Govlaunch Podcast

Citizen Engagement Part 1 of 6: Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council, UK using EngagementHQ for creative and meaningful engagement during the pandemic and beyond

Episode Summary

In Part 1 of the series, I have the pleasure of chatting with Anna Miller and Beverly Wilson from Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council. We'll dive into their approach to citizen engagement with Jonathan Bradley, who joins us from Bang the Table. Together, we'll learn about what made the council pick Bang the Table's Engagement HQ to deliver more flexible citizen friendly tools for engagement and what you should know as well in your search for a vendor.

Episode Notes

In this short series, we’re talking all about Citizen Engagement. I’ll be highlighting some of the innovators in local government leveraging available tools to better engage with the communities they serve. 

Our goal is to expose more local governments to the tools available to help by efficiently providing useful information about some of the leading products out there. We’d love it if you could spend less time finding and researching products and hopefully get to launching your digital efforts to engage with your residents more quickly. Stay tuned for more episodes on leading citizen engagement tools and the innovators in local government putting their products to use.  Read the Guide.

More info: 

Featured government: Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council, UK
Government Guests:  
Beverly Wilson, Insight and Intelligence Manager
Anna Miller,  Research Team Manager

Featured Maker: Bang the Table
Maker Guest: Jonathan Bradley

Visit for more stories and examples of local government innovation.

Episode Transcription

Lindsay: (00:05)

Welcome to the Govlaunch podcast. Govlaunch is the Wiki for local government innovation. And on this short series, we're talking all about citizen engagement. We're highlighting the innovators, leveraging available products to better engage with the communities they serve. Our goal is to expose more local governments to the tools available by providing useful information about some of the leading products out there, ones that are working for others. We'd love for you to spend less time doing research and asking the hard questions and hopefully get to launching your digital efforts to engage with your residents more quickly. 

I'm Lindsay Pica-Alfano co-founder of Govlaunch and your host. Today, I have the pleasure of chatting with Anna Miller and Beverly Wilson from Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council. We'll dive into their approach to citizen engagement with Jonathan Bradley, who joins us from Bang the Table. Together, we'll learn about what made the council pick Bang the Table's Engagement HQ to deliver more flexible citizen friendly tools for engagement and what you should know as well in your search for a vendor.

Lindsay: (01:13)

Thank you all for joining me today. Can you each quickly introduce yourselves and share a bit about your roles? 

Bev: (01:19)

I'm Bev Wilson. I'm the council's insight and intelligence manager. Our team provides a wide range of data and insights to help the council shape local public services and make decisions.

Anna: (01:30)

I'm Anna Miller. I manage the research team within the insight and intelligence service. So we're responsible for carrying out all the primary research, engagement, consultation for the council to understand the resident's views ideas and feed those through to inform decision making for the council.

Jonathan: (01:48)

And I'm Jonathan Bradley from Bang the Table and I'm, I'm out of business and practice in the UK. What that means is we're how we're growing the business as best as we can here and working to build best practice to get the most out of online engagement as we all learn together.

Lindsay: (02:06)

Fantastic. Well, I want to start with a little history on Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council. And what your approach has been to citizen engagement prior to working with Engagement HQ. Anna or Bev, can you share a little bit more about the history of the council?

Bev: (02:21)

Uh, so I've probably been with the council the longest so shall I start. So it's quite a new council, actually, it was established in 2009, so it's quite young, really. From the outset, there was huge pressure to make sure we communicated and consulted with the public about a whole range of issues that would be important to them. And our counselors were very keen as well to make sure that we did, um, do consultation. I suppose our starting point was probably more traditional methods. So paper online surveys, focus groups, um, you know, consultation events, the sorts of things I think most people would be familiar with. So we do have that good baseline and we do have a good positive culture of consultation and engagement. We've been on quite a journey over the last few years it's fair to say. But we're now in a place where technology is just opening new doors for us. So it was quite an exciting place to be.

