In a time when cities, governments, non-profits, and even private businesses are looking to connect with their communities, we need to ensure that our methods for engagement are intentional and authentic. With technology becoming a part of our everyday lives, it is easy to send out a quickly drafted survey, write a report on the handful of answers you have received, and call it community engagement. While that approach may get some feedback from community members, it does not truly engage them in a meaningful way and likely will not see them showing up in the future to contribute.
Instead, we want to look for ways to build relationships and trust with community members for long term-connections that ensure the whole community benefits from an initiative’s outcome. Below is an example of an engagement framework outlining different focus areas throughout the engagement process. Today, we will be focusing on the first section by exploring options to coordinate activities, manage content, and optimize connections. This is where Esri’s suite of web and mobile applications shine – as they can enhance how we engage with community members and provide a platform for you to keep them informed as things unfold.
Community members are your most vital asset when it comes to community engagement, as they are both knowledge experts and the perfect data collectors. If your project is in need of data to get feedback, gain insight into community concerns, or help with decision making, then look no further! Esri offers two applications to meet the needs of any data collection plan.
ArcGIS Survey123 is a form-centric application for creating, sharing, and analyzing surveys! It allows you to create surveys with advanced logic and support for multiple languages, collect data via the web or mobile devices, analyze results quickly, and perform further analysis with other ArcGIS applications. Survey123 provides a reliable alternative to paper-based data collection with a trustworthy digital solution that can be tailored to fit the needs of any organization’s unique environments.
There are two options for building your survey:
- The Survery123 web application – a drag and drop visual survey builder.
- The Survery123 Connect desktop application – an Excel based builder that allows you more control over custom configurations.
Once your survey has been published, you can utilize the built-in web dashboard to access results, see snapshot analysis of responses, create data reports, and use the data in other applications throughout the ArcGIS ecosystem. Below is a short video that outlines the streamlined process from design to data collection to analysis and reporting that Survey123 provides users.
ArcGIS QuickCapture makes collecting field observations a breeze from wherever you are! The application was developed for people who are on the move and need to quickly capture data, images, and notes. Whether you are conducting citizen science with a BioBlitz, collecting road inspections and pothole reports, or tracking engagement at an event, QuickCapture is the tool for you. The application is easy to set up from your desktop with projects ready for data collection in minutes. Real-time data feeds are immediately accessible to ensure you don’t miss a thing. Below is a short video showing the ins and outs of how the application makes data collection quick and easy.
Data Analysis & Sharing Your Findings
Effective community engagement continues beyond the data collection phase, as members of your community will be curious about what you discover during the analysis portion of your plan. This is where sharing the outcomes from your analysis work in an accessible way becomes critical. Luckily, growing collective knowledge and understanding using your findings is another area that Esri has applications to help get your message across.
ArcGIS Dashboards provide information at a glance on a single screen with location-based analytics and interactive data visualizations that are intuitive for users. Every organization can utilize dashboards for a variety of use cases, with or without location data, as the application works with your data to show visual trends, monitor status in real-time, and keep stakeholders (like your community members) informed on an initiative’s progress. You can create dashboards tailored to your audience while giving them the capability to explore data and get the answers they need. Below is a dashboard created by the Audubon Society Northern Virginia to track all properties participating in the Wildlife Sanctuary Program.
Stories are powerful; they can advocate for change, influence opinion, and create awareness. ArcGIS StoryMaps are web-based applications that allow you to tell your story by integrating maps, data, pictures, videos, and other applications (like surveys and dashboards) in one place. Due to their versatility and ability to augment storytelling through the addition of digital content, they are a product that can be used with any topic to communicate your message.
When approaching a StoryMap, it is important to know what story you are trying to tell, the audience for your story, and the overall purpose of the StoryMap. Are you looking to inspire others? Are you looking to inform people about a topic or issue? Are you looking to engage viewers with a call to action? By defining the story, audience, and purpose at the start, you will have a better overall flow with your StoryMap.
Above is a StoryMap created by the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond that delves into present-day environmental inequalities caused by redlining practices in the 1930s. This example shows the power that StoryMaps to help communicate your message by enhancing how the story is told through the inclusion of maps and media.
Building a Home for Your Initiative
ArcGIS Hub is a cloud-based engagement platform that rallies communities around issues and initiatives, applying data to decision-making to create a more efficient, livable, and sustainable community. With the help of ArcGIS Hub, an organization can extend their existing infrastructure, leverage data, increase communication and collaboration with stakeholders, and track progress to improve outcomes. From open data sites to community initiatives, ArcGIS Hub allows organizations and community members to work closely on what matters to them.
ArcGIS Hub gives you access to an open data site with data galleries, basic data viewing, filtering, data downloads, and access to APIs. You can create various sites and pages to allow for easier data discovery or targeted community engagement. It integrates directly with your ArcGIS Online organization so you can share your apps, maps, and data without needing to recreate anything. Managing your hub and its content is straightforward with the inclusion of teams, which allows for collaborative management by creating a team from your ArcGIS Online organization’s users. Public access to your hub is anonymous, meaning the public can access your hub without the need to sign in or assign ArcGIS Online user accounts.
ArcGIS Hub Basic
The basic edition of ArcGIS Hub is included with your existing ArcGIS Online subscription. If you already have ArcGIS Online, you can start using ArcGIS Hub today! Below is an example of the ArcGIS Hub site created by the Feds Feed Families campaign showcasing all the great functionality you can take advantage of using ArcGIS Hub basic.
ArcGIS Hub Premium
Looking for something more robust that allows users to contribute data, maps, and applications to a project? Need an event and communication management system? The premium edition of ArcGIS Hub has all of this and more. It offers a wealth of additional functionality to facilitate your initiative’s day-to-day activity management. For an additional annual cost, ArcGIS Hub premium provides you with an events management system, allowing users to follow an initiative for updates, stakeholder communications and management in one place, ArcGIS QuickCapture licensing, and a community organization of 100 users to facilitate collaboration. Below is an example of the site created for the Aloha+ Challenge that shows how much you can do with ArcGIS Hub premium to build a home for your initiative.
Now it is your turn to try out these applications to see what works best for you and your organization’s community engagement strategy! Want assistance on planning, deployment, or training? Reach out to our team via e-mail; we’ll be delighted to talk with you!