Dane County Board Expands Ways to Weigh In on Issues

December 06, 2016
Board Chair Sharon Corrigan, 608.333.2285
County Board

The Dane County Board is expanding ways to weigh in on issues from parks to voter ID.


Via a partnership with Polco, a Madison-based crowd-sourcing startup, Dane County is seeking input on a variety of topics. The web-based polling service allows visitors to log in with their opinion, then tabulates the results.


“It’s not always easy to know what the public is thinking since often only the loudest voices are heard,” says Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan. “By using Polco we can let people offer their input to specific questions via their smart phones, computers or other devices.  The County Board is pleased to embrace this innovative approach to open the door to county government.”


The County Board signed on with the service in October and is now ramping up those efforts with more frequent questions and a higher-profile presence on its website. The idea is to use the feedback for help in making policy decisions and crafting legislation.


The current question posted at https://board.countyofdane.com/  asks “Did you know that Dane County has 12,000 acres of land in parks, natural resources areas, and county forests?”


The County Board site also asks, “What keeps you from visiting one or all of Dane County's Parks?”  These questions are posed to gauge awareness and use of County recreational opportunities.  Future questions will include topics such as criminal justice reform, social service needs, environmental concerns, and County finances.


Founded in 2015, Polco was created by veterans of military and public service from across the political spectrum. Its founders include technology professionals and academics who say they are dedicated to improving government and society “from the bottom up.”


“We’re really looking at this an opportunity for some meaningful feedback in putting together the budget or addressing issues that are important to Dane County residents,” adds Corrigan.


Polco not only collects the data but provides analysis and checks the veracity of users by cross-referencing with voter registration data.


The service went live nationally in June of this year and is already being used by a dozen municipalities in Wisconsin including Madison. It’s also used by several cities in Texas, including the capital in Austin.


In addition to signing up more clients, the company has gathered some major attention locally for its growth potential.  In August, Polco won the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce's "Pressure Chamber" pitch contest and an all-expenses-paid trip to Silicon Valley. It also won the "Peoples' Choice" award at the Wisconsin Innovation Awards earlier this year.

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