Increasing Community Engagement with Technology: Why and How It’s Done
There is a wave of individualism sweeping across the world. Most people go on with their activities with little or no interaction with the people around them. Where interaction and exchange of ideas are required, it becomes hard for the relevant authorities to get the community members to interact and engage with each other and issues at hand.
Why is engagement important?
Gives the Public a Voice on issues that matter
Sometimes some issues require the public to voice their opinion for decisions to be made. This could be something as little as creating an amenity park in the community or a new way of engaging the public in fighting a prevalent crime. Engagement also allows authorities to read the mood of the people.
Enables community members to report matters to the authorities
It is sometimes hard to get members of a community to talk about specific problems that they may be having from petty crime to gang violence and serious matters of safety like terrorist actions. Authorities need to engage the public and get them to share information freely and consistently.
Dissemination of information
Sometimes, there is information that is of great importance to the public.It could be information about impending floods, earthquakes or any other type of epidemic. There are of course the traditional ways to broadcast the information. However, engaging with the communities increases the chances of the members actually acting on the information.
How is it done?
- Use of Mobile Apps
Mobile technology is one of the key technologies that are connecting communities around the world. The good thing with mobile technologies is that all the interest members individually and get them talking to each other.
Mobile apps are the most common ways of communicating to community members only, second from the use of the messaging service. The use of apps enables recipients to communicate and also interact with each other. The apps can be configured to communicate to a particular group of people or just the entire population.
- Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool for community engagement. It enables the interest groups not only to spread information, respond promptly, and also to track the impact and behaviors of the community members. Facebook leads among the most commonly used social media sites to connect to the general population. It even has a feature that helps friends and relatives check out their loved ones in case of an accident, an epidemic or a natural disaster.
- Digital libraries
Digital libraries are key to providing access to information to members of the community and other interest groups. Most digital libraries serve particular professional groups such as doctors or lawyers. However, there are many that dispense information to the general population in specific areas such as sanitation or infectious diseases to business consultancy services. Members of the public can connect, learn and implement the information.
Technology has been crucial in enhancing the flow of information around the community and getting community members to speak out or give vital information to relevant authorities.