Between the COVID-19 pandemic and last year’s civil unrest, cities across the US are at a unique crossroads. As we transition to the post-pandemic future, now is the time for cities to reconnect with citizens and bring people together to rebuild their local communities.
Over the past year, cities have taken incredible steps to keep their communities safe and maintain a sense of connection – even when the safest thing was to stay home and stay apart. This was compounded by calls for racial and social justice that echoed across the Country. Many cities have risen to this challenge by doing the hard work of listening to residents, taking a critical look at their safety system, and putting systems in place that prioritize equity over enforcement.
As cities continue the important work of bringing people together and building better, stronger, more equitable sytsems, storytelling can be a great tool to help local government leaders communicate with their residents about a variety of topics.
The City of Lansing, Michigan, for example, released a series of videos that help residents, visitors, and investors understand the breadth and depth of services they offer, in addition to the incredible attractions and organizations in the Lansing area.
Lansing is the quaint and vibrant capital of Michigan that boasts beautiful historic buildings, parks, gardens, and no shortage of museums, restaurants, and things to do. CGI Communications created an eight-part video tour highlighting all of the things that contribute to the quality of life in Lansing, including a 1:30-long video about the city’s public safety sector.
In the video, we meet Lansing’s Police Chief and hear about the Citizen Police Academy, a program that engages and educates community members on how the police work to mitigate crime. We then meet Lansing’s Fire Chief and discover the various ways the fire department teaches the community about CPR, fire safety, and disaster preparedness.
(You can find the video right on the city’s website, along with other videos that explore what makes Lansing a great place to live.)
But the City of Lansing could have very well-promoted their public safety sector in a brochure, a news article, or a radio broadcast. What makes their video content about public safety so significant to all other forms of communication?
Unlike standalone text or audio, video brings life to the stories we want to tell, conveying real-life, human interaction and providing a deeper and more personal experience for the viewer. These videos can be an important part of a broader community engagement strategy, allowing users a digital front door to learn more about their local government departments. By offering videos with captions and available in multiple languages, cities can also ensure equitable access to information.
In the case of Lansing, MI’s video tour, viewers gain access to the individuals spearheading public safety in their community and are able to put faces to the names of those protecting them, and most importantly, learn about the public safety programs in place to maintain their quality of life.
In times where physical contact is limited, it’s more important than ever to find ways to connect with each other. Video has the potential to shine a much-needed light on the organizations and individuals who help to maintain a high quality of life in the community.
Many cities across the Country are taking a comprehensive view of public safety – creating alternative response programs and other non-police interventions that prioritize safety over enforcement. All first responders, essential workers, and healthcare personnel help us ‒ and by spreading awareness about what they do, celebrating who they are, and building the trust they rely on, we can make their jobs a little easier and all the more worthwhile.