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Mission and Purpose
Governments tend to use ineffective and obsolete citizen engagement methods that no longer stand up to scrutiny. At the same time, advancement in information and communications technology has made it possible to engage in legitimate, scalable democratic practices. PlaceSpeak’s vision is to improve the quality and legitimacy of decision-making and public policy development by modernizing authentication of digital identity, protecting privacy by design and ‘making it real’ and actionable with regards to public input. This requires a robust, secure, scalable and privacy enhancing digital identification and authentication ecosystem.
Their approach combines digital identity authentication with privacy by design principles to strengthen legitimacy in online public processes.
Origins and Development
Online citizen engagement is largely anonymous and not tied to place. This has led to the proliferation of trolls, sock puppets, astroturfing and other forms of online dysfunctions designed to skew and distort public opinion. Institutions that seem to have left “the people” out of the governing equation have deeply undermined the public trust.
PlaceSpeak was developed as a way to consult online and prove that it happened. Their location-based smart cities civic engagement platform aims to advance digital democracy by “making it real”.
Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding
PlaceSpeak’s mission is to empower people everywhere to provide their verifiable feedback on public consultations by combining the values of a non-profit with the flexibility and innovation of a tech startup. They describe themselves as a new kind of company: a "social enterprise," using the power of business for social good. Like most companies, PlaceSpeak has a business model that allows us to grow rapidly and be financially self-sustaining, providing thousands of people with a free public consultation platform. But unlike many companies, their business is social good.
Specializations, Methods and Tools
By connecting digital identity to residential address, PlaceSpeak provides geo-located feedback to public, private and nonprofit sector organizations, and closes the feedback loop between public consultation, evidence-based decision-making and accountability; engendering trust.
At the same time, PlaceSpeak enables a citizen-centred approach, leveraging the network effect. Using open data, PlaceSpeak delivers address-based notifications to keep residents informed, while providing opportunities to be consulted and involved,as well as encouraging collaboration, all of which ultimately empower citizens.
PlaceSpeak is revolutionizing the online public consultation business. Public consultation is required broadly as part of the democratic process. Governments at all levels directly or indirectly require consultation on a range of issues, most of which are geographically defined. PlaceSpeak taps into that need to consult and adds value by generating verifiable data to support public policy development and local decision-making. PlaceSpeak takes the guesswork out of online consultation.
Major Projects and Events
Surrey School District - A Vision for the Future (2014-15) to gather information from parents, staff and the broader community on the programs and opportunities that the Surrey School Board should children in the future?
Calgary Future Skatepark Amenities (2014) to involve residents in the selection process for future skatepark facilities within the City of Calgary
Metro Vancouver Urban Futures Survey (2012) to determine long term trends in the relative importance of a number of community and regional issues.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
“About Us,” PlaceSpeak, https://www.placespeak.com/about/.
Lead image: PlaceSpeak, https://goo.gl/QN5yZL