How can we build civic engagement tools for the 21st century?
We will be building a digital civic engagement platform that will make citizen engagement, citizen decision-making, and organizing a lot more accessible to all audiences.
One of the first iterations is the “Knock My Block” initiative, which is a block club network that improves public safety and creates a social network for neighbors. The neighborhood is broken down into block clusters. Each cluster has block leaders who are responsible for those residents forming a block club. Residents in the block club can be provided pertinent information if there are dangers, emergencies, and/or public announcement using their desired contact information. In addition, social residents can communicate with each other to form social networks. Unlike social media, these networks are semi-private, so residents can share suspicious behavior with neighbors without being personally attacked for their intentions; and crime notifications are local.
During a potential emergency situation where law enforcement is overwhelmed, such as during the civil unrest, the block networks can provide rapid communication channels to inform residents, mobilize residents to protect their neighborhood and vulnerable residents, and, for post-disaster, the block-level communication channel can be used to aid citizens by connecting them to city resources and/or mutual aid groups. This is part of the Neighborhood Emergency Protection Initiative (NEPI).