, and methodologies. This centralized approach supports transparency and accountability in recording, measuring, and reporting on public involvement activities and programs.

Even when participation data originates from peer organizations like Council of Governments (COG), or a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), it’s a valuable resource that should be captured and stored for future reference. The use of “planning and environmental linkages” relies on a central system of record, aligning efforts, preventing duplicative work, and saving time and money.

To achieve this, organizations must integrate more than public comments, incorporating survey and meeting data collected throughout programming, planning, and development. Participants need continuous engagement, with feedback transparently and timely reported.

A Central System of Record for Governments

PublicInput’s Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) database serves as a fully integrated system of record, automating many engagement process steps. Community engagement best practice involves using CRM to track participation over time. Government agencies across North America trust PI’s CRM to record activities and create an archive of every public interaction. Learn from City of Rancho Cucamonga, CA, and Clark County, NV, about their successful implementation of comprehensive public affairs strategies using the PublicInput platform and CRM.

Curious about adopting an organization-wide approach to centralizing public data? Don’t miss the opportunity for mission-critical, equitable, and representative decision-making. Learn more about how your community can benefit from this approach.

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So you’ve gone above and beyond to promote your public meetings, you’ve targeted neighborhoods on Facebook, and you’ve leveraged our meeting tools to foster productive dialog.

But are you sure you’ve reached the residents who need your project the most?

Engage using standard survey question formats that you’re used to with consumer survey tools. From the single and multi-select, to Likert, slider, and text input formats, you’ve got the basics covered.

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