Lindsay: (03:13)

You've been working with Engagement HQ, which is Bang the Table's product for about 12 months now to improve these engagement efforts. Citizen engagement is a very broad term. So can you share a little bit more about specifically what you're using them for?

Anna: (03:26)

So I think for us, it's really been about transforming our digital engagement offer. Um, so the digital world is quite fast and quite furious, and I think that we're competing for potential participants' attention in that digital environment. So for us, it was about perhaps moving away from quite lengthy online surveys that we've been more reliant on in the past. And trying to think about how we can do things differently and in a more engaging way to understand people's views and ideas.

Anna: (03:52)

We still use surveys cause they still appear to appeal to a wide range of people. People like to take past them and it provides really useful, robust, valid information for the council. Um, but we're also looking at how we can add value to that now. Engagement HQ has got a wide range of different tools, which means that we can add more variety and choice to our offer in terms of how people might want to give us their feedback.

Anna: (04:15)

We've used things like the stories tools where we might want to understand people's lived experiences. So for example, we were engaging with carers to understand what life was like as a carer. So using the stories tools to get their lived experiences in that way was so much more powerful and personal way to gather that information. Um, where we've been looking at doing things like making investments across the border and different services. So for example, new walkways and cycleways, we've used things like the mapping tool and that's enabled participants to actually put a pin on a map to tell us where they think we need to make investment in walkways and cycleways and make comments around why that is what the issues were and what improvements need to be made. Then, uh, probably our favorite tool and participants' favorite tool is the ideation board.

Anna: (05:03)

We've used that many times over to try and understand residents' ideas for how things could be changed and improved in the future or how we might work together with communities to resolve problems. So climate change being a really big example of that. We've got a climate emergency at the moment that we've declared and we've gone out to communities to understand their ideas about how we can work with them to tackle the climate emergency. And it just exploded the ideas board with ideas and images and links to things out in all the different environments. And that's something that we couldn't have gathered in that way where people actually sparked off each other's ideas. And so it wasn't just people talking one way to us, people were starting to have a conversation amongst each other as well. So it brought real energy to the conversation, which was really different.

Anna: (05:50)

For us, it's now every time we approach a piece of engagement, it's looking at how many of those different tools we can use. And we always try and provide, um, a variety and use different tools so that the person that wants to read all the information in detail and wants to give us a really detailed response via survey can still do that. But the person that's sitting on the sofa watching telly, scrolling through Facebook that sees it pops up and it's got a really burning issue or idea they want to share. They can also do that really quickly. So it's really daunting at first. And I think it's taken time to polish our approach. Um, but we're getting braver each time we do an engagement exercise and we're taking on more tools and trying more new things. And it's really exciting.

Lindsay: (06:35)

Well, fantastic. There's, there's a lot going on. There's a bunch of different tools that you referenced. So Jonathan, I want to quickly pass to you. And can you outline for our listeners, what are the core tools offered by Bang the Table Engagement HQ?

Jonathan: (06:49)

Yeah, sure. There's a range of what I call dialogue tools or just some people just call them tools. So we have three tools which sit in what we call an open environment and they are the forums tool, the ideas tool and the places tool, and they're kind of really useful for when you're curious, when you're more curious than you might be at a different stage of a project, because you're asking people to come into a discussion forum, have a chat with each other on a particular topic, share their view of the world, their view of the issue, and listen to other people. So it's creating that nice safe place for discussion. The ideas tool is very much about replicating that use of post-it notes where people would say, well, this is my idea.

Jonathan: (07:30)

And they, you know, they whack it on the wall, um, or on the, on the flip chart, um, the ideas board does a very similar thing. And then the places tool really is the opportunity for people to, uh, pardon the pun, Bang the Table and pick up that pen and say, this is how I feel my neighborhood needs to be improved. These are my ideas. So t those tools for me, and the really exciting tools around that sort of creative engagement. And that's also the participant experience in that, because we can say that we want people to be involved. We can say that we really want people to influence things. It's hard to create that in a survey, that feeling, whereas those tools will create that people will walk away from the experience and say, well, I did feel that I was genuinely being involved.

