The community should be able to interact with the City easily and their voices should be heard when they want a way to change. Read more about specific actions we took in 2018 to improve our community engagement strategies.

Fiscal Advisory Committee Public Engagement
Snow Safety Summit
Snow Safety Web Page
Common Council Streaming
Columbus Dialogue Circles
Innovation Team Priority Area
Community Ideation Sessions
Citywide Summer Book Club
Evicted Discussion
Body-Worn Camera Community Engagement
DataCuse Expansion
Smoke Alarm Blitz
Fire Department Community Outreach
Social Media Engagement

ACTIONS

Fiscal Advisory Committee Public Engagement
In September 2018, the Public Engagement Committee of the mayor’s Fiscal Advisory Committee hosted Matthew Leighninger, an expert in public engagement, to discuss the role residents and groups can play in making budget decisions, including the path toward participatory budgeting, a process that gives citizens a direct voice in city spending.

Leighninger leads Public Agenda’s work in engagement and democratic governance. Over the last 20 years, he has worked with public participation efforts in over 100 communities in 40 states and four Canadian provinces to engage people in government and enable taxpayers to work with government to make budget decisions that affect their lives.

Snow Safety Summit
In February 2018, the City’s Innovation Team hosted a “Snow Safety Summit” to gain additional input and ideas from city residents about the City’s snow removal operations. The event helped the city identify the best and most effective approaches to clearing sidewalks.

Snow Safety Web Page
The City launched a new snow safety web page to provide information about how the City prepares for and responds to snow events, how to track and report snow clearance on streets and sidewalks, and responsibilities of city residents during snow events. It is located on the City’s website under the “Living” tab.

The web page includes a map that provides near real-time updates on plow locations and progress; guidance on how and where residents can report concerns; and information about the City’s snow removal operations, parking enforcement, and sidewalk snow clearance ordinances. The City also continued its “Snow Issues Tracker,” an online tool that allows residents to report un-shoveled sidewalks and illegally parked cars.

Common Council Streaming
The City began streaming meetings held in the Council Chambers, including Common Council, Board of Zoning Appeals, and Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) meetings, online via the city’s YouTube account. The meetings are recorded and posted to the city’s YouTube channel within 48 hours after the conclusion of each meeting. Closed captioning is provided with the recorded video.

This initiative was made possible through the work of the Common Council over the last several years, state support arranged by former New York State Senator David Valesky, and a partnership with WCNY. SIDA pays for the cost of its meetings.

Columbus Dialogue Circles
InterFaith Works, the Syracuse nonprofit that helps organizations and individuals work through constructive engagement on difficult issues, partnered with Mayor Walsh to conduct “dialogue circles” on Columbus commemoration in the community. The program began following Columbus Day in 2018 and will continue into the spring of 2019, with a goal of informing collaborative community solutions.

Innovation Team Priority Area
The Innovation Team made use of public engagement and input throughout their innovation process, from allowing the public to vote for their next priority area, to performing resident interviews and engagement workshops to inform their work and identify solutions. Additionally, through the Evicted book club and policy discussion, and the Healthy Housing 101 event, the Office of API has worked to get the public and community organizations directly involved in their housing stability initiatives.

Body-Worn Camera Community Engagement
The city of Syracuse held two public information meetings on the expanded implementation of body-worn cameras . The meetings featured a presentation on body-worn camera technology and on the department’s body cam policy, including: when and how the cameras are used; how members of the public know when a camera is operating; and how the large amounts of data and video footage are retained.  The meetings also included a demonstration of the technology.

DataCuse Expansion
In 2018, the City expanded its open data program with information in four new areas: operating spending, capital project spending, procurement, and fiscal year 2019 proposed budget. The information is available on DataCuse, the city’s online portal for open data about the city of Syracuse.

DataCuse launched in July 2017 in an effort to share data that the City of Syracuse creates and collects with the public. Since its launch, data about housing, infrastructure, snow plow routes, and neighborhoods has been shared and used neighborhood groups, community organizations, and higher education institutions. The city’s Office of Accountability Performance and Innovation manages the program.

Smoke Alarm Blitz
In August 2018, with the help of the Innovation Team, the Fire Department staged a Smoke Alarm Block Blitz using data to target 1 and 2 family homes that, more likely than not, had no smoke alarms. Between Aug. 1 and Nov. 1, 2018, the Fire Department surveyed over 500 homes and installed over 1,000 smoke alarms.

Fire Department Community Outreach
In 2018, the Fire Department responded to every request from the community to engage with SFD personnel, totaling 194 events attended. The department taught fire education, prevention, and safety, as well as highlighted their drone program. In addition, twenty-three schools visited Syracuse fire stations.

Fire Department Open House
In addition, on Oct. 13, 2018, during National Fire Prevention Week, the Fire Department held the 2nd annual Fire Station Open House at Fire Station 10 on East Genesee St in the City’s Eastside. Approximately 250 citizens attended and participated in fire prevention educational workshops. Five households signed up for smoke detector installations at this event.     

Social Media Engagement
Throughout 2018, the City has seen a 20 percent increase in Twitter followers and a 50 percent increase in Facebook followers; standardized communications on LinkedIn and Google; and curated content that is valuable to Syracuse residents and stakeholders across its platforms.