Creating spaces in a scalable, sustainable way that suits the needs and desires of a community is not easy. While the ultimate goal is to socially, culturally, economically, and environmentally improve a place for the sake of local people and visitors, it can be difficult establishing the impact changes can have and general expectations.
While town hall meetings and letter correspondence still have a place in the placemaking process, modern engagement with communities and stakeholders can be enhanced through digital placemaking tools.
Nowadays, almost all of us own a smartphone. The utility of this is something that PLACEengage has embraced to help connect everyone involved in the placemaking process.
Public consultation is vital
Irish legislation dictates that the public must be consulted throughout developments. This includes preparing, amending, and withdrawing plans which can change regularly. With multiple stakeholders, authorities, and public figures involved in the process, placemaking can grind to a halt without a smooth channel of communication.
With Ireland experiencing a substantial property crisis, there is considerable demand for life to be breathed into local communities through placemaking. Far from the old mantra of not-in-my-back-yard, we now have a chorus of YES-in-my-back-yard (YIMBY).
Public consultation on developments is now encouraged in Ireland, thanks to the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan (2014-2016). This scheme seeks to “enable the public to participate in policy development and in the design of public services”.
The hope of this communications toolkit is to “promote a culture of innovation and openness by involving greater external participation and consultation in policy development” and engage communities in the pre-planning process.
Public participation, however, is not easy. Awareness and accessibility are two of the major roadblocks to engaging with communities, with most people simply left out of the loop. While planning permission begins with public consultation, a lot of voices are not heard because of this.
Meaningful community engagement with PLACEengage
To remedy this PLACEengage has developed its public consultation and engagement platform, designed to include everyone.
PLACEengage brings together authorities, stakeholders, clients, and the neighbourhood involved using an app that acts as a continual communications channel. Using the app, local authorities can upload proposals for consideration, planning decisions and amendments can be announced, and feedback can be given in real-time.
By leveraging smartphone technology, communities are empowered to be involved in this process, interacting directly with stakeholders and authorities. The planning process can be complex with legislation and procedure unfamiliar to some. Understanding can be facilitated thanks to live streams using PLACEengage’s digital placemaking tool that can be used to workshop and communicate clearly.
Looking forwards, PLACEengage also embraces the latest developments in the world of real estate. Using augmented immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality tools, it is possible to let communities experience developments before being developed.
Benefits of digital placemaking tools
While public consultation and engagement are no longer a courtesy but a requirement, they can also be a great benefit to a project that produces better developments. PLACEengage is focused on keeping everyone in the loop, with clear communication through an intuitive platform. It’s key benefits include:
- Greatly increases public engagement by leveraging commonplace technology (smartphone)
- Provides the main communication point for pre-planning consultation using
- Keeps documents and developments organised, accessible at all times
- AR and VR technology Increase understanding and give insight into development benefits
- Receive instant, meaningful feedback and views through real-time comments, meeting legislative requirements
- Live streaming promotes widespread engagement and participation in the placemaking process.
- Allows 24/7 engagement with a project, anywhere.
Placemaking is a process to create spaces with a lot of social value. It makes sense, then, to engage the general public as early as possible to ensure spaces are not just welcome but truly designed with specific neighbourhoods in mind.