COURBANIZE AT A GLANCE about coUrbanize: digital community engagement

With traditional in-person meetings on hold for the foreseeable future, more municipalities and development teams are moving engagement completely online or adding a digital component to their outreach methods. We wanted to share more about who we are and how your team can use the coUrbanize platform for online community engagement. If you’d like to learn more and see our product in action, please request a demo

 

WHO WE ARE

coUrbanize is a technology platform that city planners and real estate developers use to better engage with communities. 

Our mission has always been to help project teams generate more inclusive feedback, have more productive conversations, and build stronger community support. Our team has continued to roll out new offerings to further advance our mission, help developers and planners reach underrepresented populations, and to make the community engagement process more inclusive. 

For community members, this means giving them the access they need to influence the decisions that will shape their neighborhoods for generations to come. 

coUrbanize has helped to capture essential community feedback and accelerate the timeline for hundreds of new developments. To date, city planners and real estate developers have used coUrbanize on 400+ projects to reach more community members, overcome NIMBYism, and build better projects faster. 

 

THE PROBLEMS WE’RE HELPING TO SOLVE

With coUrbanize, community engagement transcends traditional (and often emotionally-charged) community meetings, enabling developers and planners to better communicate “the facts” and engage neighbors who don’t have the time, patience, or confidence to voice their opinions during public meetings. 

Public meetings were designed to democratize the development process. However, the people who attend these meetings don’t reflect the majority of their neighborhoods. Data shows 95% of meeting participants are whiter, richer and older than the community. This is the NIMBY dynamic that is sparking many of the housing crises in metro areas across the country, and it costs the real estate industry billions of dollars every year. This process is inequitable and non-inclusive. 

Think about the single mom who’d love to tell a development team about the importance of open green space, but she doesn’t have childcare during the meeting time, or the neighbors who may not speak English as their native language but would directly benefit from planned development. These are the voices that go unheard during traditional meeting-based community engagement. 

In addition to lowering the barrier to participate in the development process by bringing engagement online, community members can share feedback with the project teams via SMS text messaging, as well as share feedback via voicemails that are automatically transcribed onto the platform. This eliminates the need for interest or computer access. The platform and SMS text messaging signs can be translated into whatever languages are needed in a given community. 

By engaging directly with community members and responding to their comments on the platform, developers can mitigate disinformation and provide a comprehensive picture of your project. 

 

WHAT YOU GET WITH COURBANIZE 

coUrbanize offers a number of features that help you activate your “silent supporters” by giving them different ways to share their feedback, questions, and concerns without having to attend a meeting. You’ll build a better project for the community – and face fewer delays along the way. We offer:

  • A Customizable Platform: Showcase the latest project information and plans on a flexible platform optimized for development + planning
  • Comment Moderation: Keep conversations constructive with a real name requirement, comment review and spam + profanity
  • Email & SMS Updates: Scale community outreach with email and text-message (SMS) updates automatically sent to project followers
  • Project Timeline: Track historical milestones and update the community about upcoming meetings, filings and expected key dates
  • Text & Voicemail Integration: Capture feedback from a broader representation of the community by empowering them to share comments via text and voicemail
  • Polling: Survey community members to get to know them better, understand their needs and to get feedback on project details
  • Curated Comment Topics: Gather opened-ended responses with customized comment topics including the ability to comment on image and video prompts
  • Letters of Support: Collect and share electronic letters of support from the community that can be easily added to public record
  • Private Feedback: Give local stakeholders a less intimidating vehicle to share feedback that is contrary to or different from popular opinion
  • Custom Tabs & Forms: Add pages to showcase FAQs or expand on community benefits. Use forms so community members can request a meeting
  • Interactive Maps: Enable community members to comment on specific intersections and areas of the community
  • Analytics & Reports: Get at-a-glance analysis of sentiment trends and outreach reports with project analytics and all comments

For a more comprehensive list of our features, please check out this overview of our product

SUCCESS STORIES

coUrbanize is well-suited for city planners and real estate teams that want to effectively execute an inclusive engagement strategy, build trust in the community in which they’re building, and communicate progress and updates to community stakeholders. To date, city planners and real estate developers have used coUrbanize on 400+ projects to reach more community members, overcome NIMBYism, and build better projects faster. 

Check out our work across the country: 

  • Cambridge, MA: In response to a call from the City Manager and in consultation with the City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA), Boston Properties (BXP) has proposed an alternative site for the proposed Eversource substation with accompanying commercial and residential development in the MXD district of Kendall Square.
  • Detroit, MI: How the City created its first Sustainability Action Agenda with an inclusive, equitable engagement strategy
  • Crystal City, VA: How hundreds of silent supporters won JBG SMITH unanimous approval for a future HQ2 site
  • Sherman Oaks, CA: By educating the community and dispelling myths, Mercy Housing built community support and gained fast approval for a 54-unit affordable housing development for seniors who have experienced homelessness.

To learn more about our features or how coUrbanize can help your team build a better project, request a demo.