HELENA — The City of Helena unveiled a new online platform to make it easier for the public to engage with their local government.
The platform, named “Be Heard Helena”, features select city projects that are seeking public participation as part of a decision-making process. The public can access the Be Heard Helena site on a computer or mobile device. The City Manager says the platform was initially created to encourage Helena residents to get involved with the fiscal year 2022 budget planning process.
“Be Heard Helena is a platform for us to collect information and share, not only the kinds of work we've been doing on the strategic plan, but also asking key questions like, what do you think of seeing safe community ideas as a priority for the community,” says Rachel Harlow-Schalk, Helena’s City Manager. “These are some of the activities that the commission is looking at, are these the right ones? What are the ones you think need to be asked?"
The site also includes individual project pages that house background information, and project updates. It also invites participation through interactive tools like surveys, discussion forums, and tagging a map with ideas. Staff will use the online feedback to reach a more representative cross-section of the community.
“With Be Heard, we can collect information, collect input, and share back out what we learn and continue that transparency from the beginning of a project all the way to the end," says Harlow-Schalk.
The city will pilot Be Heard Helena until 2022 and develop best practices from lessons learned.
While registration is not required to access Be Heard Helena, the city says it is necessary for many of the more interactive engagement opportunities. You can still provide feedback the traditional way of phone calls or emails to the city.