With several hundred community clients and a growing staff, MindMixer is perhaps the most widely-used and most well-known public participation tool for local community initiatives in the US at this time.
Founded on the idea that public participation should be facilitated in a more effective and efficient manner than it has been traditionally, the platform allows participants to share their ideas on city policy and development-related topics; give feedback; and comment on or “second” other’s ideas, thus promoting the most popular ideas to the top of the list. MindMixer pages are meant to not only facilitate participation, but actively encourage users by through graphic interfaces and game theory elements to making the experience engaging and rewarding. Accordingly, high quality graphic design and graphic layout are trademarks of MindMixer sites, as the platform prioritizes aesthetics and the user experience.
City officials or project managers are responsible for maintaining, editing, and updating information and content through the Client Management Dashboard. Unlike some of the Software as Service (SaaS) providers discussed elsewhere in this paper, MindMixer maintains a relatively high level of company engagement with client communities, providing regular training and client management interaction and development and distribution of weekly email updates to participants. While the MindMixer platform functions primarily through the system of idea generation, seconding, and responding to the ideas of others, newer features such as survey capabilities and photo sharing have been recently added
MindMixer was developed by urban planners and designers for the purpose of improving the public participation experience around long-range and relatively large-scale planning efforts, such as comprehensive plans, transportation systems planning and the like (some MindMixers do serve other purposes, such as one that supports a U.S. Representative).
Because of the high level of support that MindMixer provides to clients, MindMixer tends to represent a somewhat more costly approach as compared to SaaS-type providers, but the quality and best practices incorporation that MindMixer’s approach enables results in a powerful and easy-to-use tool that can be quickly and professionally implemented with minimal local government staff technical capability. Costs generally range from $10,000 to $20,000 for standard approaches.