Technology gives the public the ability to comment from the same platform as the planners, thus greatly increasing the likelihood that the comments themselves will be salient, that the planners will be able to act on the comments, and that the system (decision-maker and agency) will have a positive reinforcing loop. For instance, if planners are using GIS, then commenters should be able to use GIS in similar ways. Instead of agencies using a tacit (and invisible) decision framework and asking the commenter to guess at the underlying logic of a decision—and planners to guess at the commenters’ guesses—make the decision framework explicit and give the commenters access to that.
When the agency designs their decision-making process, make it conducive to collaboration* by building outreach and planning upon the same foundation rather than treating outreach as an add-on.
*If collaboration is a goal