Three Ways To Transform Age-Old Town Hall Meetings


The common refrain from many citizens, from large metropolises to small rural farming communities, is that government leaders do not really know what is going on “in the trenches.” Of course, it is virtually every government’s mandate to serve their constituents – the folks in the trenches.

Town hall meetings are an age-old concept used in both government and business settings – traditionally serving as an informal public meeting that gives the members of a community an opportunity to discuss emerging issues as well as voice concerns or preferences.

It is no secret, however, that society has embraced the idea of being “always connected.” The proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and social media has created the expectation that information be immediately available wherever and whenever citizens choose. Many local governments have been struggling to keep up with the technology many of us take for granted today, including email, social media, paper-based feedback forms, or phone calls. Government employees are then faced with the difficult task of collecting this information and storing it all in one place so they can take action and meet the needs of their constituents quickly.

What if you could connect the dots among all these different mediums and provide a simple experience that allows you to communicate with all constituents no matter where they are?

Microsoft and AvePoint’s work with the City of Newton, located just seven miles west of downtown Boston, paves the way for integrating technology into one of the first forms of interaction between governments and their constituents – the town hall meeting. Through the implementation of Microsoft cloud technology, including Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and Parature (customer service SaaS provider acquired by Microsoft in 2014), working in tandem with AvePoint Podium, the city’s town hall meetings:

  • Gather citizen sentiment. The City of Newton was able to capture questions and feedback leading up to and during the town hall session, whether people were able to attend in person or virtually through its public town hall portal.
  • Evaluate citizen needs. The mayor of Newton and his team were able to review and evaluate questions before and during the town hall session, so they could provide more relevant, targeted feedback.
  • Improve engagement with the citizens. AvePoint Podium delivered a public town hall portal to those watching at home. This way, citizens could watch the meeting live, ask questions, see other questions and responses coming in from others in real-time, and view past recordings of town hall sessions from one portal.
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With AvePoint Podium, the City of Newton is able to reach more citizens, foster more engagement throughout the meeting process, and increase government transparency. Local and state governments can take this prime example of technology implementation to help create the modern cities their citizens need. For more information on AvePoint Podium, please visit the AvePoint website.


This feature is adopted from Microsoft CityNext.


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