Digital engagement is one aspect or technique within the field of community engagement or public participation in government decision making. As such it sits with in participatory democracy frameworks that have already been developed in this field by organisations like the International Association for Public Participation (www.iap2.org.au); an association that has a thriving presence in Australia.
It has a set of seven core principles starting with “the public should have a say in decisions about actions that affect their lives.” The second is ” public participat includes the promise that the public’s contribution will influence the decision.” As such it behoves us to identify all stakeholders to a decision, some of whom will engage in the digital world and others for whom we need to seek out their involvement. It also requires us to work with the decision makers on the level of decision making power that they are willing to share with the public (in this case through using these digital channels).
IAP2 also has a spectrum of participation (very widely used that provides a basis for deciding on the level of engagement being undertaken in relation to any decision), a toolkit of many techniques and a certified training course, most importantly providing skills and expertise on how to plan for community engagement – whether it is online or face to face.