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Voices. Knowledge. Solutions.

​Public Meeting Engagement Portal 

First occupied as City Hall in 1818, Charleston’s city hall has the second-oldest council chambers in continuous use in the nation. Although historic, the facility did not have enough space to facilitate to social distancing during the pandemic, limiting the capacity for public participation. The city needed to continue its meetings while still adhering to its ordinances, which require public participation, and promoting safety and transparency.  
After a period of setting up virtual meetings manually, the Mayor’s Office of Innovation launched its own Public Meeting Engagement Portal. Through this system, residents can sign up to speak at meetings or submit comments on agenda items. The portal also allows city staff to create and manage meetings, and download speaker lists and comments in various formats.  
After 17 months of virtual sessions, meetings returned to in-person formats. Even so, use of the portal has continued, providing a convenient way for residents to participate in public meetings without traveling to City Hall. The portal has expanded to serve 18 committees and commissions.  
The portal enhanced public engagement as well. In 2019, before the portal’s development, Charleston City Council received 319 comments in person and by phone. From April 2020 to February 2022, council received 2,810 engagements.  
Developed entirely with existing city resources, the portal receives continuous refinements. Planned enhancements include the ability for staff to create or modify meeting templates, IP address mapping to determine the approximate locations that comments come from and options for limiting the number of submissions from an IP address. The city plans to share this platform for other cities to adopt.  
Contact Tracy McKee at