The Resilient Boulder's Ready to Respond campaign uses Bang the Table tools where residents can submit their prepareness tips, fill out a survey and share stories of how they're prepared.

Australian software helping Colorado governments engage with citizens

BOULDER — As communities become increasingly divided over values and politics, one Australian software company that’s now based in Boulder thinks they have the tool to help local governments actually engage with community members.

Bang The Table is a platform started 10 years ago by former career bureaucrats. The issue they noticed, said CEO Matthew Crozier, was that any time they held an event to meet with community members, the same five or six people would come every time.

“We needed to hear from the community for strategy, but those same people didn’t represent the whole community,” Crozier said. “We decided to use the Web to connect more people.”

Bang the Table was formed, so named for what people do when they’re so passionate about something they have to be heard. The company provides a software platform specifically geared toward local governments. Through Bang the Table, clients can create their own branded website with engagement tools embedded in it.

In 10 years, Bang the Table has grown to the point where one-third of government organizations is Australia use it, as well as groups in New Zealand and Canada.

About a year ago, Crozier started looking at expansion in the United States, where one city stood out.

“Boulder is progressive for government, it’s proactive in reaching out to citizens,” he said. “Colorado is doing good work here. It’s also in the middle of the U.S., and our competitors are here. There are a lot of cities that are ready to adopt this technology.”

Clients include Boulder, Fort Collins, Aspen and Louisville, among others.

Bang the Table offers eight different engagement tools to include on sites: surveys, polls, questions, a guest book, stories, mapping feature, an ideas box and forums. Depending on what government is seeking engagement on, clients can choose which of these tools work best for them.

Resilient Boulder, part of the 100 Resilient Cities program for preparing cities for any sort of disaster or disruption, uses Bang the Table. Chief Resilience Officer Greg Guibert said the site, which Boulder has been actively using for the last three months, has been key for reaching different members of the community.

“The challenge local government has, and Boulder is no exception, is reaching a broader and more diverse set of community members,” Guibert said. “We cover challenging topics, and so we’re looking for ways to communicate, and this has proven to be fantastic for that. There’s a seamless integration of the tools, it’s easy to use on the backend. There’s a varied user experience that is also meaningful. It’s perfect for the types of conversations we’re having around risk and resilience.”

Bang the Table’s websites use eight different engagement tools, including surveys, questions, mapping and forums.

In fact, on June 29, Resilient Boulder used the site to launch a new campaign to protect the city’s ash trees. For that campaign, residents can map where they spot local ash trees so the city can examine them. They can also submit specific questions and have them answered by the city and keep track on what’s going on through a news feed.

While Internet discussions can be increasingly polarized, Bang the Table has found that through its system, which is moderated around the clock, and by posting positively framed questions, cities can have productive discussions.

“People are able to break out of the echo chamber, and you can see a community debate issues,” Crozier said.

Discussions are monitored by Bang the Table but are never edited, and if a post is deleted, the user is emailed exactly why so that they are aware and can resubmit a rephrased response. To protect identities — made all the more important because some cities who use Bang the Table are as small as 700 people — only screen names are posted.

“It’s a safe space,” Crozier said. “A wrong comment can take a discussion from constructive to awful.”

Bang the Table is also a B. Corp. certified company and has an engagement-management team in place to help clients with their strategy for campaigns. The cost to use Bang the Table is scaled based on the size of the city, and clients can have unlimited campaigns using the platform.

With 100 projects a week globally, Bang the Table thinks that it has an engagement tool that can actually help bring communities together, despite worldwide divisiveness seen in government and politics.

“We have a long way to go to get great engagement in the world,” Crozier said. “That’s a big enough mission for my life. But I find that when you step away from the political, there are issues that are not partisan. This is just tossing ideas, which is how it should be. Cyclists on the right and left can just talk about cycle-path issues. They talk as a neighborhood. I believe that’s the answer.”

 

BOULDER — As communities become increasingly divided over values and politics, one Australian software company that’s now based in Boulder thinks they have the tool to help local governments actually engage with community members.

Bang The Table is a platform started 10 years ago by former career bureaucrats. The issue they noticed, said CEO Matthew Crozier, was that any time they held an event to meet with community members, the same five or six people would come every time.

“We needed to hear from the community for strategy, but those same people didn’t represent the whole community,” Crozier said. “We decided to use the Web to connect more people.”

Bang the Table was formed, so named for what people do when they’re so passionate about something they have to be heard. The company provides a software platform specifically geared toward local governments. Through Bang the Table, clients can create their own branded website with engagement tools embedded in it.

In 10 years, Bang the Table has grown to the point where one-third of government organizations is Australia use it, as well as groups in New Zealand and Canada.

About a year ago, Crozier started looking at expansion in the United States, where one city stood out.

“Boulder is progressive for government, it’s proactive in reaching out to citizens,” he said. “Colorado is doing good work here. It’s also in the middle of the U.S., and our competitors are here. There are a lot of cities that are ready to adopt this technology.”…