Maribyrnong City Council engaged Capire Consulting Group (Capire) to design, deliver and report on engagement activities for the West Footscray Community Facilities Plan project. In this article, we share the learnings and innovative online community engagement approaches including their pioneering use of the interactive PDF tool Konveio.
The draft West Footscray Community Facilities Plan was developed to identify opportunities to accommodate a mix of current and future users while also addressing the needs of a growing population. Because a variety of different interests and parties have a stake in the future facilities and maximizing use of open space, this project was of immense local interest.
Engagement also coincided with the pandemic outbreak in Victoria where public health restrictions forced a move to an online approach and tools, given face-to-face opportunities were limited.
The challenge was identifying appropriate tools to support Council to gather and compile participants’ contributions and feedback on seven draft concept plans, developed using findings from earlier engagement, in the pandemic environment to ensure broad reach and participation.
Bang the Table’s integration with the interactive PDF tool Konveio was the perfect fit — allowing the capture of community and stakeholder thoughts around the development of infrastructure, sports grounds, and open space as they related to the actual functions, facilities and uses proposed.
Community Engagement Objectives
The objectives of the engagement on the West Footscray Facilities Community Plan were to:
- Inform residents and stakeholders of how feedback in previous engagement had been incorporated into the concept designs
- Seek feedback on the draft concept design options from a diverse range of stakeholders via an online platform, while being clear on negotiables and non-negotiables for the project
- Provide a report to Council highlighting key emerging themes to inform the future detailed design process.
Using a variety of engagement activities and promotional channels
For a month, from 3rd April to the 3rd May 2020, the community was encouraged to provide feedback on the draft concept plans for the West Footscray Community Facilities Project via their dedicated on-line engagement platform Your City Your Voice.
Engagement activities were designed to maximize opportunities for feedback with community members encouraged to participate in a variety of ways including:
- An initial co-design workshop delivered face to face with a targeted stakeholder reference group
- Online survey for the wider community with the ability to drop pins and comment on the draft plans directly
- Hard copy surveys available as required
- Briefing sessions with targeted stakeholder groups via an online webinar due to COVID-19 restrictions and;
- Targeted stakeholder feedback invited via letter submission
Engagement was promoted through multiple channels including social media, email, an online blog, and social media.
Participants were asked to comment on the draft concept designs by dropping pins and providing feedback directly onto the element of the plan they wished to comment on. Feedback was classified as either ‘ideas’, ‘comments’ or ‘issues.’
128 participants completed the online survey with 88 additional participants adding a further 648 comments directly on the concept plans.
This was made possible through EngagementHQ’s integration with Konveio — software which makes interactive publishing, reviewing, and commenting on documents and designs more social, allowing local government to elicit feedback, expand on ideas with contextual insights, or add rich media overlays within the actual PDF (removing the need to download documents separately).
Providing the opportunity for participants to respond directly to the draft Plan also provided for enhanced interaction with community members able to view each other’s comments, and respond and vote on other ideas and suggestions — all of which is not possible with a simple survey feedback form.
Designing an engaging Project Page for a Facilities Community Plan
The West Footscray Community Facilities Plan Project was delivered across various stages with Council creating dedicated project pages within EngagementHQ to support each stage of the project.
For the major round of engagement, a dedicated project page allowed for seamless integration of the Konveio interactive tool. Participants were first asked to register on Your City Your Voice to enable validation of all contributions and demographic insights from those involved and were also provided with a brief overview of key steps and tips for navigating the different draft concept plans. Guidance was also provided on how to interact with the draft plans and comment.
Given the COVID environment at the time, Council was forced to promote the importance of the project and encouraged involvement from the community virtually, as face-to-face engagement was limited. A short video of the Mayor of the City of Maribyrnong outlining the context for the engagement was loaded on the engagement portal which audiences were able to access on their visits to the project page.
Council and Capire also prepared a Factsheet and set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to provide background information and assist the community with the engagement process. These were also able to be downloaded from the project page.
Capire collated an engagement feedback report post engagement with the findings which were presented to the Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) and key staff across Council to test and refine the key emerging issues related to the draft concepts.
“Konveio was an effective tool that allowed the community to touch and feel the proposed plans allowing Council to gather community feedback specifically around any key issues, functions and uses, and any design considerations.”
– Denise Francisco, Capire Associate
Following adoption by Council of the West Footscray Community Facilities Plan, site planning, due diligence, and detailed design have begun. They have also been advocating for funding to deliver the project, which was informed by the four-stage engagement process.
Whether you have an existing project in mind or would like to explore options for the future, Bang the Table’s expert team can help ensure the Konveio tool becomes a seamless addition to your engagement toolkit.
Capire Consulting can also assist you to design and deliver tailored engagement strategies to build understanding, create local ownership and inform sustainable decision-making.
Get in touch with Bang the Table or talk to your Engagement Manager to get started with Konveio to enhance your next online community engagement consultation.