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Activate Wichita

Wichita Public Library, KS
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Innovation Summary

Activate Wichita is an online town hall created by the Library to increase engagement on library programs and services as well as broader community issues. The service just completed its first year. The site has over 1000 active participants ages 14-65+ with an average of 5,400 page views per month.

Problem Statement

Both the Library and the City of Wichita were struggling to engage citizens in conversation about important issues. Attendance at community meetings was small, frequently attracting the same group of residents. Through Activate Wichita, the Library helped to broaden the conversation so that everyone had greater opportunities to participate. Ideas and feedback can be received 24/7. Those hesitant to speak in a public meeting have a more comfortable forum for sharing their opinions. In adiditon to helping to broaden the community conversation, Activate Wichita has helped to demonstrate the way that libraries are changing their roles to more actively partner and interact with their communities.

Innovation

The key elements of our innovation included:

  • good communication and support with City Management and elected officials
  • selection of a technology partner (MindMixer) capable of supporting the online engagement and delivering useful data
  • promotion of the service through unexpected forums such as community festivals
  • deliberate plan to update partiicpants on the outcomes generated from their ideas

Progress

Since inception, the site has received more than 10,000 visitors with more than 5,400 page views per month. There are now more than 1,000 activate participants in the site. Information has been used by the library to modify programs and services. Other City services have obtained feedback about budgets, water conversation, use of federal funding, master planning, proposed changes to ordinances and a variety of other information. Because of the value created by the service, the City of Wichita has developed a plan to integrate it into the tools of a newly created Office of Citizen Engagement.