“The positive outcomes of constructive collaboration are numerous, and far outweigh the potential challenges of coordinating such an effort. Not only are the chances better for program success, but residents’ investment will strengthen the future health of the community.” – The Sustainable Cities Institute
Fosters Better Outcomes
The Sustainable Cities Institute lists several benefits of an inclusive, broad-based public engagement strategy that provides meaningful opportunities for involvement. These include the ability to generate new ideas, develop customized solutions, and modify individual behavior to accept change.
Early and sustained public involvement can provide cost savings, time savings, and broader outreach to all stakeholders. Public engagement allows for better, more durable achievement of project goals and more effective use community assets.
Provides a Two-Way Flow of Information
Public engagement produces clear and more valuable input for decision-making. In addition to providing information to citizens, local governments can obtain valuable input from citizens. Access to information and electronic communications allow citizens to more effectively share their views and affect decisions. New technologies for citizen engagement, including social networking and other digital applications, are expanding opportunities to reach and gain feedback from new audiences.
Enhances Public Support and Satisfaction
Public engagement requires two-way communication with stakeholders. Effective communication involves building relationships through face-to-face interactions, sharing information to build trust, and creating spaces where people can interact successfully. Strong, innovative community engagement not only improves communications with the public, but also enhances changes of community approval. Citizens may become better informed, networked, and gain satisfaction with and confidence in planning initiatives. Citizens who become supportive through public involvement are likely to spread positive views to family and friends and help minimize community resistance to change. The process should build consensus, community support, and proactively address conflict.
Community engagement can be time consuming, create potential conflict, lead to directional shifts, and promise high expectations. The Sustainable Cities Institute suggests that these challenges may be overcome through the development of a comprehensive public engagement plan.