Residents of remote communities are often isolated from broader populations, and this can lead to them feeling under-represented on matters that affect them in the development of community-based projects. However, organisations that operate projects in more remote regions are increasingly starting to acknowledge the importance of engaging with members of remote communities via online channels.
By exploiting online communication methods, organisations give remote communities a chance to engage with a project without incurring the travel expenses and time lag associated with organising traditional community meetings. Online engagement channels also provide members of remote communities who cannot attend meetings with an opportunity to have their say and, through doing so, ensures that a broader audience is involved in consultation activities.
Furthermore, unlike a traditional community forum, local participants can maintain their anonymity should they wish. This can be particularly attractive to members of smaller remote communities who hold an opinion that is not in line with that of the larger group. As such, online engagement channels can help less assertive community members to become involved.
Organisations that seek to secure community engagement in remote regional communities will also stand to benefit from taking an online approach because they will be able to access more people and, as such, will generate more data from which they can draw meaningful insights. This will help businesses to make decisions based on solid information as opposed to assumptions.
Many of the people who live in isolated communities can be particularly passionate about the areas in which they live and keen to be involved in any development plans. By creating a transparent online engagement process, organisations can help to foster trust and encourage community members to have some degree of ownership within the project planning process.