Jonathan: (08:13)

And then in the controlled environment, we've got what people expect to see, which is the ability to have a survey. And there's always the right time and the right place for capturing that more quantitative data and asking people to take part in a survey. So we have a really engaging survey tool and a quick poll. And then in the middle, we've got some different tools. One around sort of questions, the ability to ask a question and the client to answer that question either privately or publicly. So it's that whole transparency thing around Q&A, and also helping people. We want you to take part in an informed way. Um, then there's the stories tool, which Anna explained really well. And then we have, uh, just a nice little guest book where sometimes there's no expectation of a right of reply. So those are the eight tools. I think that's the fastest, I can explain that. Um, so I hope it was useful and you can go on the website and have a look and find out more. 

Lindsay: (09:08)

Sure. Anna and Bev, there are quite a few products in the market, especially when you look internationally related to citizen engagement. How did you discover Bang the Table and why did you decide to go with them versus a competitor?

Bev: (09:22)

So we started, I suppose, the way a lot of people do, we did an internet search. Um, we looked for a range of digital engagement platforms because we knew we needed to do something a bit different on a lift consultation engagement into a different sphere. So as we started looking, we then started to develop a set of, uh, key requirements. Uh, we had an Excel spreadsheet, so we had had a spreadsheet and we were looking at all our requirements. And then we started, uh, rating different products that we found against each other. And then we narrowed it down to about three or four engagement platforms, and we invited those companies to come and do a demonstration. Um, some of them did have a, didn't have a built-in survey tool. And considering that was the way we'd done a lot of our consultation engagement. That was a key requirement for us. And then conversely, some of them had just survey tool, but then not much else. And we were trying to do something different. So what we were looking for was the survey tool and all these other interactive tools, uh, at a price that we could afford, because you'll know that local government budgets are so tight and so squeezed, it had to be value for money. And then we did all that. We had all the demonstrations. Engagement, HQ met our requirements. So they were the ones that came up top when we did our evaluation.

Lindsay: (10:36)

The Google search -- so many local governments are telling us, this is how this is how traditionally they've found products. And so through this podcast, through the Govlaunch platform, we're really trying to make it much easier to identify not only products in the space, but more importantly, how local governments, how your peers are leveraging these tools. Like we're trying to do with this series, it's a lot easier to get excited about a product when you can see it working for somebody else. So in terms of onboarding, how long did it take from signing the contract to implementation roughly?

Bev: (11:13)

It wasn't that long actually. Um, it took a couple of months for us to be off and running, but that was more about our internal processes. So we've got quite tight information governance procedures. We've got tight procurement processes that we have to follow. So it was our processes rather than Bang the Table and, or any holdup from them. In fact, actually I would say they were really helpful. Um, they helped us meet all our procurement regulations. They helped us with things like data security and proving that things were secure and all of those sorts of things that we have to have in place. So we had quite a few internal, um, hurdles, and then once we'd done that actually, uh, getting going was really quite quick. I mean, I don't know if Anna wants to say anything, but we have to move on on our first project really, really quickly within a couple of weeks. So once we've actually got through our own internal processes, it was a few weeks. It was really quick.

Anna: (12:08)

Yeah. Just two weeks from actually signing the contracts and having the tool to launching. So pretty rapid.

Lindsay: (12:16)

Were there any surprises once you signed on with Bang the Table, you know, things you wish you knew from the get-go?

Bev: (12:21)

I think the key lesson we learned was around moderation. So as Jonathan has described, there are a lot of open tools, as well as some closed tools. Uh, and, um, whilst Bang the Table offers a moderation service which is really helpful and they would screen for inappropriate content, uh, what they can't do and isn't appropriate for them to do, is to look for any sensitive local issues. So, um, the public don't post content nine to five, uh, like councils often work. They upload their views in the evenings and weekends, and we needed to make sure that we were monitoring things outside of our normal hours to check that nothing, no local, heated debates were being hard that needed a council response. Uh, so we needed to kind of make sure we were on top of that because there would be a big reputational risk if something hit Friday night, and then we don't see it until Monday morning and it's been going on all weekend, that just wouldn't be appropriate.

