Cities must do a better job communicating!

Cities and other municipalities should communicate with residents to keep them informed about important issues and developments affecting the city. This can include things like road closures, construction projects, public safety alerts, rapidly changing weather conditions, upcoming events and more.

By keeping residents informed, a city can foster a sense of community and ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the issues that matter most to the city. Additionally, regular communication with residents can help the city gather feedback and input from the community, which can be valuable for decision-making and planning purposes. Overall, effective communication between a city and its residents is crucial for maintaining a healthy and engaged community.

But what is effective communication?  Is it just sending periodic emails or newsletters so that you can check a box and consider it done? Do you have the language skills to ensure that everyone in the community (and I mean everyone – not Pareto’s 80%) is afforded the opportunity to understand what you have to say? Do you have anyone with vision impairments? You probably do, but do you know?

In the MessageSpring world, effective communication means sending a message and being confident that marginalized people who don’t speak your language can receive your messages in a way that they can best understand it. This means that you’re sending messages to them:

  1. In a channel that’s convenient for them, and
  2. In a language that they understand, and
  3. With the ability for them to listen (rather than just read), and
  4. For the vision impaired, in compliance with ADA/WCAG standards, and
  5. Tagged with topics of interest to ensure that you are not over-communicating and driving people away.

As a city, failing to effectively communicate with your residents can lead to suboptimal outcomes. Namely,:

  1. Lack of access to information: If a city does not communicate with its residents in the languages they understand, it can lead to a lack of access to important information for those residents. This can include information about public services, community events, emergency notifications, and more.
  2. Limited engagement: When a city does not communicate with its residents in their preferred languages or channels, it can limit the ability of those residents to engage with their community and participate in the decision-making process. This can lead to a feeling of disconnection and exclusion from the community.
  3. Decreased trust: If a city does not make an effort to communicate with its diverse residents in their preferred languages and channels, it can erode trust and create a sense of disconnection between the city and its residents. This can make it harder for the city to effectively serve and address the needs of its diverse population.
  4. Poor service delivery: If a city does not communicate effectively with its residents, it can lead to misunderstandings and poor service delivery. For example, if a city provides information about a public service in a language that is not understood by some residents, they may not be able to access or utilize that service.

In addition, in the absence of a comprehensive and integrated communication strategy, cities will end up with duplicate work and many residents will be left out.

A failure to communicate with residents effectively can lead to a variety of negative outcomes, including a lack of access to information, limited engagement, decreased trust, and poor service delivery.