We are pleased to announce the release of 5 Lessons for Tech-Powered Civic Engagement: The Charles Benton Next Generation Engagement Award Playbook, which highlights best practices to leverage technology for civic engagement and digital inclusion initiatives.


The Playbook includes learning from the three Benton Next Generation Engagement Award winning cities (awarded in 2016), as well as other best practices and city models. It is geared towards local government leaders and practitioners as they work to more effectively empower residents using broadband connectivity.


The Playbook was launched at an event co-hosted by Next Century Cities and Google, at which representatives from all three inaugural Charles Benton Next Generation Engagement Award winning cities — Austin, Texas; Louisville, Kentucky; Raleigh, North Carolina — spoke about the work they have accomplished in the past year. Their work, and the innovative work of other cities across the country, is all highlighted in depth in the Playbook.


Through local experience and research, we identified five key lessons learned that community leaders can employ as they leverage increased next-generation access to expand civic engagement initiatives, each of which are explored at length in the sections of this Playbook. The five main lessons explored in the new Charles Benton Next Generation Engagement Playbook are as follows:


1. Build With, Not For – Each community knows its own needs best, so engaging stakeholders across the impacted area during the project’s initial phase is key.

2. Partnership Breeds Results – Cross-sector collaboration brings expertise to the table and promotes buy-in.

3. Civic Technology Is a Spectrum – A city’s approach should match its goal, and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to engaging citizens.

4. The Multiplier Effect – Effective civic technology programs yield benefits far beyond their immediate goals.

5. Changing Communities for the Better – Well-executed digital civic engagement projects ensure citizens’ voices are heard in new and interactive ways, which can lead to increased feelings of empowerment, a greater level of ownership and attachment to the community.


The Playbook also includes a Civic Engagement Checklist that community leaders can use from the ideas stage through the implementation of technological civic engagement and digital inclusion projects.  


To further encourage and facilitate these important projects, we have created a new resource category on our website: Benton Playbook Resources. Here, you can view all of the articles we and others have published about the Benton winners’ work and all of the external resources that were used in the creation of our Playbook.


Next Century Cities hopes that this Playbook and the accompanying resources will add to the digital civic discourse as cities seek innovative solutions to their communities’ problems, and be a resource for local government leaders and practitioners in the field.


Please find a recording of the launch event here.