PlaceSpeak and Contaminated Sites
This article was originally posted on the British Columbia Environment Industry Association website on June 4, 2013.
Authenticating online consultation: A new model for community and stakeholder engagement in contaminated sites redevelopment
by Aimée Brisebois—Special to the BCEIA
Environmental resource practitioners, particularly in the contaminated sites field and in brownfield redevelopment, must manage varying perspectives on projects from different stakeholders and the public. A robust and genuine public information or consultation program is an important mechanism to determine the most publicly acceptable strategies and implementation. The way public consultation processes are conducted can have a significant influence on the response from regulators.
Governments at all levels require consultation on a range of environmental issues including oil and gas development and many consultations are spatially defined and localized in nature, that is, proposed developments may have an impact on a specific geographic radius surrounding the project. The Internet offers fresh potential to reinvigorate the dialogue as public engagement practices are changing over time, well beyond traditional bounds of public hearings.
PlaceSpeak is revolutionizing and innovating sustainable approaches to online community consultation by authenticating the online dialogue between citizens and decision-makers. In the simplest terms, PlaceSpeak allows proponents to gather public input according to its geographic source and thus distinguish location-specific issues from broad-based issues. PlaceSpeak allows citizens to ‘claim their place’ in the conversation according to their actual address by providing a controlled, secure, privacy-protected, transparent platform. Both industry and citizen users can gather public opinions on various proposed developments in a community or nation-wide.
PlaceSpeak adds value to public consultation through generating enriched and verifiable data to support one of the most critical phases in natural resource development initiatives. Successful resource developers frequently use evidence-based decision making obtained from the verifiable data to support policy development and decision-making. PlaceSpeak makes it possible for organizations to identify stakeholders in a more refined manner and have genuine conversations based on the nature of their interest.
Overall, natural resource managers and developers can use PlaceSpeak as a tool to manage single or multiple public consultations and projects in one place. PlaceSpeak applications range from gathering public opinion on the implementation of hydro-electric dams to the renewal of specific transportation plans and route options. Looking forward, PlaceSpeak intends to broaden its application into the contaminated sites field and other natural resource sectors by providing a value-added service to current public engagement strategies. PlaceSpeak can help consultants and developers gather defensible, geographically coded feedback to satisfy the regulated need for meaningful and interest-based public engagement by their clients.
If you have any questions or comments about the use of an online tool for public engagement in the natural resource sector, please contact:
Aimée Brisebois, [email protected]
Aimée Brisebois, a master’s student in natural resource management at Simon Fraser University is a MITACS intern with PlaceSpeak, a new online tool used to support public consultation initiatives. She is exploring public engagement strategies in the natural resource management field specifically to determine if there is an interest or a need for an open and transparent online tool, such as PlaceSpeak.
Aimée’s background in environmental toxicology and planning further supports her interest in contaminated sites and the use of an online public consultation tool to support the redevelopment process.