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Public Consultation

How PlaceSpeak Aligns with IAP2 Values

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The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) is the preeminent international organization advancing the practice of public participation. Its members seek to promote and improve the practice of public participation throughout the world which is why the PlaceSpeak team participates in IAP2 training courses and why we make sure to attend the IAP2 conference every year!

It is also for this reason that PlaceSpeak’s platform architecture was designed to reflect the IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation:

Inform > Consult > Involve > Collaborate > Empower

This fundamental consideration provides the context for PlaceSpeak’s mission to enable legitimate online consultation by authenticating digital identity to place, protecting individual privacy, and closing the feedback loop between public consultation and accountability. Here we look at exactly how PlaceSpeak’s design reflects the IAP2 spectrum and enables improved online public participation for organizations and citizens around the world.

iap2

Inform

To provide the public with balanced and objective information to assist them in understanding the problem, alternatives, opportunities and/or solutions.

One of IAP2’s core values is “Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.” When PlaceSpeak users sign up, they must authenticate their identity and location, and select the geographical boundary (e.g. 10 km within their home) and topics that they are interested in (e.g. transit, land-use developments).This ensures that users are notified of nearby consultation topics which are relevant and will affect them directly.

PlaceSpeak encourages organizations that are running consultations to make full use of the “Resources” section where links, documents, diagrams, photos and more can be uploaded to provide context around the consultation topic. For example, in order to fully bring residents of Hamilton, Ontario into the public input process, the Hamilton Citizens Jury on Transit even included a livestream to their light rail transit (LRT) speaker series on the PlaceSpeak page.

Consult

To obtain public feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or decisions.

With a whole host of features including polls, surveys, discussion boards, interactive mapping, and more, PlaceSpeak provides a wide range of options for organizations to obtain feedback from the public. By providing legitimate and authenticated data and survey responses, PlaceSpeak supports organizations in making evidence-based decisions.

Involve

To work directly with the public throughout the process to ensure that public concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and considered.

PlaceSpeak makes it easy for residents to get involved with local issues and consultations. Users are automatically notified of nearby consultation topics based on the location and topic settings that they had chosen when they signed up.

On PlaceSpeak, organizations are encouraged to actively respond to discussion comments and answer questions throughout the consultation process. As PlaceSpeak users are authenticated to place, organizations are able to identify geographical trends and ensure that the public’s concerns are understood and considered. For example, a consultation conducted by City Hall may show that people living in the suburbs are more strongly opposed to a new public transit route than people living in the downtown core. The city is then able to hone in on areas of opposition and learn more about residents’ concerns, thus developing alternatives and modifying their proposal in order to gain more widespread support.

PlaceSpeak also encourages “closing the loop” at the end of the consultation process by reporting back to the public about how their feedback influenced or impacted the decision and outcome.

Collaborate

To partner with the public in each aspect of the decision including the development of alternatives and the identification of the preferred solution.

Organizations can use PlaceSpeak to crowdsource feedback (using the discussion board) and vote (using the survey or poll feature) on each decision throughout the consultation process. By modifying the above example from “Involve” slightly, organizations can use PlaceSpeak features to “Collaborate”.

As PlaceSpeak users are authenticated to place, organizations are able to identify geographical trends and work directly with the public to formulate alternatives. For example, a consultation conducted by City Hall may show that people living in the suburbs are more strongly opposed to a new public transit route than people living in the downtown core. The city is then able to hone in on areas of opposition and learn more about residents’ concerns, partnering with the community using features such as Place It interactive mapping to develop alternatives and implement a preferred solution.

Empower

To place final decision-making in the hands of the public.

Rarely do organizations choose to delegate final decision-making to a group of stakeholders or participants. However, PlaceSpeak’s Seed Topics is trying to challenge that.

In several cities around the world, PlaceSpeak pulls municipal open data on land-use change applications and turns them into seed topics. If 25 PlaceSpeak users indicate their interest in the topic, an email is sent to the appropriate city official alerting them of the fact that residents are interested in that particular issue. The city can then choose whether to turn the seed topic into a formal consultation topic. Even if PlaceSpeak is unable to place final decision-making in the hands of the public, it empowers citizens to collectively push to be heard on issues that matter to them.

IAP2’s Core Values for the Practice of Public Participation

  • Public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.
  • Public participation includes the promise that the public’s contribution will influence the decision.
  • Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers.
  • Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.
  • Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.
  • Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.
  • Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.

If you found this post interesting and useful, we’d appreciate if you would share and subscribe to our blog.

To get started with your online public consultation, visit placespeak.com.

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Mary Leong

Mary is the Communications Manager at PlaceSpeak. She was attracted to PlaceSpeak’s innovative approach in using verifiable, location-based technology for citizen engagement and hyperlocal governance. In her spare time, Mary enjoys dog videos set to ’90s hip-hop.

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