Closing The Loop Of Online Engagement using EHQ
Client: Department of Environment and Planning, ACT, Australia
Project: Statement of Planning Intent
Publish Date: 16 November 2015
Topic: The ‘Statement of Planning Intent’ consultation will guide the direction of Canberra’s future built environment. Earlier this year over 170 stakeholders and community members were engaged in a conversation about this issue, the results of which are now presented back to the community.
Tools: Surveys & Forms
Widgets: Facebook, Photos Gallery, Document Library, Important Links, Who’s Listening
1. Closing the loop: We’re big believers in the practice of closing the loop of a community engagement process. This means notifying and informing your community and stakeholders about the outcome and/or progress of a consultation, even if there is no current engagement. This includes reaching out to already engaged participants but also ensuring transparency with anyone with an interest in the topic.
2. Looking ahead: This project clearly displays the results of the consultation and outlines key steps moving forward. This highlights the fact that community engagement is a continuous process.
3. Use of the Form tool: The site administrators are using the Form tool in an innovative way by asking participants to register their details in order to receive regular updates about the project. This helps keep people engaged in the consultation and provides administrators with a sense of the community’s ongoing interest. Of course, this works seamlessly with EHQ’s in-built newsletter function which allows you to send relevant group emails to your project database.
4. Supporting documents: Two key documents are available for viewing on this site. The original ‘Intent’ paper and the ‘Public Engagement Report’. We like the latter in particular in light of the keeping participants informed best practice mentioned in point 1 above.
5. Look: This project uses great photos and imagery to provide context for the consultation. Generic photos are featured as well as great images taken at the consultation workshops. On a whole, the site looks great and invites people to engage with the content.
For further consideration
1. Alternative picture names: Any image you upload to EHQ, in particular into the ‘Project Image’ function or into any tool description, should always contain a title name. Why? The image name is used as an ‘alt’ tag in the site’s HTML coding and this alt tag is picked up by screen readers so that visually impaired people can hear what the image is about, which provides accessibility to all users and the alt tag is also crucial for improving search engine results.
To edit an image name, simply click on an image after uploading to reach the box below. There you can enter the title, any external link that you wish the photo to link to and adjust the image position.
2. Facebook widget: There are three types of Facebook integrations available for use with EHQ. This project uses a widget that allows people to comment via Facebook though this isn’t ideal. It would be better to use EHQ’s own Guestbook function so that comments can be tracked and moderated directly via EHQ.
Last fortnight’s staff pick focussed on involving the community from the start of a consultation process. This week we focus on the opposite end of the project lifecycle. By using best practice techniques and closing the loop on a consultation, the community is kept informed and involved about a topic even after the official engagement has concluded. We highly commend the ACT’s Department of Environment and Planning for a job well done.
NOTE: The above is based on a visit to the site on 01 December 2015. Changes made to the project after that date may have altered the appearance of the project.