Enabling Online Dialogue — urbanista Leading the Way in Germany

urbanista is an agency that studies the future of urban environment. It’s one of Germany's leading participatory urban development consultancies. Since 1998, they’ve been active in the communicative and co-creative form of city development. For urbanista, the city is a living, ever-surprising, and ever-changing being. 

The people at urbanista believe city planning concerns everyone and not only those who have a professional interest towards it. Opinions and views of those affected should be heard early enough to avoid frustration. That’s why urbanista co-operates with cities and neighborhoods at the early stages of a planning project, and always works together with the locals. urbanista’s goal is to make citizens excited about urban planning, and to develop sustainable ideas and concepts together that reflect the needs realistically and have a big impact. 

Shaping Public Participation in Germany

urbanista has been an early adopter of map-based tools for citizen dialogue, and has this way helped shape public participation in Germany. In the fast-paced development of digital tools for participation, they had to make a choice: to invest in the development and management of their own online tool, or to go with a third-party service. With Maptionnaire as an option, the decision was easy: this online, map-based survey tool had everything they needed.

Placing pins on precise locations, commenting on mapped locations or areas, as well as adding various question types such as questions with pictures attached to them, range questions, and multiple choice questions — these features of Maptionnaire are in constant use at urbanista. And above all, everything works not only on desktops but also on mobile devices, which the urbanista people find essential. By using Maptionnaire, they can concentrate on the content and Maptionnaire takes care of the development and management of the tool.

Who is looking for a map-based online participation tool, will end up choosing Maptionnaire in the end. We don’t know of any solution that even comes close to what Maptionnaire has to offer.
— urbanista, Germany

Improving Dialogue with Residents

urbanista has been using Maptionnaire mainly in the early analysis phase of projects. Typically, they ask for feedback about positive and negative experiences of spaces and places that should be changed or preserved. They have found it especially useful that the data is presented as pinned locations, lines, or heat maps. This data is then used for communicating about the projects, and makes it easier.

By using Maptionnaire, urbanista was able to improve the online dialogue with residents: the dialogue is now richer and more precise. They were especially happy that using Maptionnaire with touchscreen devices was so easy and smooth.

 

CASE: Blaugrüner Ring, Düsseldorf

Citizens could mark their favourite places on a map.

Citizens could mark their favourite places on a map.

Blaugrüner Ring (The Blue-Green Ring) is a network of the parks and the Rhein riverside in the center of Düsseldorf. Many of the city’s most important cultural sites, such as museums, galleries and concert halls are located next to the ring creating an interesting cultural strolling route.

They could also indicate routes that they were using most often.

They could also indicate routes that they were using most often.

The City of Düsseldorf made an initiative to connect the cultural elements and the open space as part of the experienced environment of the city and the cultural landscape, and to make citizens more familiar with the network.

Citizens were asked to join the process by using different participation methods. “Du und der blaue Ring” (“You and the Blue-Green Ring”) was the slogan of this process. One of the options to share their ideas was a Maptionnaire questionnaire set up by urbanista. The citizens could mark exact places and routes along the ring they felt negatively or positively towards, and also suggest improvements.