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Online Comments Give Residents a Voice During Public Meetings

Municipalities are adapting their tech, following trends of increased participation in public meetings across the U.S. According to StateScoop, two cities are meeting newfound interest in the civic process through features like online commenting, so residents can participate from anywhere.

Previously, San Antonio and Phoenix required residents to participate in council meetings in person or email input prior to a meeting. Seeking a way to manage the rise in public participation, both cities have turned to Granicus for help.

“We wanted to make sure we have tools in place so people can participate from the comfort and safety of their homes.” — Laura Mayes, Assistant Director of Government & Public Affairs

San Antonio introduced eComment, which enables residents to comment and view other comments on agenda items online. Since adding this feature, the City notes that 300 people commented on a single budget item in a recent meeting, far more than what they would have seen before COVID-19. Phoenix updated their livestreaming capabilities so residents can request to speak, comment, or share support for items as a meeting occurs.

How Do Online Comments Work?

eComment is an online tool, part of Granicus’ govMeetings agenda management solution, that makes participation easy and convenient for residents and city staff. Residents can review agenda item details and indicate their position on an item — from any device. They simply create an account and log into the system whenever they wish. From there, residents can leave comments on agenda items, read other comments, and request to speak during a meeting.

The comments can be attached to public record, and the system eliminates the need for clerks to manually compile notes from comments sent over the phone or email.

Bringing it All Together

Constituents are proving more interested in city council meetings and government’s decision-making process. Incorporating tools like online commenting enables residents to get involved, share their concerns, and feel like they’re heard.

Want to Incorporate Online Public Participation Tools?

See govMeetings and eComment in action>>