Bev: (13:13)

And again, it's about an engagement or conversation and it doesn't look good as if we, as council, we kind of like ask a question and then when we don't listen straight away. So, you know, the moderation was really important. There's another angle to it as well in that we did have a post from somebody that was really a plea for help. So fortunately we spotted it within minutes and we were able to, um, get in touch with that person and offer support. But could you just imagine if that had been left there for any length of time, you know, so we needed to make sure that we were on top of the moderation. Um, and then linked to that is this notion that we want to create this safe space for the public to share, um, ideas and thoughts. So we do ask people to register on Bang the Table and on our tools, if they're going to use these open tools, if they want to fill in a survey, it's fine, but we've made a personal decision that the way we're going to run it is that they would register.

Bev: (14:03)

And then they have a screen name. It doesn't have to be their real name, but they have, uh, an email address. And that means we've got a way of getting in touch with them. That's been something that's really key for us. Is just trying to understand the moderation, understanding how we need to keep on top of that and keep in touch. And Anna probably got a whole list. I am agendas, all of lessons learned.

Anna: (14:25)

Yeah. So I think moderation is definitely one. I was thinking as Bev was talking then that actually, while we have to keep more of an eye on it, actually the fact that the information is live makes it more valuable. Cause if that had come in, in a survey, it might have sat in a pile until the analysis stage, whereas because it's live and you're keeping track of it, you're getting a feel for what's happening as the projects going on. So there's advantages and disadvantages, I suppose. Um, the other thing for me is around again, its advantages and disadvantages. So we're using this wide range of tools on the site to give people choice and give people variety and to gather different levels of information from people. But what that also means is that you've got a vast amount of information that comes back in when you're coming to analyze it.

Anna: (15:10)

So previously you might've just had a survey to analyze, you might have done a focus group or an event, and that kind of felt manageable. Um, this takes that to a whole new level, I think really. So, um, we're using open to tools, mixed tools, closed tools on the platform. In addition to that, it's still really important for us to have an offline element to make sure we're inclusive. So we've still got things like focus groups and events, um, interviews happening when COVID allows that. The challenge has been getting our head round, the amount of information that we get back and how we distill that down to tell a really important story around what the data's telling us. So I think part of that is that we still haven't yet maximized some of the inbuilt analysis tools of, uh, participate now that can help us with that.

Anna: (16:00)

The survey is still the center of our engagement plan. Um, just because that helps us to organize ourselves. So that might be the center of our engagement plan. And we might still have a survey as part of what we're doing, but then we look at the survey, we break the survey down, we make sure that we look at the questions in the survey. We look at the tools we've got available to us and we work out which questions are going to work best across which types of tools and what that means is that when it comes to knitting it all back together, we can knit it. Cause we've got a pattern which we've got from the survey. So that enables us to knit that story back in quite a powerful way again, um, so that we can run through the story and bring in all the relevant tools at the relevant places within that story, um, to make sure that we're getting the key messages across that have come out across all of the tools, because it's not about telling a story from each different tool. It's about bringing that all back together to try and put across the key and most powerful messages that are going to be really important to informing what's going to happen going forward with a service or a strategy or a decision or something like that.

Lindsay: (17:10)

Well, I think you both gave a great overview of two main points that local government should take away. And this isn't necessarily related to Bang the Table. It's going to be related to any type of digital citizen engagement platform. And that is two things. One as Bev pointed out, you're available now 24 /7 or your community thinks you should be, um, so capacity modeling around that or strategically figuring out how you're going to be addressing those questions off hours. And then separately, you have a wealth of data that you now have access to that you never had before, which can be very overwhelming if you don't have the staff or a data scientist to go through and make sense of it. This issue around data, I want to pass it to you, Jonathan, and talk about specifically tools Bang the Table has to help make sense of some of the data. How are you relaying this data to the local authority? 

