In today’s digital age, more agencies are turning to online public comment systems to collect feedback from citizens on projects. There are many benefits to using this system, including increased transparency, accountability, and efficiency. This article will discuss the tips and benefits of using a digital public commenting system and highlight some of the best ways to manage the process.
The following are some tips to follow when getting started with digital public comments:
1. Establish a process for accepting and managing digital public comments
Digital public comments can come from various sources, so it is essential to have a process to accept and manage these comments. This process should include guidelines for submitting comments and management practices for storing, organizing, and sharing these comments. This process should also give the person managing the digital public comments access to any publicly available information about the project or proposal under consideration, such as meeting agendas or draft environmental impact reports.
2. Ensure that your website is accessible for people with disabilities
To ensure that your agency’s website is accessible to everyone, especially people with disabilities, you can consult the U.S. Access Board’s website on accessibility standards for electronic and information technology.
3. Include social media links in your agency’s website project pages
Provide links to your agency’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms on project pages on your website. It will allow people to easily find and share your projects with their friends and followers.
4. Use digital public commenting systems that are easy to use
There are many digital public commenting systems available, so it is crucial to select the one that best suits your needs. The system should be intuitive and easy to navigate and should allow people to submit comments quickly and easily.
5. Promote your agency’s digital public commenting system
Make sure to promote your agency’s digital public commenting system through all of your communication channels, including the website, social media, email newsletters, and other marketing materials. It will help ensure that people know how to participate in the public comment process.
6. Respond to comments on time
It is essential to respond to comments promptly, mainly submitted through a digital public commenting system. It will help ensure that people feel heard and that their comments are being considered.
7. Follow up on comments to ensure that they are addressed appropriately
It is essential to follow up on digital public comments (and other comments) to ensure that they are addressed appropriately. It could include providing updated information, changing project designs or materials, or taking other action if necessary.
8. Include digital public comments in the official record of your agency’s decision-making process
When making decisions, it is vital to consider all of the available information to you, including digital public comments. It will help ensure that your agency makes informed decisions based on all of the available information.
Benefits of digital public comments
Now that we know how to get started with digitalized public comment, let us understand the benefits and pros of using this system.
Some of the benefits of using digital public comments include:
1. Increased transparency and accountability: By making it easier for people to submit comments, agencies are held more accountable to the public. It allows people to feel more involved in the decision-making process, building trust between citizens and the government.
2. It is easier to track online behavior: Collecting digital public comments in a database system makes it easier for agencies to track user behavior online. You can use the information to improve customer service and outreach efforts.
3. Cost-effective: Digital public comments are typically free to submit online, which is much more cost-effective than the alternative of submitting physical forms in person. It can help agencies stretch their budget further by spending more money on other essential aspects of the project.
4. Allowing for more creative expressions: It is easier to be creative and share their ideas when people feel like they have a voice. Digital public comments allow more people to share their thoughts and ideas, which can help agencies understand what the public wants.
5. Increased participation: By making it easy for people to participate in the public comment process, agencies can receive more comments from citizens. It can help agencies get more feedback on the project and help them make more informed decisions.
6. Simpler to respond: When comments are submitted through a digital public commenting system, it is easier for agencies to keep track of comments and responses. It can simplify the process of responding to citizen comments online.
7. More immediate results: By submitting comments online, people can see the comments instantly. It can help increase transparency and accountability as people can see the public’s reaction to the project in near real-time.
8. Increased efficiency: Digital public commenting systems allow agencies to manage and track comments more efficiently. It can help agencies save time and resources while still collecting valuable feedback from citizens.
9. Easier to share: Digital public comments can be easily shared across social media, which is excellent for promoting participation and outreach efforts. It will help agencies reach more people and increase awareness of the project. A public engagement can help agencies improve project outcomes.
Choosing the right software
When looking for a software to manage digital public comments, there are a few things that you should keep in mind:
1. The software should capture all of the comments in one place. It will help make it easier for agencies to track and respond to comments.
2. The software should be straightforward for anyone to use. It will facilitate greater use of the software by your agency.
3. The software should handle different input types, including text, photos, and email messages.
4. It should have pre-populated templates with information so that agencies can quickly respond to comments online without too much hassle or time commitment.
5. The software should be affordable and have a low cost of ownership. It will help agencies save money on the overall project budget.
Choosing the right digital public comment system can be a daunting task, but it is crucial to find one that meets your agency’s needs. By understanding the benefits and pros of using this system, you can better decide if it is the right choice for your agency.
Best ways to manage digital public comment period
When it comes to public comment periods, agencies have a few different ways of managing the process. In this section, we will go over the best practices for managing digital public comments:
1. Establish a clear timeline: One of the best ways to ensure that everyone is on the same page is by establishing a clear timeline for the public comment period. It will help keep everyone informed of when they can submit comments and when the agency responds to comments.
2. Use an online system: Using an online public comment system is the best way to manage comments. It will make it easier for agencies to track and respond to comments.
3. Promote the comment period: Promoting the public comment period is key to maximizing participation. You can do it by promoting the project on social media, email listservs, and your agency website.
4. Increase outreach efforts: Outreach efforts are vital for ensuring that as many people as possible submit their comments. You should reach out to different communities and stakeholders to ensure that they can participate in the comment period.
5. Respond to comments: Agencies can respond to comments. It will show that you take the time and effort to listen to the public’s feedback.
By following these best practices, agencies can ensure that they successfully manage their project’s public comment period.
Public participation is a crucial part of project management. You can use digital and paper-based public comment systems to collect feedback from the public, but digital public comment systems may be the way of the future.
Digital public comments have several advantages over traditional methods, including ease of use, the ability to track and display real-time feedback, and the ability to share with others. As more agencies understand the benefits of a digital public engagement, there is a chance that this will become the standard method for project feedback.