By Tanya Zwahlen
In October 2019, my neighborhood playground disappeared. The City posted a sign saying “new playground, coming soon…” I found myself wishing I had known who was working on it, what the proposed design was, and whether the City had engaged residents about what they wanted to see. I understood that it would have been expensive and time consuming to knock on my door and ask me what I thought. I wished there was a way I could opt-in and find out what was going on in the community around me.
That was a lightbulb moment.
I filled a whole journal with ideas.
Then pulled a team together, built a prototype, hired a developer, and settled into the development of a new public engagement tool.
We have been building and testing and iterating alllllll through the pandemic. And it’s time to share our progress.
Instant Input is an IOS/Android app and website where citizens can see what’s new in their community using a map tool or project listing. Search by topics like transportation, playgrounds or housing, follow projects, review documents, add project events like public meetings to your calendars and answer short surveys. The goal is that city, county, metropolitan planning organizations and state projects all reside on the same map, creating one space for stakeholders to engage with many projects happening in their community.
Why is it this needed?
Because government agencies and developers need to share information and solicit feedback from a wide array of stakeholders, but they don’t know who is interested in which project. Likewise, information about public and private projects is posted on many, many, MANY different pages. Citizens want to know what’s occurring in their community, but they don’t know where to look or how to provide feedback. Young adults, in particular, want to engage but don’t attend in-person or even virtual public meetings.
Communication and technology have changed drastically, and it’s time for a 21st century public engagement tool.
Instant Input is for governments who promote transparency and want to hear from more people.
We launched April 1st and we are excited to announce Keller Williams, USA Niagara, the City of Geneva and Labella Associates are the first organizations to put their pins on the map. We’re teaming with agencies and developers in Western New York and will expand beyond New York soon.
Check out our product website.
If you have any questions or feedback, send me a note!