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NEW DATE: Engagement Tech for All Webinar now on June 26

Join PlaceMatters for a webinar on Engagement Tech for All.

Date: June 26, 2014

Time: 1:30 pm – 3 pm MDT

Registration: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/890641566

“Civic Technologies” are gaining increasing interest as a way to engage hard-to-reach populations in community planning and decision-making. Low income people, as well as people of color, immigrants, people with limited English proficiency, and youth are often un- or underrepresented in these processes.  Reasons for this lack of engagement include limited city budgets and staff capacity, absence of awareness of opportunities to engage, limited language skills and reading comprehension, and previous negative experiences resulting in mistrust or hostility towards government.  While not a panacea, civic technologies can enhance the toolkit available to planners and decision-makers who want to broaden public engagement. PlaceMatters recently released a report, funded by the Ford Foundation, on best practices in the use of civic technologies to reach underrepresented populations. The webinar will feature findings from the report, as well as case studies from communities that have effectively leveraged the widespread use of mobile phones, social media, and other technologies to engage a broad audience.  Join this webinar to learn more about the latest innovations in the field of civic technology, and the potential for these technologies to advance transformational change in communities, particularly around the lives of low-income people.

Speakers:

* Jill Locantore, Program Director, PlaceMatters
* Frank Hebbert, Director, OpenPlans
* Tamir Novotny, Senior Associate, Public Sector Innovation, Living Cities
* Holly St. Clair, Director of Data Services, Metropolitan Area Planning Council

This webinar session is provided through the Sustainable Communities Learning Network. The primary audience is members of the network, but anyone who is interested may participate.

Training Materials: Tools for Effective Community Engagement

On Thursday, May 22, PlaceMatters and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs hosted a training on Tools for Effective Community Engagement.  The handout from the training and a video recording are available here.

Training Description

This training was for Colorado communities affected by the 2013 floods, including local government staff and elected officials, and community-based partner organizations (e.g., housing authorities, parks and recreation districts, and private and nonprofit partners, etc.). Other local governments and community-based organizations throughout Colorado were welcome to participate remotely via the internet.

Topics covered:

* Principles of effective public engagement

* Tools and techniques appropriate for different levels of public engagement

* How to integrate informed decision-making into the process

* Special considerations for community engagement during disaster recovery

Speakers

* Ken Snyder, CEO  & President, PlaceMatters

* Jill Locantore, Program Director, PlaceMatters

Materials

* Hand out: Public Engagement Tools 05.22.14

* Video recording:

Tools for Effective Community Engagement from PlaceMatters’ Videos on Vimeo.


Presented by:

SponsorLogos

 

Community Engagement Training May 22

Join PlaceMatters for a training on
Tools for Effective Community Engagement

Date: Thursday, May 22, 2014

Time: 2:00 – 4:00 pm

Place: Loveland Public Library, 300 North Adams Avenue, Erion Room (2nd floor)

Note: This training will be recorded and broadcast live on the internet via Livestream at http://bit.ly/1dAsH0c 

Registration: http://CommunityEngagementTraining.eventbrite.com

This training is for Colorado communities affected by the 2013 floods, including local government staff and elected officials, and community-based partner organizations (e.g., housing authorities, parks and recreation districts, and private and nonprofit partners, etc.). Other local governments and community-based organizations throughout Colorado are welcome to participate remotely via the internet, and in person if space is available.

Topics to be covered:

* Principles of effective public engagement

* Tools and techniques appropriate for different levels of public engagement

* How to integrate informed decision-making into the process

* Special considerations for community engagement during disaster recovery

 

The training will be casual and interactive, with plenty of time for questions and answers throughout.

Questions? Contact Jill Locantore at jill@placematters.org.

AICP CM credits available.

 

Presented by:

SponsorLogos

Join PlaceMatters at the Colorado Transportation Symposium April 4

11th_Annual_Trans_SympPlaceMatters will be participating in a panel on Active Transportation at the Colorado Transportation Symposium, taking place Friday April 4th at the Colorado Convention Center.  The panel will focus on steps that Colorado-based organizations are taking to to help decision-makers make informed actions regarding active transportation (bicycle and pedestrian) facilities and programs – and to monitor the results of such actions.