Jonathan: (18:04)

In terms of the data side it's, uh, such a big challenge for the whole industry and everybody working in this area, because I think there's a real sort of feeling that we want to take the public discourse off social media and into these platforms, and that is going to generate a lot more qualitative, conversational type of type of information. So in terms of Engagement HQ, where we're having to respond to that. So we have a text analysis tool that is a reasonably new addition. We've got a sentiment analysis tool which uses artificial intelligence, which is scary in itself to, um, analyze, analyze some of the commentary and, and give that overview. We've also got a survey analysis tool. 

Anna: (18:51)

I think that, um, maybe the part of the difficulty is that we know the value of all that data. We understand the value of that. And so I think, and we want to do that data justice, and we want do justice to the time that people have given and taken to give us their comments, because it's just so valuable. People are really keen to understand the key messages really quickly so they can take action on them. So it's probably about finding the right compromise between reading every single comment and turning it around as quickly as you can. So that the value of what people are saying can be actioned and can be worked on and can be turned around as quickly as possible to make positive change, I suppose. Really?

Jonathan: (19:30)

Yeah, definitely.

Lindsay: (19:32)

And, Anna and Bev, how much internal training was required for your launch of Engagement HQ to the public?

Anna: (19:39)

Very little, um, we had half a days training before launch, uh, and we were terrified, um, because we said earlier on, we had two weeks from, um, getting the platform to a really important launch of our first consultation on it. And that felt incredibly daunting. We came away from that half day training session thinking, how are we going to do this? Um, thankfully though, it's a really intuitive tool. It is genuinely really easy to use. Um, there's lots of help articles available, which are really good. And I think our favorite function is probably there's, um, a chat bot, uh, in the corner of the administration side of the system.

Anna: (20:20)

Um, so if you're ever struggling with something, you just ask a question, um, um, they come back to you within minutes. Um, for my sins, there's been many occasion now, so far when it's the week before the launch of a project and I'm on my own working late into the evening or the night and the rest of the team's gone offline and I've maybe come across an issue and I don't know how to solve it. And I suddenly realize that the chat functions there and invariably I've gone to them, I've asked them and within minutes it's been sorted and it's panic over. Um, so, you know, you don't need so much training because it's really intuitive. Um, and once you get going with it, I think you just learn more and more about it. I think, um, it takes time to understand it and really get your head around the tools and the widgets and how you can really maximize what you use them for and therefore you, what you get out of them. Um, but I think, you know, once you get going with it, you just pick it up really quickly, um, and really enjoy working with it as well. I think probably, um, but that's just our team, um, at the moment, we're now looking at how we can roll it out across the rest of the organization and a training model for that. So I don't know if Beth wants to say a bit more about that as well.

Bev: (21:36)

Yeah. Thanks Anna. I mean, just to add to what you've said, it is a really intuitive tool, but, uh, I think the scale lies in, uh, the skill of the researcher in using the tool to best effect. Because actually the platform is really quite easy and, and that's how we got away with half a day's worth of training, but it's a skill of the researcher to know how to use the tools, which are the right ones to use and on how to find the questions and, and all the traditional skills, if you like that people will have. Uh, but as Anna said, uh, we originally kept the platform within our team for the first 12 months because we needed to understand it. We needed to understand the power of it. We needed to learn the lessons if you like. A bit like the ones we flagged around moderation, for example, and, um, how to kind of break consultations down and use the tool properly.

Bev: (22:25)

So we kept it within our team to start with, but we do have a plan to try and roll it out because the demand is such for this platform. It's gone down a storm, it's gone down really well with our organization and people need to use it for their purposes. So we have a plan to bring our communications team on board with it, and they will use it for a different purpose, but, um, our communications team will use it. Our economic regeneration will use it for very local, uh, development issues. Uh, our libraries team want to use it to lift like reading challenges online and make those interactive, um, which has been particularly important in the pandemic. So we want to work with a range of different teams, um, within the council and train them to a high level. So we're working with Bang the Table on, uh, trying to put together like an engagement portal within our platform so that we can provide learning resources and, um, uh, training for our colleagues. So it doesn't just fall to us to do everything and we can have, uh, some well-trained colleagues and other teams. Um, but yeah, it's a, it's a way of us trying to spread the skills really, and, and spread that, that training across. So yeah, that's quite new. We're working on that now.

