The town is testing two online engagement platforms intended to make public participation easier for the community. A three-month portion of the pilot projects (February-April 2020) is part of the Small Places, Big Ideas Innovation Cohort. The town is a member of the inaugural cohort, and staff will report to the cohort and others in May 2020 on the results of their use of the platforms.
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 is testing the online engagement software platform EngagementHQ from Bang the Table to try to make public participation easier for the community. The Engage Hillsborough site is 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 offers a variety of interactive tools, including discussion forums, polls, surveys and crowdsource mapping. Participants' feedback will be used in conjunction with other activities ― such as meetings, open houses or surveys ― to reach a more representative cross-section of the community.
Hillsborough will pilot Engage Hillsborough through July 2020. Staff will determine whether to continue use of the platform 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 register at engage.hillsboroughnc.gov/register, where you’ll create a username and password and complete a few questions about yourself. Your comments will appear under your username, and you can comment anonymously through a username of your choice. The registration questions will help the town determine who is participating in online opportunities and whether the town is meeting its goal of being as representative of the community as possible.
The Town of Hillsborough is 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 have partnered to address shared challenges. Hillsborough is focusing on civic engagement with Morrisville, Rolesville and Sanford under the umbrella of the Triangle J Council of Governments.