San Francisco-based Granicus is a cloud platform and suite of applications designed to boost transparency, efficiency, and citizen participation in government. The Granicus community engagement platform is called the Citizen Participation Suite, and it is comprised of two individual programs: CivicIdeas and eComment.
CivicIdeas is the program aimed at generating and sharing ideas among community members. Like many of the other platforms discussed here, CivicIdeas allows participants to post ideas and to vote, share and comment on the ideas of others. The use of crowd sourcing allows for the most relevant topics and biggest issues to rise to the top of the discussion. Administrators can also change the status of posted ideas, which allows for participants to follow the progress and evolution of their contribution. Users of CivicIdeas can promote the site through the fully integrated Facebook platform, or by placing widgets on other websites.
The other program that comprises the Citizen Participation Suite is eComment. This program integrates with Granicus’ online government meeting agenda and tracking platform, and allows for citizens to leave either written or video messages on specific agenda items. Developed as a method to help ease the barriers to participation in routine local government decision-making, eComment provides a way for citizens to voice their opinions without having to attend meetings in person. eComment also provides users with comprehensive reports of all the comments received.
The combination of two disparate participatory programs within the larger Citizen Participation Suite makes the Granicus platform unique. While more limited in scope and specific features than some of the other tools discussed, and although more oriented to routine public engagement around council or commission meetings, the Citizen Participation Suite can serve the diverse needs of local governments by offering two programs that seek to enhance and augment public participation in different ways.
The software is offered as an SaaS, which means that company engagement with the client following the purchase is relatively minimal. The largest firm by number of employees discussed within this paper, Granicus’s core business revolves around video streaming, archiving and document management for local governments and agencies. Granicus offers monthly subscription pricing, starting at $300 a month, with no startup fee. Pricing is flexible and dependent on the scope and needs of the organization, so the company asks potential clients to contact them to request a quote.