The panel will include the following line-up of speakers:

Jim Charlier from Charlier Associates, Inc. Kaiser Permanente commissioned Charlier Associates, Inc. to lead an in-depth research and outreach effort to identify the best practices in measuring bicycle and pedestrian travel. The Colorado Active Transportation Mile Markers are a set of preferred, consensus measures that will help communities, government agencies and non-profit organizations effectively and accurately measure travel by pedestrians and bicyclists. The goal of implementing such consensus measures is to standardize methods and indicators, as is done for motorized travel, so that accurate pedestrian and bicycle travel information can be used to: monitor changes in travel behavior; compare information across jurisdictions; make decisions about infrastructure investments; and support the overarching goal of Kaiser Permanente to improve and monitor public health by encouraging physical activity.

Ken Brubaker from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).  CDOT adopted the Bicycle and Pedestrian Policy directive in 2009 stating that “…the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians shall be included in the planning, design, and operation of transportation facilities, as a matter of routine…” While well intentioned, this policy directive remained difficult to fulfill without sufficiently accurate estimates of bicycle and pedestrian volume on CDOT facilities. CDOT is currently working to implement a non-motorized counting program and to establish specific methodologies for estimating bicycle and pedestrian volumes from short duration counts, similar to that which is done in the motorized counting world. This work will enable CDOT to better understand the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians as well as best allocate limited resources in order to properly meet those needs.

Jill Locantore from PlaceMatters.   WALKscope is an open-source tool developed by PlaceMatters and WalkDenver to crowdsource data about walkability. Community members can access WALKscope via smartphones, tablets, and computers to report pedestrian amenities and conditions, and pedestrian counts. Data is stored online and can be used to create compelling visualizations that identify high quality pedestrian environments and places needing improvement.  WalkDenver is using collected data to advocate for pedestrian infrastructure improvements.  Participants will learn how WALKscope engages residents in assessing the walkability of their neighborhoods and shows how walkability relates to quality of life.

We hope you will join us!  Click here for more information and to register for the conference.

 

 

Engagement Tech for All

“Civic Technologies” are gaining increasing interest as a way to engage hard-to-reach populations in community planning and decision-making. Low income people, as well as people of color, immigrants, people with limited English proficiency, and youth are often un- or underrepresented in these processes.  Reasons for this lack of engagement, according to earlier research by the non-profit OpenPlans, include limited city budgets and staff capacity, absence of awareness of opportunities to engage, limited language skills and reading comprehension, and previous negative experiences resulting in mistrust or hostility towards government.  While not a panacea, we believe that civic technologies enhance the toolkit available to planners and decision-makers who want to broaden public engagement. 

However, little has been written to date about how civic technologists focused on reaching underrepresented communities can most effectively approach their work.  In response to this issue, PlaceMatters conducted best practices research, with support from the Ford Foundation.  We are pleased to release “Engagement Tech for All: Best Practices in the Use of Technology in Engagement Underrepresented Communities in Planning” today.

Mobile: An emerging frontier in civic engagement

Widespread adoption of mobile technologies is enabling some households to leapfrog the “digital divide.”  The Pew Research Center reports that as of May 2013, 91% of American adults had mobile phones, including 86% of adults with lower incomes.  Pew further reports that African-Americans and Latinos use social media slightly more than whites (non-Hispanics), and are more likely than whites to want the government to post more information on social media.

Case studies highlighted in the report illustrate how planners can leverage this widespread use of mobile phones and social media to engage a broad audience.  Mi Parque, for example, is a bi-lingual mobile smartphone application that gathers input about a 23-acre park being developed over a former Superfund site in Little Village in Chicago. The application was created by an all-women team including Motorola and several students and faculty affiliated with the Open Youth Networks from Columbia University, mentored by engineers from several tech companies. The report also describes #VizLou, a Twitter-based social media tool and website, developed by Living Cities in partnership with OpenPlans, which invites youth (“Visionaries”) in Louisville, KY, to engage around civic issues.

Emerging Best Practices

General best practices that emerge from the report include the following:

  1. Members of the target population should provide input on tool development, to ensure the tool will be accessible to and used by the community.
  2. For underrepresented communities in particular, new tools or add-ons should be built based upon tools and technology these communities are already using.
  3. Visual communication, including graphics, short videos, and images are often a more effective means of communicating and engaging underrepresented groups that have a variety of language and educational backgrounds.
  4. Tools that track user demographics can help practitioners evaluate the effectiveness of the tool in reaching target populations, and demonstrate the value of the tools to sometimes-skeptical public decision-makers
  5. Regardless of the outreach method used, the most critical determinant of success (real and perceived) is whether the input gathered is reflected in decisions, actions, and outcomes.  Quick implementation of on-the-ground changes, even small ones, can demonstrate the responsiveness of public agencies to community input and needs.
  6. The most effective examples of technology-based tool use take advantage of social networks, community groups, and trusted advocates that already exist in the real world, and use these tools to support, rather than replace, face-to-face interaction.