Lindsay: (23:31)

Exciting. Shifting gears a little, the pandemic has had a big impact on your citizen engagement strategy. With a tool like Engagement HQ already in place, can you break down for me some of the creative ways you're leveraging them to engage more digitally during these unprecedented times?

Bev: (23:51)

Uh, I'll let Anna give you some examples actually, but it's probably worth mentioning that we are so glad that we bought this just before the pandemic. I was like a huge sigh of relief that we had a really good alternative that we could rely on because the consultation didn't stop that kept going. Um, and it's given us a way to kind of lift our engagement into this digital world with a much better offer than we could have done previously. It's worth noting that we have had to supplement this with, um, other more traditional methods. So surveys like postal surveys and telephone service for those that are not digitally enabled, because we need to make sure that it's inclusive, but I'm so glad that we had the platform. I mean, I can give you some examples of how we've used it really that have been quite creative.

Anna: (24:36)

Um, probably the best ones inspire isn't it? So I think what's really interesting for us is that when we got the tool, um, we bought it as research officers. We bought it to carry out research and consultation and engagement to understand people's views, to be able to feed that through, provide evidence-based informed decision-making, but actually we've realized it can offer so much more than that. And I think maybe the pandemic has forced that a little bit to some degree. So as an example, we're actually now beginning to use it as a key communications tool for the council. Um, so, um, during the pandemic, um, community spirit has really shown brightly. I think, you know, in our borough, as it has across the UK and across the world, people have pulled together to help each other. Um, and we wanted to try and capture that.

Anna: (25:26)

Um, so we developed, um, an area of our platform called Inspire Cheshire West, where we were really using it as a communications tool to create a place for community conversation. So for example, we used the stories tool to enable people to share really positive stories from their own communities about how community groups or individuals were helping each other out through the pandemic and things like that. And it was really heartwarming to see all these positive stories coming out of, um, the situation that we're all in at the moment. Um, in addition to that, we used ideas boards at the very start of the pandemic. Um, when we all went into lockdown. We had different ideas boards set up where people could share ideas on different things.

Anna: (26:12)

So for example, we've had an ideas board around kind of like physical and mental health and how you can improve that, um, uh, ideas for children, young people staying at home and the dreaded home learning woven into that, um, ideas for how adults could keep busy. So people would share ideas. For example, if they’ve seen an online art event or a recipe that they could make with just cupboard ingredients just to share, but a few, um, what else did we do? So also we had, uh, another ideas board set up. So this is where we've started to repurpose some of the, um, Engagement HQ tools for different things. So the purpose of the ideas board is for people to share ideas, but during the pandemic, um, I'm sure you'll be aware that rainbows in people's windows became a symbol of hope. Um, and we really wanted to capture that as well. So we got people to use an ideas board to be able to upload photographs of the rainbows that they've put in their windows or on their driveways or on the bricks of their house and things like that.

Anna: (27:12)

And we've got this gorgeous gallery of rainbows across the borough and things like that. Um, and another, we use another ideas board again, um, for people to be able to thank the people that had helped them. So I think it's just really exciting for us just the more that we're using Engagement HQ, the more we're realizing about how much it offers. And I think the only thing that restricts you really is your imagination, um, and your experience of using Engagement HQ to really understand how you can get the most out of the tools and the widgets that are there and use them, perhaps not just for what they were intended for gathering ideas or for gathering stories, but actually to think about how can you actually repurpose that or apply that in a different way to doing something either more exciting or even more different than you've done before. So, yeah, it's great.

