In Conversation With Ian McKinnon

Each month, PlaceSpeak presents a Q&A with experts in urbanism, public engagement, and civic technology.

This month, we spoke with Ian McKinnon, Chair of the National Statistics Council of Canada and former President of Decima Research. He has worked extensively with private and public sector clients to design and analyse survey research for both market research and policy issues, and has been a leading voice on the importance of reinstating Canada’s long-form census. Ian’s decades of experience in public opinion research and statistical analysis bring new perspectives to citizen engagement in the digital age.

Staff Spotlight: Hedi Rashidi

With over two years of experience in international urban planning, Hedi Rashidi joins the PlaceSpeak team as a Community Engagement Manager. Her interests include the transformation of cities resulting from urban planning/design, and the necessity of effective public engagement throughout the planning process.

“A lot of people are not necessarily anti-development. Often, they’re not adequately informed or don’t trust the process. If we can create a more transparent process where people are willing to be open-minded and hear each other out rather than just fighting, we can achieve the best possible results for our neighbourhoods.”

How Online Citizen Engagement Can Turn NIMBY Into YIMBY

NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) is a term used to characterize opposition by residents to nearby projects and developments (e.g. housing, infrastructure, energy, facilities for the disadvantaged, etc.) because of the perceived negative impact. As a result, NIMBYs are often viewed as selfish and/or ill-informed people who only care about their own interests.

On the other hand, people who challenge these projects claim that they are wrongly portrayed as NIMBYs in order to dismiss their concerns, such as decrease in property prices or public safety.

Regardless of which perspective you agree with, these behaviours can be disruptive and cause long-term delays in projects or developments. How can you turn NIMBY to YIMBY — “yes in my backyard”? Here are some ways that online tools can help minimize disruptions, ensure that a diversity of voices are being represented, and make the public engagement process smoother.

PlaceSpeak expands into California with first consultation in Encinitas

The City of Encinitas has become the first city in California to utilize PlaceSpeak, an award-winning location-based smart cities civic engagement platform, for consulting with residents and key stakeholders on an ongoing basis.

“We want to make sure that every person that wants to be heard can be heard and are pleased to have another method for listening to our residents and businesses,” said Karen Brust, city manager of the City of Encinitas. “PlaceSpeak is a simple platform that allows verified members of our community to reach us and provide much needed and valued input on the decisions that we make every day. Whether it’s a project that is close to completion or one that is just getting started, we’re looking forward to hearing what residents have to say, whenever they want to say it.”

PlaceSpeak Launches New Activity and Profile Pages

We’ve improved PlaceSpeak to better reflect how our users engage with their communities online.

By adding a new Activity Page and Profile Page, these new features make it easier for people to connect with decision-makers and with each other, in the spaces where they live, work, and play.