We selected another fantastic consultation by Bayside City Council (this is their 2nd time around!) as our fortnightly staff pick due to their innovative approach. Bayside is reaching out to two hard to reach segments of the community: parents and their 2 to 12-year-old kids. This project asks for parents and their youngsters to become official playground testers!
Client: Bayside City Council, Victoria, Australia
Project: Playground Improvement Plan
Publish Date: (republished) February 5, 2016
Topic: Bayside City Council is seeking community feedback in order to improve the area's playgrounds. To do so, they are inviting parent-child teams to try out local play equipment. These testers will visit ten playgrounds in two months and provide feedback via secret journals.
Tools: Survey, Q&A
Widgets: 3x Photo Gallery, Custom, Who's Listening, Document Library,
Concept: Both parents and young children are traditionally difficult citizens to engage. Parents lack the time to take part in engagement activities and children, due to their young age, are limited by the amount of relevant consultations they can take part in.
Since the callout for playground testers went out only a couple weeks ago, hundreds of local parent-child teams have registered to take part.
Introduction: This consultation takes a simple approach. Parents register their children as playground testers and maintain a journal of their child's playground experiences whose results are subsequently tallied by the engagement team. A good project description and custom widget introduce the project clearly. With just once glance at the page, the project requirements are very easy to understand.
Imagery: Cute images and an adorable project banner give this site a fun look and feel.
Q&A tool: We have previously mentioned it is worthwhile to include a Q&A tool in almost any project. Why? The Q&A tool promotes transparency and builds trust between the agency running the consultation and the public, as long as you respond to questions in a timely fashion.
It is even better when the tool includes a call-to-action, which is the case in this project.
Survey tool: This project requires user registrations and the survey function is the best tool for this purpose. We encourage you to take a look at the second page of the "Playground Testers Wanted" survey, where kids are asked what special power they would like to have if they were superheroes? We're not sure if this helps with tester selection or if it is just to get kids excited about the project. In any case, this type of fun question should be included in any kind of children's consultation.
For further consideration:
Who's Listening: The 'Who's Listening' widget is a fantastic feature to use for this type of consultation. With projects that involve children, you want to ensure there is a lot of trust between the community and the project team. The Who's Listening widget promotes this transparency. However, it could be improved further by including a picture of the team member that is 'listening' to this consultation.
Links: Although there are a couple of links to the registration form, there needs to be at least one more, in the Current Playgrounds description to ensure possible registrants aren't being lost. Making sure there are plenty of links and they are all working is a crucial final step before launching any online engagement project.
OVERALL: We love this great and innovative consultation. What a fantastic way to include both parents and young children in community engagement and to encourage parents to be active with their children. From a practice standpoint, this is also an awesome project. Well done!
NOTE: The article above is based on a visit to the site on 15 February 2015. Changes made to the project after that date may have altered the appearance of the project.