Hoplr helps local governments build towards social and caring smart cities: answers to 10 FAQ’s
Hoplr connects government and citizens: it all starts and ends with the community.
It’s our mission to connect citizen and government, as well as citizens among each other. Today, our social network is used by over 500,000 households in 2,000 neighbourhoods in collaborations with some 150 Belgian and Dutch municipalities. Local governments take the initiative to launch Hoplr in their region. In this article, you’ll learn more about this collaboration.
- What is Hoplr?
- Why would local governments work with Hoplr?
- What’s the societal value of Hoplr?
- What does a collaboration with Hoplr look like?
- What do local governments use the platform for most?
- Can local governments view conversations between citizens?
- Why wouldn’t local governments just use their existing channels?
- How much time does the platform take up?
- Which governments are working with Hoplr today?
- What have other governments said about Hoplr?
1. What is Hoplr?
First and foremost, Hoplr is a closed digital network, tailored to the neighbourhood.
When launched, inhabitants of the city, district,… receive a letter with a code in their mailbox. With this code, they gain access to their specific Hoplr-neighbourhood. These groups are similar to the social networks you already know. However, they are tailored specifically to the context of the neighbourhood. Another big difference: Hoplr is a European network that doesn’t sell data and is ad-free. Read all about the differences between Hoplr and Facebook, here.
With Hoplr, citizens can:
- get to know their neighbours better;
- exchange items with people nearby (give away, share, borrow,…);
- get help from people nearby (chores, babysit, information,…);
- share urgent matters quickly (suspicious circumstances, lost pets, traffic problems,…);
- organise activities (street parties, cleanups, jogging groups,…);
Within a month after the rollout of a city, a minimum of 10% of households (15% for rural areas) registers on Hoplr. Within a year, our communities organically grow up to a third of the region’s population.
You can find more info on Hoplr’s digital network for neighbours here.
The citizens become more aware of and engaged to the social capital of their neighbourhoods. As such, the desire for citizen information and participation grows. The Hoplr Service Dashboard allows you to communicate decision making, garbage collection, events, nuisance and other relevant information.
Hoplr doesn’t only offer local governments a dashboard to efficiently communicate with citizens, we’ve also made it easy for them to invest in neighbourhood care and citizen participation. Read all about our modules.
2. Why would local governments work with Hoplr?
Hoplr connects governments to their citizens. With Hoplr’s Service Dashboard, they can:
- communicate with citizens on a neighbourhood level;
- easily kick off citizen participation;
- gain insight and identify trends;
- facilitate community care;
- support local economy;
- integrate applications and datasets.
Take a look at our services page for more info on the functionalities of the platform.
3. What’s the societal value of Hoplr?
Social networks are sometimes called the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to be: antisocial, as they tend to isolate. We have to agree to some extent, though at the same time, we believe it doesn’t have to be this way. Hoplr connects people online, to bring them together offline.
- Positive online connections lower the threshold to meet each other offline.
- The network makes it easy for neighbours to ask for and offer help.
- The neighbourhood calendar actively invites citizens to come together.
- Contributions from local governments stimulate engagement and conversation.
- Community workers get access to multiple neighbourhoods.
- Citizen participation that starts with the community enhances inclusion.
- Hoplr’s local guide and map stimulates local buying.
Read about our vision and manifest: five promises we’ve made to our users.
4. What does a collaboration with Hoplr look like?
- Local governments contact us for a first meeting.
- If both parties are on board, the municipality can enroll in a yearly license. The licenses vary per module, which determines the functionalities of the Service Dashboard (communication, participation, insights, community service & care, local economy, integration).
- Next, it’s time for our team to get cracking. We draw up the different neighbourhoods of the region. These neighbourhoods are the combined result of your expertise on the community and our expertise on community building. This is a close collaboration.
- The official kickoff. Every household receives a Hoplr-invitation in their mailbox. This letter gives them a concise explanation of the network and what it’s for. Other than that, it gets the correct access code to them. With the code, citizens can easily and automatically subscribe to their correct neighbourhood.
- Often, local governments are able to give the initial conversion an additional boost. They may contact local press or organise events in which we are able to answer some questions about Hoplr. We promise a conversion of at least 10% to 15% of all households, a month after launching.
- Finally, we deliver the Service Dashboard. With it comes a detailed demonstration for anyone who’ll make use of the dashboard.
5. What do local governments use the platform for most?
Hoplr partners use the Service Dashboard to gain insight into twelve topics (environment, traffic, safety, nuisance, accessibility,…), to launch participation projects and surveys (bottom-up, top-down, environmental analysis), to stimulate social cohesion and to share messages with citizens. The messages are most often about:
- road works, garbage collection, measures (informing and raising awareness);
- events, competitions, initiatives, volunteering (announcements and invitations);
- asking about quality, polls, surveys, opinions, ideas (participation).
6. Can local governments view conversations between citizens?
We handle our users’ data with the greatest care. Consequently, Hoplr is completely conform GDPR. Moreover, a Hoplr-neighbourhood’s content is closed off to anyone who is not a part of it – including members of the local government (unless, of course, they happen to live in the neighbourhood).
