Capital projects are among the largest line items in any municipal budget, and as such, are among the highest sources of grief and outrage from the public if they feel their tax dollars are being wasted or used in a way that does not align with community priorities.To further rub salt in the wound, those same residents will be reminded of those feelings every time they pass by the complete capital project - the revitalized public park, new building, or overhauled recreation center will serve to remind them that they were not consulted in the expenditure of their tax dollars. Those feelings lead to further distrust in government and lower engagement on future plans and projects.
How can municipal planners escape this vicious cycle of discontentment? By adding fairness and transparency to the capital project planning process. Ethelo can accomplish both of these aims, using a platform that’s easy for residents to engage with and city staff to analyze.
Ethelo is fully customizable and allows capital project planners to request input on an any number of project aspects. Constraints such as budget, physical space, and greenhouse gas emissions can be easily added, having the dual benefit of educating participants on project parameters, and ensuring public feedback remains realistic and constructive.
Participants express their preferences for each aspect of the project within the given constraints, making comments, and interacting with one another along the way. The opportunity for communication and engagement within the platform conveys transparency, builds trust and reinforces to the community’s residents that they are working together towards a common goal.
As residents weigh in and complete the consultation, Ethelo’s algorithm generates solutions that have the highest amount of consensus. The process looks for solutions that reduce political polarization, which can lead to feelings of unrest as the project proceeds.
By instead focusing on fairness, Ethelo ensures that residents will feel satisfied that their voice was heard — even if they don’t agree entirely with the final decisions.
Ethelo also does all of the heavy lifting when it comes to analyzing participant responses. Municipal staff have access to the data, but do not have to spend their valuable time crunching numbers or logging individual comments. The data is ready-made for reports to project stakeholders.
Looking to learn more about how Ethelo can help with your next capital project? Watch our video overview or contact us using the form below.