Lindsay: (28:01)

Wow. Yeah. There's a breadth of opportunity out there for citizen engagement. It sounds like Bang the Table’s Engagement HQ will enable all of these creative ideas. So fantastic. What is some advice you'd like another local authority to keep in mind when looking for vendors for citizen engagement tools and why you specifically advocate using Engagement HQ?

Bev: (28:21)

I think the things to bear in mind for local government, particularly we have scarce resources. So not just financial resources, but staff capacity. So it needs to provide value for money and it needs to be cost effective. So that's the first thing. The other thing that that's been really key for us is it's easy to use. So we've had a range of staff use it without technical know-how and they've picked her up with half a days training and launched a major consultation a fortnight later. I'm not saying that was easy, but they did, but it was, the tool was easy to use. Uh, and then again, as Anna was talking about how we've been repurposing the tools, it's that flexibility, you can personalize it and adapt it for your own needs. And every organization, every local government will be different and have their own personality. And you need to kind of be able to choose something that suits your needs and is flexible. That's what I would say.

Anna: (29:14)

I think building on that, it's not just about looking at what you're already doing and how you can take that online. It's about thinking through how you can do something better than what you're already doing online. How can you change what you're doing and transform what you're doing and make it better? So I think there is a culture of over-reliance and overdependence on the traditional survey. Um, I think there's a reason for that. I think that a survey can provide really robust and really valid data to inform decision making. But I think it's thinking about how do you go beyond that? You don't just want an online survey tool. You want an online engagement tool that can offer you a strong survey tool, but can also offer you a lot more so that you are providing choice and variety for the public in terms of how they might want to take part and how they might want to give you their views. And in a way that is similar to how they're used to interacting in an online environment in their personal lives. Councils tend to be very traditional in the way that they go about things. And I think it's about really challenging that and thinking about how you can do things differently. So you could compete with everything else that's out there in the digital environment to get people's attention and to get their views, um, so that they can have their voice heard really. Don't stay safe and go for what you've always done. Try and think about how you could better what you've done, um, and really mix things up and do things differently in the future.

Lindsay: (30:40)

Great advice. And Jonathan, what are your top takeaways for local governments looking for a citizen engagement solution?

Jonathan: (30:46)

In terms of takeaways, um, we keep, we keep saying the word platform and it is that, um, you want, you want a variety of tools. You want a variety of widgets. You want to be able to analyze and report on your data and have, and be able to use things like a participant database to get back to people so that, so that, you know, having it all in one place, I don't think people want to be buying this tool, that tool and having multiple suppliers and all the rest of it. So that's one. And then like Anna said, you know, people, people want to engage in ways that they do in their day-to-day life. So we must keep pace with stuff that isn't govtech, um, and integrate it into what we do. And then I think finally you can't just be about the software. You have to also have that ability to translate the product into the success for people like Bev and Anna. 

Lindsay: (31:33)

Great. Well, thank you again Bev and Anna for sharing your important work with those looking for tools to better engage with the communities they serve. Keep up the exciting work in Cheshire West and Chester Borough, and good luck to Jonathan on behalf of Engagement HQ. We really love what you guys are all about. So thanks again for being here.

Bev: (31:52)

Thank you.

Jonathan: (31:52)

Thank you

Lindsay: (31:59)

You're seeking a full suite solution for engagement that can be put to work across your organization. Engagement HQ may be a good fit. Want more than just a survey tool and would like to explore more comprehensive platforms to support your engagement efforts. Visit gov launch, to find out more about Engagement HQ, and action across local governments like yours. Stay tuned for more episodes in this series where we look to other leading platforms in the citizen engagement space. I'm Lindsay Pica-Alfano, and this podcast was produced by gov launch the Wiki for local government innovation. You can subscribe to hear more stories like this, wherever you get your podcasts. If you're a local government innovator, we hope you'll help us on our mission to build the largest free resource for local governments globally. You can join to search and contribute to the wiki at Thanks for tuning in. We hope to see you next time on the Govlaunch podcast.