Muskegon encourages use of new online platform to gain insight and share ideas

MUSKEGON, MI – Move on Facebook, the town of Muskegon has a new online community engagement platform, officials say, is more useful and interactive.

The city has contracted with Bang the Table to host the online community platform called Connect Muskegon. There, residents and non-residents can learn about events, city employees and services and ask questions.

Conversely, the city can collect feedback from participants and collect data on particular neighborhoods.

This means the city can get its message out without depriving itself of off-topic or uncivil comments, said Frank Peterson, city manager of Muskegon.

Connect Muskegon is available at connectmkgcity.com.

“It allows us to provide information, to gather feedback, but not to have an open public debate every time we hear someone wanting to replace a lamppost,” Peterson said. “We think this will keep the dialogue a bit cleaner.”

Related: Best Bang the Table Website Community Engagement for the Town of Muskegon

With the required registration, the city can determine which neighborhoods users are from – or whether they are from the city at all – which helps officials understand the particular needs or issues in various parts of the city, a said Peterson.

The city board agreed earlier this year to pay $ 16,900 for a one-year contract with Bang the Table. This includes a one-time “integration cost” of $ 1,900 that the city will not have to pay if it later decides to extend the contract.

The online platform, created in Australia 15 years ago, is designed specifically for communication between government entities and their constituents.

It allows the city to publish polls, participate in polls, organize forums and foster pride in the city. For example, a recently concluded photo contest for photos in the city gave winners $ 50 Muskegon Farmers’ Market gift certificates.

Another current feature is an introduction to each of the city’s eight neighborhood police officers, with the ability to ask questions and provide feedback about the police department.

City officials are also using Connect Muskegon to gather feedback on how citizens like to communicate with the city, whether through meetings, online forums, surveys, or written submissions.

“The great thing about the program is that it not only allows us to get … our message across, but it also allows us to contribute to the way the message is delivered,” said Peterson.

Speaking of Facebook, the city has also recently increased its use of the networking site as part of its commitment to improve its communication. However, the moderator has disabled comments on Facebook, which helps prevent “feuds” between users and topics from turning into political fights, Peterson said.

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