We now operate in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Canada. So it was just a matter of time before we featured a fantastic site from the northern hemisphere. Halifax Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia, Canada launched this great project on Construction Mitigation Guidelines a few weeks ago. Whilst perhaps not the most exciting topic, it's a great reminder of why online engagement works and how it is the perfect complement to real world citizen engagement activities.
Client: Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Project: Construction Mitigation Guidelines
Publish Date: Early April 2016
Topic: Earlier this year, the Halifax Regional Council wanted to develop new construction guidelines to address the impacts of construction activity on local businesses, residents and visitors. The aim of the consultation is to mitigate the negative impacts of construction.
Tools: Forum, Quick Poll
Widgets: Key Dates, FAQ, Document Library, Important Links, Facebook
Complementing real world engagement: We picked this project because it reminds us how far EHQ has come. 6 or 7 years ago, this local council would've had to rely solely on public meetings for consultation feedback. These days, online engagement can provide an alternative for those unable to attend or speak at public meetings or simply don't have the time to contribute to the discussion. Today, participants can simply provide their comments online in the comfort of their own homes.
It also shows consultations that aren't necessarily edgy or exciting can still be engaging. The foundation of good citizen engagement can often be found in less colourful projects, like construction mitigation, and they are just as important as their high-profile counterparts.
FAQs: The FAQ widget is an unusual widget. If used incorrectly, the widget might confuse visitors and leave more questions than it answers. However, in this project, the FAQ addresses many potential questions and leaves confusing jargon aside.
Key Dates: The Key Dates widget outlines the dates of the Public Open House, which provides details of the public meeting, and includes information about the duration of the online consultation.
Document Library: The key document is uploaded as a PDF file, which makes it accessible for most people and from most devices. It is also a tiny file size, less than 0.25MB, so it won't require too much data in order to download.
For further consideration:
Archive: The offline and online components of the same consultation don't need to be split into two events as Halifax has done. Some EHQ admins have recently started to use tools, like the Forum or Brainstormer, to collect ideas and comments at a real world event so they remain visible to the public online. An example of this can be found here.
Photos: If you are running a community event and are also using EHQ, make sure to take some photos. This is great content for your online project and can help promote your next event. It's a good idea to ask attendees for permission to do so though!
OVERALL: Engaging your community doesn't always have to be about high-profile consultations. A solid project in which online and offline engagement work together is a great way to effectively engage your community on a variety of issues. Halifax has done a number of great consultations and is a good example of a client doing a job well. Don't forget to bookmark their page and check back periodically to see the latest!
NOTE: The article above is based on a visit to the site on 26 April 2016. Changes made to the project after that date may have altered the appearance of the project.