Electronic Town Meetings are community meetings that allow people to participate via digital technology. Whether virtual meetings with remote participants, or in-person meetings aided by technology, these meetings offer new ways of engaging people.
An Electronic Town Meeting (ETM) can be defined in two ways—
Actual town meetings have long been taped and replayed on local access television statements for citizens to watch, but new advances today can allow communities to broadcast meetings live on TV, radio, and the Internet, with options for citizens to vote online on important questions or call in with comments.
Digital and electronic technology for use in live meetings—may include keypad polling, wikis, and other web meeting technology.
Virtual ETM tools are typically used to engage citizens who cannot attend actual public meetings, often because the geographic region is very large or because the timing of meetings does not fit well with citizens’ schedules. Electronic tools for use in actual meetings serve a different purpose—primarily increasing the efficiency of data collection and ensuring that all voices are represented equally.