Our report concludes by noting that, while communities are using technology to effectively engage typically underrepresented groups, rigorous evaluation of these efforts has been limited.  In some cases, communities need to collect additional data to more accurately determine who is participating, and to meaningfully compare the costs and benefits associated with different tools or outreach methods.  For example, better information on demographics and cost per participant associated with hosting public meetings versus engaging residents through online or mobile technologies can help communities use limited resources more efficiently, and to target more expensive outreach methods to specific groups that may be difficult to engage otherwise.

Click the links below to download the main report and related appendices:

Engagement Tech for All: Main Report

Engagement Tech for All: Appendix A

Engagement Tech for All: Appendix B

 

This post also appeared on the Living Cities blog, The Catalyst.

Webinar: Transitioning to Long-Term Community Engagement

Join PlaceMatters and PolicyLink for a webinar on Transitioning to Long-Term Community Engagement.

Date: February 19, 2014

Time: 12:00 – 1:30 pm MDT

Registration: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/278207318

Comprehensive planning that integrates the needs and expertise of a broad range of sectors, communities and approaches is the foundation of HUD’s Sustainable Communities Initiative.  With the grant program’s emphasis on increasing the engagement of historically marginalized communities in the planning process, local governments and regions have been forging new relationships, new problem-solving methods, and new, inclusive decision-making tables.

The challenge now is how to transition this work into long-term strategies and institutionalized practices for continued community engagement beyond the grant-funding period.  PlaceMatters and PolicyLink have therefore teamed up to host a webinar on strategies and resources for institutionalizing inclusive, meaningful engagement through behavioral, organizational, structural or other changes.

The webinar will feature speakers from two different communities that are on the forefront of implementing long-term strategies for community engagement – the Kansas City Region and Piedmont Triad.  Join this webinar to learn about the approaches these regions are exploring and using to continue and institutionalize the public/community partnerships developed during the SCI planning phase.

Speakers:

  • Jill Locantore, Sustainable Solutions Group, PlaceMatters (moderator)
  • Sarita Turner, Senior Associate, PolicyLink
  • Ron Achelpohl, Assistant Director of Transportation, Mid-America Regional Council
  • Gloria Ortiz-Fisher, Executive Director, Westside Housing Organization
  • Mark E. Kirstner, AICP, Director of Planning, Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation
  • David Allen, Communications and Youth Outreach, Beloved Community Center, Greensboro, NC

Please contact Jill Locantore at jill@placematters.org if you have any questions.

This webinar session is sponsored by the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities at U.S. HUD. The primary audience is Sustainable Communities Partnership grantees and their consortium partners, but anyone who is interested may participate.

 

 

PlaceMatters and WalkDenver Partner on Pedestrian Data Collection Tool

We are pleased to announce that PlaceMatters is partnering with WalkDenver to develop an open-source, on-line data collection tool that will create an inventory of pedestrian facilities and conditions in Denver neighborhoods, as well as collect pedestrian data counts. The tool will allow community members to record neighborhood conditions via smart phones or tablets, upload and store this information in a shared online database, and create compelling maps and other visualizations that illustrate the need for improvements.  WalkDenver will use the tool to engage residents in assessing the walkability of their own neighborhoods and understanding how walkability relates to quality of life and health. The data collected will help identify and prioritize strategies for improving walkability and track changes over time.  The project is funded by a grant from Mile High Connects.

Visit PlaceMatters at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference

PlaceMatters is excited to sponsor the 13th annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference taking place here in Denver February 13-16, 2014.  Along with EPA and the Open Source Planning Tools Collaborative, PlaceMatters will be hosting a Tech Fair on Friday, February 14, from 9AM to 3PM, showcasing cutting edge tools for scenario planning and public engagement. We are moderating two panel discussions on “Building Leadership for Water-Wise Growth in the West” (Thursday at 4PM), and “Lessons from the Vacant School House: Turning Empty Buildings into Assets” (Friday at 1:30PM).  Together with our friends at WalkDenver, we are leading an “Urban Walkshop” on Sunday at 8:30AM, that will explore the Jefferson Park neighborhood and demonstrate the new pedestrian data collection tool we are developing to support WalkDenver’s work in neighborhoods throughout Denver.  We hope to see you at the conference!