The impact in the first year has also been immediately felt in resident engagement with public meetings. Where Dean said that previously, residents would comment that they didn’t know about new policy discussions until public meetings, creating govDelivery topics about important city issues is inspiring more informed engagement from residents during those discussions.
“Adding in that govDelivery accessibility for topics about council or planning commission meetings, development or historic preservation issues, it helps keep the community more connected,” she said. “We certainly don’t have anything to hide, so it allows us to be more transparent with our community members, and hopefully getting fewer comments that it was the first time they heard of something. Now it’s ‘Oh yeah, I got that in my email.’ So that’s been really encouraging.”
From that transparency, Dean says a strong community of engagement even between residents is growing in, of all places, the social media channels that department heads had previously feared.
“I’m actually finding that I don’t need to filter social media comments as much now,” she said. “If someone asks a question, there’s another resident going on there responding , ‘The email said the meeting’s at 6 PM,’ or ‘You need to go sign up for the newsletter, and you’ll get the emails, too.’ They’re definitely taking ownership and pride in it, and they like having that tool. They like sharing that resource with their friends and family too. it saves me a ton of time and intervention so we can avoid the sense of the government stepping in and breaking up a natural conversation.”
That civic pride can also be seen in the number of Winder residents who have connected with the town government by subscribing to newsletters since the new program went into effect. In one year, Winder’s subscriptions grew five-fold, not only showing the value that the topic-based content brings for residents, but a strengthening of the relationship between resident and government.