Here is a brief write-up of the presentation that appears in the Summer 2012 edition of Planning West, The PIBC’s quarterly news magazine:
PlaceSpeak: Claim Your Place, Speak Your Mind
by Siobhan Murphy, MCIP, RPP
How to reach people online where they live?
This session outlined the new PlaceSpeak tool, which is an online public consultation tool that is having a great deal of uptake in a number of communities across BC and in other parts of Canada. Colleen Hardwick, the Founder and CEO, who also has a background in Urban Geography and sat on the City of Vancouver’s Development Permit Board, presented the architecture of this tool. Hardwick maintains that the public consultation process is fraught with challenges, that it is difficult retaining public trust over a planning process, ensuring that people are heard, and that everyone has an opportunity for input.
Recognizing that often it is the dissenters that attend public meetings, and that the rest of the constituency often don’t attend because they don’t have time, or they don’t want to put forward an opposing opinion in public; an online tool such as PlaceSpeak can add meaningful responses from many more community residents.
PlaceSpeak has been designed to authenticate people to the place where they live, based on their individual Internet Protocol (IP) address on their computer. Also, it has the anonymity of being online, so that people can express their opinion without fear of reprisal. So people are authenticated to the place where
they live, but PlaceSpeak also respects privacy laws, which is a significant concern.
The other component of PlaceSpeak is that it provides a reward. But it’s not money or things. Data suggests that people can be rewarded non-monetarily, with stars or icons. This practice is linked to ’gamifcation’ theory and behavioral psychology: people like to be rewarded for input, but they don’t need money, they need recognition. Place Speak recently worked with the City of New Westminster on consultation for the City’s New Westminster Transportation Plan. The response rate was far greater online than those that completed surveys at the open houses.
Look for a more in-depth article on PlaceSpeak in the Fall issue of Planning West.