The city of Kyle has a new community engagement platform through ZenCity, which was contracted and funded when the 2023-23 budget was approved, and presented to City Council at a meeting Sept. 20.

ZenCity provides digital platforms for cities, counties, state and law enforcement agencies to receive community input and make decisions based on its residents' needs.

“They are one platform that really uses aggregated data ... about conversations that are happening about the city of Kyle as well as conversations happening with the city of Kyle and really gives us the ability to engage residents,” Director of Communications Rachel Sonnier said.

The city has contracted three different platforms under ZenCity: ZenCity Organic, ZenCity Community Ask and ZenCity Engage.

An Organic dashboard will be built by ZenCity data analysts that will collect data from news outlets, social media and more. The data will be specific to the city of Kyle regarding what is being said or discussed about the city.

“It gives us an idea of the conversations people are having about the city of Kyle, not necessarily conversations happening with the city of Kyle staff,” Sonnier said.

The Community Ask dashboard will give city staff the ability to send out polls to the residents of Kyle that can be targeted to certain topics and projects or can be more open ended.

“With the ZenCity Community Asks, we [will have] benchmarking reports,” Sonnier said. “Essentially, they are able to generate these reports for us that really gives us a great idea of conversations that are happening around the city that we’re not usually privy to.”

ZenCity Engage is the final dashboard contracted and it is akin to a virtual town hall.

“It’s a platform where there’s open public forum of debate, people can talk, you can host interactive data... it’s just a very diverse tool that we could use for all sorts of things,” Sonnier said.

The dashboard and platforms contracted through ZenCity will take the heavy-lifting off the shoulders of city staff and will have automated data available in real-time for staff and city leadership to review and utilize.