Encouraging more People to Participate in Urban Planning

Urban management is becoming a more complex challenge for today’s cities. In a world of accelerated urbanization and globalization, affordable housing, public transportation, energy efficiency and social sustainability are just a few examples of the interrelated issues that need careful attention in planning processes.

To advance any development project, modern-day urban planners are required to invest considerably into communication and collaboration with various stakeholder groups to strike a balance among competing interests and values.

However, to employ problem-solving that truly serves the needs of local communities and results in shared ownership of any city’s future, it is essential to concentrate on listening to residents.

This has brought community engagement into the core of urban planning. During recent years, the design of a good public participation strategy that reaches out to as many as possible, has become a key question for implementing successful development initiatives.

The foundation for any effective engagement strategy is to apply a mix of conventional and modern outreach tools. But as everyday life increasingly happens through various internet platforms and mobile devices, people’s interest is rapidly shifting towards online participatory applications.

We have compiled seven steps that will help you toward more successful participatory planning using digital participation tools such as Maptionnaire.

7 steps to maximize the reach of public participation:

Make participation fun

A positive atmosphere lowers the bar for sharing opinions and attracts more people to get involved.

Be sure to use visually appealing tools

An enjoyable visual appearance awakens people’s interest.

Be open and honest

Be honest and transparent within your planning process. This will help citizens trust you – also in the long term.

Use the data gathered productively

Share public consultation results using attractive visualizations and maps. Furthermore, things don’t need to end with communicating outcomes: if you asked where new flower benches should be placed, invite residents to plant the flowers with you!

Be creative

Participation programs don’t always need to be the same. There are many interesting ways to organize your participation work. How about using interactive content or adding a little gamification to your project?

Don’t be afraid of the public

People can be direct but don’t take it personally. They just want to help build a better environment to live in.

Involve residents from the beginning

The earlier residents are involved in an engagement process, the more likely they are going to participate during the later phases.

In our work, we are excited to observe how cities and towns across the globe have started to understand the importance of well-thought public participation. Increasingly many are boldly experimenting with new tools to invite residents to join in co-shaping their surroundings.

It can take a lot of time and energy to organize and plan an effective participation process that is accessible to everyone. But if you’re striving to make your city liveable, it’s worth it.

getting people to participate maptionnaire

Banner picture by Jens Johnsson