Public Meetings are Failing The Public

Reliability of input gathered from public meetings is affected by limited attendance and biased representation.

AlphaVu gives you an accurate, real-time view of public opinion by analyzing a variety of online and offline data sources.

Community officials hear from their constituents through many different channels, though few are as time and energy consuming as public meetings. Recently a public official from the City of Ventura wrote an opinion article for Western City about her experience with hate speech at a remote public meeting*. She rightfully makes the point that public meetings are a necessary and important outlet for the right of citizens to redress their grievances. Her story also highlights the declining utility of public meetings as the primary source of public input on the local level.

Across the board, AlphaVu’s clients have reported that public meetings are becoming less representative of public opinion.

Local public meetings present several challenges that can impede a comprehensive understanding of public sentiment:

Limited Attendance

Public meetings, even virtual ones, often suffer from low attendance, making it difficult to accurately gauge the sentiments of a diverse population.

Biased Representation

Those who attend meetings may not always represent the broader community, potentially leading to skewed input and perspectives.

Time Constraints

Meetings are typically confined to a few hours, leaving little room for in-depth discussions on complex issues.

Is Your Bad Reputation REAL or a MIRAGE?

AlphaVu map graphics for WMATA sentiment

In one example from Washington, D.C., AlphaVu found that a few loud voices were dominating the conversation about WMATA. 

Using publicly available social media data, we looked at WMATA’s comments in every city council district over a 6-month period. 

Based on total comments alone, WMATA’s reputation looked negative. But when you remove the top 1% most frequent commenters, the different is shocking. The sentiment towards WMATA is positive in all but one city council district.

See the Full Picture with AlphaVu’s Community Sentiment Analysis

Constituents provide input in a variety of channels – phone calls, emails, social media, web forms, public meetings, etc. Rigorous measurement is needed to translate all that input into an accurate picture of how their community actually feels on a given issue.

AlphaVu uses advanced, AI-driven sentiment scoring to show support or opposition by specific topics.

How it works

  • Every recorded statement across all your data sources is scored by our sentiment scoring model.
  • Sentiment scoring is combined with topic coding. 
  • Each score is charted to show support or opposition on a specific topic. 
  • Because each comment is tagged, reports can be segmented by channel, by day, and by geography, allowing elected officials to see what’s going on in their districts.
  • All this data can be graphed over time so you can see trends.

AlphaVu Measures More Channels

Public Meetings, Emails, Web Forms, Phone Calls, and Social Media Channels Icons and Graphics

Showing data by channels gives agencies and elected officials a broader, more reliable cross section of public input that updates continuously. AlphaVu gives an average sentiment for each of these channels for the given time period. Clients can track public sources such as social media or private databases like your call center’s CRM.

AlphaVu can report on particular topics by zip code. Local officials use this view to understand how public input on any topic varies across diverse cities.

By unifying all public input channels and embracing advanced sentiment and topic scoring capabilities, you will bridge the gap between decision-makers and the public, strengthen trust and transparency, and work toward a brighter future for your community. 

It’s time to explore beyond public meetings to more advanced community engagement and better methods to measure the results.

*Source –

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