Civic engagement is one of the most popular topics these days. I recently met with a town manager who is anxious to improve engagement but needs to verify that he is speaking with current residents of his community. People often look to social media as the best way to engage with citizens. However, local government leaders have realized that social media has been dominated by activists who overwhelm the voice of average citizens.

At TownCloud, our mission is to use the regular interactions with citizens (utilities, taxes, permits, licenses) to allow citizens to create a verified profile that defines how they want to engage with the community. This approach not only makes routine transactions easier, but can also be used to let the town know how citizens like to communicate. As an example, a citizen can specify that they want meeting information emailed to them (rather than having to find it on a website). Similarly, the town can use the verified profile to solicit feedback on a wide variety of issues.

We believe that effective citizen engagement is built into business applications and not a separate silo of information.