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Civic Engagement: Where Does America Rank?

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) just released an updated version of their Better Life Index. The annual report measures the well-being of societies on 11 different dimensions from Housing, Education, and the Environment to Life Satisfaction and Civic Engagement. Accela is interested and involved in most all areas of governing, but we're keenly focused on civic engagement. In fact our new mission can be summed up as bettering government through civic engagement.


Check out the Better Life Index here: http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org

There's a rather nifty interactive UI that lets you tailor your own index according to the topics you value most.

So how did the United States fair in 2013? When the 11 topics were weighted equally, Australia came out on top, with the U.S. near the head of the pack (6th out of the 34 nations included). The U.S. was #1 in both Housing and Income. In fact, if household income and financial wealth is what's most important, then the United States is definitely where you want to live. So what was our weakest area? It was in fact civic engagement, where we ranked 16th, behind nations such as Sweden, Korea, and Slovenia. The index defines civic engagement as 'your involvement in democracy' and weighs factors such as voter turnout and consultation on rule-making.

The report states that, "A cohesive society is one where citizens have a high degree of confidence in their governmental institutions and public administration. Across OECD countries, 56% of citizens say they trust their political institutions."

At Accela we're seeing a shift in the public's perception of what government's role is. With the advent and convergence of social, mobile, and cloud technologies, citizen expectations of government are on the rise. Whereas in the past, government's role was seen as primarily regulatory and focused on delivery of essential services, today citizens want to play a proactive role in shaping government processes and allocation of resources. I think there are more factors to consider when measuring the level of civic engagement in a community: an agency's social media footprint, ubiquity of online services, open data sources and number of apps available, and whether or not an agency has a dedicated innovation team and process in place.

Where does your city, town, or county fall in the civic engagement spectrum? What's your definition of civic engagement?

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