Experiences on participatory digital tools within the HEAT project

The project partners have tried out several digital tools for both citizen participation via online solutions as well as enhancing the participation of professionals during events. The city of Tartu and Cykelfrämjandet have focused on engaging residents via online activities, whereas Valonia and IBS used participatory digital tools in workshops aimed at professionals. The tools used for citizen participation were ArcGis (Tartu), Maptionnaire and Google Forms (Cykelfrämjandet in Stockholm). The tools used in professional workshops were Kahoot (IBS in Tartu) and Mentimeter (Valonia in Southwest Finland).

ArcGIS

Tartu’s experience with ArcGis showed it enables taking part idea gathering about light traffic. The tool gave the oppoturnity to make graphical lines and dots right on the map of Tartu so the accuracy of the ideas was very high and the data was very easy to use in further planning process. The residents were asked to share ideas about new light traffic connections to be planned and built. The city of Tarty also asked about certain places to be rebuilt or restore to make the light traffic street network more comfortable and smooth. The target group were all citizens who use biking or walking in everyday life and the survey was marketed with a news article in a local newspaper and on Tartu’s website. It reached 700 responses. City of Tartu was very pleased with the amount and found the responses very useful.

Maptionnaire

Cykelfrämjandet in Stockholm tested two different tools. They were using Maptionnaire, the map based survey tool, to both get input from Stockholmers on which issues are most important for them in bicycle planning at the moment, framed through the question of how what is their vision of Stockholm a a Cycling City in the year 2030. They also wanted to use the tool to engage people in planning processes in general and to begin thinking about the built environment around them as something they can influence. Cykelfrämjandet participated in the Stockholm Bicycle Carnival on the 22nd of September 2018 and marketed the survey there. They also had an ipad on a bike on a trainer available for people to cycle and fill it out and discuss on location. They also organized some activities for children to engage children in the questions in a way that doesn’t require knowledge of how to read maps. The survey was also spread online via social media, primarily Facebook. They also put up a poster about the survey in a popular local bicycle shop/café in Stockholm. Cykelfrämjandet found designing the basic survey quite easy and user friendly but if you’d like to add something of your own to the base map however you need a bit more knowledge and know how about GIS.

Google Forms

The other tool used by Cykelfrämjandet was the very well-known Google Forms, a free survey tool by Google. The issue for this workshop/survey was the concept of “Cykelstaden Söderort” – a concept for a more bikable and interconnected southern suburb of Stockholm. They wanted to create engagement in the issue and to get feedback from residents on how they would prioritize or rank a number of previously suggested interventions in the area. They were originally planning on using Facebook as the tool for a survey but then realized that there are potential privacy issues with using Facebook as the public interface for a survey of this kind and therefore decided to use Facebook as the marketing and outreach platform for the workshop and to link to a Google form survey. The tools were used in two steps, both in preparation for a planning workshop event to discuss the issue at hand and thereafter in a resulting Google Form survey to get in a broader range of answers from residents. The target group were the residents of Stockholm’s southern suburbs and the survey reached 108 responses, marketed through the local Stockholm group and other participating local NGOs and residency groups’ Facebook pages. The results have been used for example in a workshop with architecture students about community building initiatives and they have designed several urban planning solutions based on the survey results.

Mentimeter

In May 2019 Valonia organized a workshop about the regional traffic system plan for municipal officials from different sectors and fields of expertise from the Southwest Finland region. As the focus of the workshop was to encourage people to bring in their professional views for smarter decisions regarding transport and mobility, it was important to make participating and interaction within the workshop participants as easy as possible. To make this happen, Valonia decided to try out Mentimeter, an online interaction/presentation tool to gather opinions and ideas from the participants. The tool was used by everyone on they own mobile device and it seemed to keep the participants activated. The most essential pros in using a digital tool in a workshop are giving everyone an equal chance to speak thei minds and also to be able collect the data without having to keep a memo, so the facilitators can keep their focus on interaction. After the successful test in the workshop in May, the tool has been used in several workshops held by Valonia and/or the Regional Council of Southwest Finland.

Kahoot

As Tartu city was planning its’ idea gathering round (with ArgGis) on new potential light traffic lanes, IBS used the Kahoot to quiz seminar participants on what they think should be included in the idea gathering, e.g. in addition to marking down where they wish the city had bike lanes. They also wanted their opinion on whether it would be useful to be able to mark down problematic spots (crossroads, junctions); whether fatbikes, scooters, etc. should also be included and so on. Everyone at the seminar participated and used the tool so they got 24 responses. The responses showed clear trends and opinions. The Kahoot quiz was easy to set up. The only thing that the organizer needs to consider is the time limit – since Kahoot has strong gamification elements, the time limit for answering tends to be quite short so it may be a good idea to extend this limit. All in all Kahoot turned out to be simple, the quizzing aspect was fun and interactive, and joining the quiz is very easy on a mobile device.

See more info on the digital tools in general here.

Mentimeter user in a workshop in Turku