City offers new tool, eComment, for remote public meeting input

BROOKINGS – The City of Brookings has been making City Council meetings accessible via live and archived webcasting for the past 10 years. Recently, the city has added a new feature to broaden civic involvement in its public meetings online.

Using a web-based application, citizens are able to view and submit their opinions on upcoming meeting agenda items from any computer or phone with an internet connection, instead of requiring them to attend the meeting in person to have their voices heard.

“This is a powerful extension of the council’s desire to make city government, the City Council, and our meetings as accessible as possible for the citizens. Citizens can comment on an agenda item prior and throughout the meeting from the comfort of their home, in order to let the council members know how they feel about a particular issue. Government doesn’t get any more responsive and interactive with its citizens than that,” City Clerk Bonnie Foster said. 

This new tool, called eComment, is provided by Granicus, Inc.. eComment integrates seamlessly with the city’s meeting webcasting on the city’s website. The product portfolio will help online audiences follow and participate in the latest decisions and actions in government from the convenience of their home, Granicus reported.

To utilize these new open government features, log onto prior to a meeting, locate the meeting agenda, and click on the eComment link next to the agenda. This takes users to a page where they can submit their opinions on legislation up for debate. They can then indicate their position on an item and add any additional comments related to that particular item or leave general comments for city staff. 

Comments can automatically be routed to staff and elected officials, giving the City Council members time to review and consider citizen input prior to, or even during a meeting. Users will be required to set up an account and finalize the account through an email verification process.

This new tool will also benefit administrative staff, helping them collect, consolidate and route citizen feedback through an automated process, Granicus reported.

“By providing an electronic way for citizens to speak at a public meeting, the city will be able to reach a broader segment of their community and hear feedback from more people,” said Michael Ashford, Granicus vice president of marketing and strategic partnerships. “This demonstrates a commitment to strengthening collaboration with citizens and makes the City of Brookings a true leader and innovator with civic technology.”