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Using Generative AI for Community Engagement - why and how

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of ChatGPT, MidJourney, or a slew of other cool new AI tools released in the past few months. All of these technologies are examples of “Generative AI,” which has grown in popularity like wildfire - ChatGPT was the fastest consumer technology to reach 1M users. 

But this popularity has a very good reason. This technology is super-powerful, and we’ve just begun scratching the surface of what it can do for us. In many ways, this is an “iPhone moment” - a moment where a new and powerful technology is about to change how we do many things.

While this is true for many areas of our lives, one of the most exciting ‘low-hanging fruits' for this “leapfrog” is government work, specifically, community engagement.GenAI has the potential to improve community engagement in ways we couldn't have imagined just a few years ago. And in this piece, I want to explore why - and what that could look like.

What is Generative AI?

 But first, we need to understand what generative AI is. Generative AI, or “GenAI” for short, refers to a class of advanced artificial intelligence models and technologies designed for natural language understanding and generation. GenAI models operate based on deep neural networks and are trained on vast datasets of human language. These models excel at tasks such as text generation, language translation, question-answering, and content creation.

These capabilities can help us do a lot in government, but they are especially well suited to help bridge the two key pains of community engagement: 1. Reaching only the “STPs” - the same ten people that always show up at every engagement opportunity, and 2—spending endless staff time and resources on creating engagements and analyzing the community input in them.

Practical uses of AI

Here are 5 practical ways this technology can supercharge your community engagement right now:

1. Create Content
One of the key ways GenAI can improve community engagement is through content creation. Imagine you're part of a community organization, and you want to announce an important event or development. GenAI can be your trusty assistant in crafting compelling press releases and engaging social media posts. It ensures that your message is informative and captures your audience's attention, making them more likely to participate in your community's activities.

2. Translate to create more inclusive engagement
In a globalized world, communities often consist of members from diverse linguistic backgrounds. GenAI-powered translation tools can break down language barriers, ensuring that all community members can participate fully in discussions and activities. This promotes inclusivity and diversity within the community.

3. Analyze and Understand Trends
GenAI can analyze and quantify information, helping community leaders understand trends and patterns within their community. Particularly, it excels at clustering open-ended text data, such as survey responses or discussion forum threads. Community leaders can gain insights into what matters most to their members by identifying common themes and sentiments. This understanding allows for more targeted engagement efforts and the development of initiatives that align with community interests.

4. Set Up Online Engagement Websites
GenAI can streamline the process of setting up online engagement websites or platforms for your community. Whether you're launching a new forum, a dedicated website for events, or a community blog, GenAI can assist in designing and populating these platforms efficiently. This makes it easier for community members to access information, connect with each other, and engage with your organization online.

5. Create Summaries and Reports
GenAI isn't just about collecting data; it's also adept at creating summaries and reports to share the findings with your community. By automating the generation of reports, you can inform your community members about key developments, trends, and insights. This transparent approach fosters trust and engagement, as members are informed about the community's progress and future plans.


GenAI is not just a technological innovation; it's a powerful tool for enhancing community engagement. By creating compelling content, breaking down language barriers, analyzing open-ended text data, setting up online engagement platforms, and generating informative reports, GenAI empowers community leaders and members to connect, communicate, and collaborate more effectively. As we continue to harness the capabilities of AI, GenAI promises to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of community engagement. Embrace this technology, and watch your community thrive.

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