At the beginning of this year, the brand-new board of Boechout presented its new policy note to the city council. At least, a first version. The municipality gave its residents the opportunity to help shape the final policy note on the basis of 10 statements.
Hoplr is community-driven and stimulates citizen engagement, making the online neighborhood network an ideal platform for citizen participation. As a result, this first participation trajectory was a great success to say the least. 1,044 households (80% of Hoplr users in Boechout) followed the campaign. This not only yielded 40,000 views, but also more than 1,800 votes and 300 responses.
The project ended on March 18, with an offline citizen participation moment: ‘De Toekomsttafels’. Registrations were terminated early, as the interest, unexpectedly but quickly, exceeded the capacity of the event. Over 160 inhabitants registered.
Boechout strengthens social cohesion with Hoplr
One thing is certain: Hoplr is trending topic among Boechout citizens! Some figures since the start-up of Hoplr in Boechout a year ago:
- 34.5% of Boechout households are registered
- (UPDATE: in 2020, Boechout surpassed 50%)
- 1,879 neighbourhood messages and 8,683 responses
- 131 meetings (activities, circular economy) between neighbours
The board of Boechout has had a big impact on those numbers. For example, the municipality mentions Hoplr in its brochures and on the website, wrote to local press several times and consistently uses the Service Dashboard. With the dashboard, the municipality keeps citizens informed of road works, local activities and other neighbourhood-oriented updates.
Boechout uses Hoplr as a tool for citizen participation
Digital platforms enable citizens to get involved in policy making, by means of surveys, participation projects and posting ideas bottom-up. But digital participation alone is not enough. Hoplr stimulates physical encounters too, which is detrimental for inclusive citizen participation.
Hoplr has a tangible impact on social cohesion and engagement in neighborhoods, making it an ideal platform for citizen participation.
For the digital aspect of this citizen participation project, the local government of Boechout distilled 10 statements or spearheads of the policy note. The topics varied from environment and mobility to social policy.
Every two days, the municipality posted a statement in the feed of the Hoplr neighbourhoods. Registered citizens were then able to rate these statements from one to ten. In the comment section, there was room for argumentation, ideas and constructive discussion. A devoted project page collected all messages about the participatory process, which citizens could consult at any time.
High participation rate thanks to engagement
After thirty days, the statements were viewed 40,709 times, resulting in 1,885 votes and 313 comments across the 10 statements. From those comments, Boechout can draw many interesting suggestions, on top of the results of the votes. An open question concluded the digital trajectory: ‘What suggestions do you have for the municipality?’ This last post resulted in 36 suggestions and ideas from citizens.
Hoplr generated 40,709 views in 1,044 households in 30 days, resulting in 1,885 votes and 313 responses to 10 statements – a huge success.
By the end of the project, 25% of the Hoplr users in Boechout had actively contributed to the policy note.
In the comment section of both the 10 statements and the open question, the neighbours always remained very constructive and respectful. Hoplr builds local communities based on engagement, involvement and community feeling. The local government was very pleased with these results.
Offline participation event ‘Toekomst tafels’ fully booked
Partly because of that strong engagement on Hoplr, the municipality saw an unprecedented turnout at the offline participation event. More than 160 citizens registered, although there was only room for 140 attendees.
Bringing communities together online has a positive effect on physical encounters. As such, the online dialogue on Hoplr contributed to a full offline participation event.
Those present were surprised by the extent to which they were all on the same page and had the same goals in mind for their municipality.