The town has been testing two online engagement platforms intended to make public participation easier for the community. A portion of the pilot projects was part of the Small Places, Big Ideas Innovation Cohort, of which the town was an inaugural member. The pilot of the Bang the Table platform is complete. The pilot of the Polco platform has been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The town is testing the online engagement platform Polco to try to hear from more people in the community. Questions for residents and water and sewer customers will be posted on Polco’s app and website, where the community can answer and comment on the questions. The platform is expected to:
- Provide a fast way for the community to learn about specific issues and give their input.
- Allow the town to reach out to residents through different communication channels while gathering responses in one central location.
- Keep individual opinions anonymous, while allowing town staff to see broad demographic and geographic breakdowns.
Hillsborough has the option to test the platform through January 2021. Staff will determine whether to continue its use after the pilot based on community feedback, usage data and input from additional town employees, advisory boards and the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners.
How to participate
To participate, community members should go to polco.us/hillsboroughnc. You can respond online or download the Polco app for Android or iOS. Once you have participated in the survey, you will be asked to provide:
- Name and ZIP code to confirm where you live ― This allows town staff to be sure they are hearing from each person only once and to see which general area of the Hillsborough area respondents live in.
- Email address ― This will allow the town to easily contact you with future questions for your input.
Responses will remain anonymous, and personal information will be securely stored on Polco. The platform only shares anonymous, combined results. Participants’ individual data and votes are never shared.
What does Polco do with my personal information (name, email and ZIP code)?
Polco uses your name and ZIP code to verify your residency against publicly available voter information in the state. With verified respondents, the risk of one person answering many times is reduced.
Why should I create an account?
By creating an account, you can find out when we post a new question on Polco. Your email address is needed to create an account.
What is Polco?
Why am I receiving weekly emails?
If a question has been posted on Polco within the past 30 days and you have not answered it, you will receive a weekly email. You can opt out of these emails at any time.
How do I opt out of emails?
At the bottom of each email is a link to stop receiving messages. Simply click the link and follow the instructions to unsubscribe.
I’m a registered voter. Why am I not verified?
Sometimes Polco isn’t able to match personal information against a voter file. This is generally because of a recent change of address (the public file updates quarterly) or spelling inconsistencies. If you think you should be on the voter list and are not matched, contact Polco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why did I receive a question from groups that aren’t my municipal or county government?
Polco helps build and sustain a dialogue about public policy in communities. While most questions are from local governments and elected officials, a few other agencies might also use Polco: news organizations, school or special districts, universities and nonprofits. If Hillsborough overlaps boundaries with any of these entities, you can choose to subscribe to get their questions too. You will not receive those questions without your consent.
The town tested the online engagement software platform EngagementHQ from Bang the Table to try to make public participation easier for the community. The Engage Hillsborough site was expected to be:
- A quick, safe and convenient way for community members to have their say on a range of issues and topics.
- An easy way for community members to keep up to date on issues affecting them.
- A way to allow for a range of different people with different views to discuss matters that affect the community.
Engage Hillsborough offered a variety of interactive tools, including discussion forums, polls, surveys and crowdsource mapping.
The Town of Hillsborough was a member of the inaugural Small Places, Big Ideas Innovation Cohort, which is supported by the professional association Engaging Local Government Leaders and the software platform UrbanLeap, which helps cities test and evaluate innovative solutions. The cohort consists of local governments across the country that partner to address shared challenges. Hillsborough focused on civic engagement with Morrisville, Rolesville and Sanford under the umbrella of the Triangle J Council of Governments.