One of my favourite distractions is exploring new technologies that can be used to foster public engagement during community planning initiatives. I’ve referred to Web 2.0 in a previous post and highlighted some creative Web 2.0 applications for engaging the public. During my most recent “productive procrastination session” I came across allourideas.org.
This crowd sourcing website developed by a team from Princeton University enables the collection and prioritization of ideas in an efficient and transparent manner. The tool is
fast and the results quantifiable. The best part is that allourideas.org is a free, open-sourced application.
Allourideas.org was used by the City of New York during the PlanNYC 2030 project, the City’s sustainability strategic plan. During the project, visitors to the website contributed more than 21,000 votes and had over 200 new ideas.
Here’s how it works:
- Create your own public website through allourideas.org (you will get a custom URL which can be provided on newsletters, project websites etc.)
- Seed as many ideas related to your issue as possible. For example, if you want to increase sustainability in your community some ideas may include: i) Create a more integrated and accessible system of trails and paths; ii) increase participation in local food markets; iii) establish household or community gardens; iv) encourage low-emissions and fuel efficient vehicles.
- Present your participants with one question, for instance: “Which is the more important action we need to take to increase sustainability in our community?” The application only allows participant to vote on two of the seeded ideas at one time. The participant then moves on to vote for another pair of ideas. The process continues for as long as the participant wishes.
- The application allows for participants to contribute their own idea which will go
into the pool of seeded ideas to be voted on by other participants.
- When the voting is closed, the application has collected and prioritized ideas.
What I like most about allourideas.org is that the interface is straightforward, limiting the
participant’s choice to only two items at any one time. It is a “suggestion box of the digital
age”. By combining the voting process with the possibility of contributing new ideas, allourideas.org results in a ranked list that is more reflective of the opinion of stakeholders. In addition, the application has the capacity to present the results visually, saving valuable time (and budget) analyzing more traditional surveys.
Andrzej Schreyer , R.P.P. is a senior land use and environmental planner with Hardy Stevenson and Associates and a member of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and the Canadian Institute of Planners. His experience includes developing and implementing public participation and communications plans, managing social impact assessments and land use studies in support of infrastructure projects and preparing community-based strategic plans.