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City begins online discussions with residents about variety of issues
In an effort to hear from more and different people in the community, the City of Redmond recently started a community engagement process online through IdeaScale.com.
The Redmond Police Department (RPD) has used IdeaScale in the past, but City of Redmond senior planner Kim Dietz said this is the first time other departments within the city have utilized the online forum. She said the city wanted to explore how they could engage the community online so they followed RPD’s example. She added that at the same time, RPD wanted to expand their topic questions on IdeaScale.
“It all sort of happened,” Dietz said about the timing of how things came together.
In honor of May being National Bike Month, the city’s first online discussion focuses on biking around town.
Dietz said through the “Get Around — Biking in Redmond” campaign, the city wants to learn what people’s experiences of biking around town are like. The campaign is through the city’s neighborhoods program and so she said they want to know from neighborhood to neighborhood, what sorts of things support bicyclists and what sort of things are challenges that prevent them from riding.
“Really, we want to know everything,” Dietz said.
And as a city planner who oversees neighborhood planning, Dietz said the campaign is also a check-in for them with all 10 Redmond neighborhoods.
“It really applies to everyone,” she said about biking.
These online conversations will give community members a chance to speak with city staff as well as with each other to ask questions, share concerns and issues and to make possible suggestions.
Dietz said the idea is for the topics discussed on the forum to lead to conversations with applicable commissions and boards and City Council, and to hopefully shape future policy.
Dietz said the city has been looking at statistics to see how many people are visiting the IdeaScale website, how they are getting to it and how many people are participating. If the Get Around campaign is successful and it looks like online engagement is something the community enjoys, she said they will look into discussing other transportation-related topics online such as transit and walking, as well as non-transportation-related topics. She said these topics could be suggested by city staff or by community members, depending on how the conversations go.
“We are open to any and all topics,” Dietz said.
She said through the online forum, the city has also gained a new audience in the bicycling and online communities. Through past community engagement programs and events, she said they would often see the same people. IdeaScale has allowed the city to tap into a demographic they hadn’t engaged with previously.
“These are people that we haven’t met,” Dietz said.
To get more people to participate in the online conversation, Dietz said the city also had a booth at the recent Bike Bash event on May 16. Following the event, she said they did see more visits to the IdeaScale website.
The Get Around campaign began May 1 and will run through June 15. To participate in the online conversation, visit www.redmond.gov/getaround.