Australian-based Bang the Table is a company that offers online services to engage stakeholders in collaborative learning, discussion, and debate. The company believes that use of the internet to compliment face to face engagement processes is the key to generating increased levels of public engagement and attracting a diverse and holistic array of feedback, which in turn allows leaders to more accurately assess community sentiment. To facilitate such online engagement, Bang the Table offers EngagementHQ. Featuring an array of customizable tools for gathering input, sharing information, and analyzing data, EngagementHQ allows users to tailor the site for their specific needs, as well as a budget similation tool called BudgetAllocator.
Smart Forums are described as “the heart of EngagementHQ,” and the place where participants can post ideas for discussion and comment on the ideas of others. Users can choose to click either “agree” or “disagree” buttons on any post- a feature that encourages participation from individuals who are unwilling or unable to comment. All content in the ‘Smart Forums’ is moderated, and comments can be tagged and categorized by the site manager. In addition to the Smart Forums, EngagementHQ offers a guestbook where users can post comments without generating dialogue, as well as a Q&A tool which provides users an outlet to ask questions to the elected official or site manager. The site manager can then choose whether to answer the individual directly via email, or post the answer publicly in the Q&A tab. Surveys and quick polls are also supported by the EngagementHQ platform, as well as a multi media story telling tool and a mapping tool for spatial engagement. Participants who sign up go into an email list and the platform’s newsletter and notification capacity allows them to be updated and informed about new opportunities to engage. Importantly, Bang the Table makes no claim on user details or information – what is collected is up to the client and belongs to the clients.
EngagementHQ also offers dedicated blog space for clients and allows for site managers to store, organize, and share relevant project files in an on-site document library. Calendar and frequently asked questions widgets can also be embedded in the site. Users can share information and posts from the EngagementHQ site through social media platforms and email.
The platform also includes an API, which allows it to be linked to other tools and platforms. Existing integrations include Consultation Manager, StakeTracker and Campaign Monitor.
EngagementHQ allows clients to get a better sense of how many people are engaging via the site through the quantitative reporting that the platform offers. Site managers can see an overview of activity of the site at large, or at the individual page level. The demographic information required when signing up allows for site managers to evaluate who their main online stakeholders are, and what demographics are the most interested in the project. Additional services offered by EngagementHQ include best practice advice from the Bang the Table team. The basic version of the site can be up and running in as little as a week. EngagementHQ has been used for over 200 projects representing 60 clients, with costs depending on the complexity and scope of the project.