Users of the Service Dashboard can however push messages into one, multiple or all neighbourhoods of their region. They can view all interaction on these specific messages, so they can (provided they wish to do so) interact with the citizens.
Finally, all data local governments receive through the platform are always aggregated and anonymised. For more information, please consult our terms and services.
7. Why wouldn’t local governments just use their existing channels?
Your own channels such as social media, websites and applications have the benefit of always being in full control. However, being able to count on a partner such as Hoplr, has a lot of useful benefits as well.
Reach and growth
We launch your region’s network from start to finish, with a guaranteed reach from 10 up to 15% of all households during the first weeks after launch. Neighbourhoods continue to grow organically.
We take care of reach, support and development. That doesn’t only translate into fewer costs and worries; it will save you time as well.
We offer one integrated Service Dashboard with modules for all different departments. This allows for more transparency and synergy in the workplace.
Hoplr has its own team of developers. That way, we can offer both rapid interventions, as well as custom work.
24/7 support & expertise
You can count on us for all community building, support and curation – 24/7. No fuss, no worries.
Community building is crucial for community care, inclusion and citizen participation. By bringing neighbours together, we can stimulate real life contact, involvement and cohesion.
8. How much time does the platform take up?
The Service Dashboard is all about unburdening local governments. Before the launch, several matters need to be agreed upon. After that, we take care of the execution. All additional effort coming from your side (press, events, other communication about the platform,…) is welcome.
How much time the platform takes up after that, depends on your goals. A garbage collector (also welcome on Hoplr) might not use the platform unless there’s a change in planning. Posting a message is very intuitive, so won’t take up much time.
Local governments usually prefer to communicate with the citizens in a more consistent manner. One post per week is ideal. Posting and follow up takes up half a day (4h) per week at the most.
Finally, local governments can launch their participation projects on Hoplr. In that case, planning and follow up would take up more time.
9. Which governments are working with Hoplr today?
- City of Mechelen
- Flemish Agency for Roads and Traffic
- IVAGO (intermunicipal Ghent)
- City of Hasselt
- Municipality of Bornem
- Municipality of Olen
- Project Noorderlijn (City of Antwerp)
- City of Bruges
- Municipality of Ranst
- Municipality of Sint-Katelijne-Waver
- City of Damme
- MIWA (intermunicipal company Mid-Waasland)
- Municipality of Oosterzele
- Municipality of Schilde
- Project developer Strabag
- Municipality of Laarne
- Municipality of Hove
- City of Sint-Niklaas
- Municipality of Dilbeek
- Municipality of Waterloo
- Water company Water-link
- City of Veurne
- Municipality of Haacht
- Municipality of Herselt
- City of Geraardsbergen
- Municipality of Boechout
- Municipality of Brasschaat
- Project developer Revive
- City of Gistel
- Municipality of Grobbendonk
- Many, many more!
10. What do other governments have to say about Hoplr?
Hoplr is a very useful platform. We are able to inform the citizens of Ghent and Destelbergen more easily when something changes in the garbage collection rounds. We’ve been putting it to good use the last couple of months, for instance when the heavy snowfall caused some changes in our rounds.Koen Van Caimere, head of information and communication IVAGO
It’s an interesting channel that allows us to efficiently communicate with the neighbourhoods specifically, whether it’s about roadworks, local initiatives, meetings,… And we can always count on positive replies to our messages.Dirk Mattheeuws, projectmanager participation Mechelen
The Hoplr initiative is an additional means to enhance social cohesion. Citizens use it to stay up to date with their neighbourhood, to organise activities, to receive alerts from the city, local authorities or fire department or just to chat with other citizens. Every user has to verify their address, which allows for certain social control. If Hoplr’s guidelines are not being followed – for example, a neighbour is not being respectful – Hoplr may intervene. To the city, it’s an interesting channel to communicate with citizens quickly and efficiently. About road works, local initiatives, meetings,… Hoplr guarantees privacy for all users. External partners can only spread messages that are relevant to the citizens.Katleen Den Roover – Alderman of Neighbourhoods and Town related matters, City of Mechelen
This system allows us to connect citizens digitally. On Hoplr, they can meet, exchange items, launch ideas and initiatives. We’re actually creating a virtual neighbourhood, an alternative way to make new contacts and fight isolation.Johan Vande Lanotte – Burgemeester van Stad Oostende
In a short period of time, many inhabitants have subscribed to their virtual neighbourhood. This goes to show there’s a need for a platform to enhance community feeling in the neighbourhoods. Before the launch of our community work, we were looking for a system to match citizens’ supply and demand. With Hoplr, this turned out to be achievable.Liesbeth Lathouwers, community worker Olen
Through Facebook and mail, citizens often feel like we’re up in an ivory tower somewhere. In reality, we’re here with them and we don’t like the noise or drillings either. On Hoplr, it seems that citizens know that we’re local and we get more credit for that. Hoplr is a positive platform. It is an added value to our communication strategy and it allows us to interact with otherwise hard to reach citizens, in a social and local manner.Jef Vercammen – Communication Noorderlijn