PlaceSpeak’s Urban Future Survey 2012 Profiled in the Vancouver Sun
New online survey platform connects people with local issues
Metro Vancouver has always had its issues, but the old methods of getting residents’ feedback — public hearings, open houses and surveys at the doorstep — aren’t as effective any more in the Internet world.
A new start-up called Place-Speak hopes to bridge that gap with a virtual consultation platform designed to connect people with local issues — such as a massive housing development, dog park or transportation project — online.
The platform, which links a citizen’s identity with a residential address, will provide a broad view of how those in a specific geographic location feel about a specific issue. It will also allow potential online dialogue between citizens and local government.
The PlaceSpeak platform arose out of a bid by Hardwick to Urban Futures Opinion Survey 2012, which would be the third in a series of geographically specific studies in 40 years. While the first two surveys — in 1973 and 1990 — were conducted by the regional district, PlaceSpeak will use similar questions to compare the changing attitudes around economic, social, mobility and lifestyle issues across the Lower Mainland.
The survey, which takes 22 minutes, can be found here: https://www.placespeak.com/topic/323/urban-futures-survey-2012/
Ian McKinnon, chair of the National Statistics Council and former head of Decima Research, said the new platform will give residents a chance to express their views in a low-key manner while allowing city planners to pinpoint people in a specific neighbourhood when they’re dealing with a new plan.
By narrowing the responses to a particular area, he added, the city can get a better idea of what’s underpinning residents’ concerns.
“Over time you can get used to consulting in a low-key fashion about your preferences, and not waiting until a multi-million-dollar development [is proposed] and lines are entrenched. It certainly gives people an opportunity to respond more systematically than they can now.
“Once people start hearing from friends and neighbours that the feedback is listened to, it’s likely to snowball.”
Hardwick said the idea, which is a personal homage to her father, the late urban geographer Walter Hardwick, who was involved in the earlier surveys and in regional planning initiatives such as False Creek, was born out of the need to consult people in a changing world.
She noted the old ways, such as telephone surveys and door-to-door interviews done in the 1971 survey, aren’t relative today, mainly because many people don’t have landlines and won’t answer the phone or door to strangers. By linking residents’ identity to their address — whole protecting their privacy — she said the data will be verifiable and provide decision makers with “hard data they can point to” when making policy decisions.
You can read the entire article HERE.