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How Cities Can Use Technology to Enhance Citizen Engagement

by SUMMIT on August 4th, 2015

How Cities Can Use Technology to Enhance Citizen Engagement

Government agencies are embracing various technology strategies, particularly digital signage, to improve collaboration and communication in transportation, utilities, and health care.

AV systems are often used for displaying information in real-time in command and control centers, public services collaboration rooms, and law enforcement. However, engaging citizens is one area where agencies have not fully realized the effectiveness and power of digital media. The National Citizen Survey 2015 by the National Research Center found citizen engagement to be abysmally low across the nation. How can local governments close the gap? How can they better engage with their residents?

AV technologies can help cities become more citizen-friendly. Here are a few cities who are excelling at digital interaction with their citizens, encouraging them to get involved in community events, meetings, and debates.

More Engaging Content

The city of Westland, Michigan offers roadside digital signage, multiple 50-inch displays, and its city hall is fully-equipped with networked AV solutions in an effort to bring interactive and engaging content to its residents. Using AV technologies, government agencies can develop more interactive content and more effectively disseminate news and information, as well as other relevant area updates.

Better Meetings and Events

Public meetings and community events are often long affairs that rarely hold people’s interest. With high-quality acoustics, large displays, professional level lighting, and HD cameras, government agencies can deliver more robust and interactive public presentations. One of the biggest reasons people mention for not attending meetings and events is that they don’t have the time. Videoconferencing eliminates this problem by enabling people to attend meetings from anywhere and allows them to view these meetings on various devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Livestreaming and webcasting can also significantly broaden the reach of community events.

Greater Participation in Public Presentations

Digital media improves the communication between government agencies and its citizens by streaming vital information through the Internet. Residents can participate in public meetings and proceedings by streaming their presentations from their smartphones or tablets through an app. Meetings are digitally recorded and played to local channels or uploaded online quickly. AV technologies also help when a venue is overcrowded. Digital displays allow people to see and participate in another room or in the lobby, for example.

Build a Greener City

Compared to traditional meetings and events, videoconferences and livestreamed events involve much less paperwork, documents, and trash. They also keep more people at home, rather than driving cars downtown to attend, thus reducing a city’s carbon footprint. Audio-visual initiatives also highlight various opportunities for cities to become more eco-friendly. A case in point is Toronto’s digital signage project, which encourages its residents to choose more sustainable transportation options instead of single-occupancy vehicles. Through this project, citizens, newcomers, visitors, and tourists are informed about the many transportation options available in the city, including busses, streetcars and the underground subway system.

Improved Experience for Travelers

John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, San Antonio International Airport, and the Long Beach Airport are some of the country’s busiest airports. They have also all employed airport virtual assistants (AVA)—virtual holographic human figures that serve as customer service reps. AVAs are bilingual, 3D projection images that disseminate real-time information to passengers. People can even stop and in real time interact with the holograms, when needing answers to specific questions, for example.

People are used to seeing technological innovations in every aspect of their lives and government is no exception. Digital media can help public agencies better engage with the citizens they serve. Various AV technologies, such as videoconferencing, livestreaming, and digital signage provide robust and interactive methods for people to participate, collaborate, and get information in real-time. When residents are more actively involved in what’s happening in their city, everyone wins.

Photo Credit: FutureEverything via Compfight cc

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