Crowdsourcing from the grassroots: Vancouverites share what they would like to improve in their City

crowdsourcing from the grassroots

What would make Vancouver A Better City through the perspective of your neighbourhood? We’re inviting all Vancouverites to engage in a dialogue to co-create policy recommendations for Council to implement after the 2018 election.

The City of Vancouver continues to spend effort and resources on consulting with the public, through things such as in-person public meetings and online surveys. However, many wonder if these current methods are adequate. This leaves Vancouverites feeling that their opinions are not valued, deepening the existing distrust between citizens and their elected decision-makers. With feelings of mistrust and resignation, some community members are more likely to be reluctant to participate.

While some community members become disengaged from the public process, others turn to the other extreme, channelling their frustration online. With the affordances of anonymity, the trolls no longer live under a bridge, but are instead embedded into forums and other online platforms. These discussions not only create an environment of negativity but are counterproductive as they deter others from sharing their views and hinder decision-makers from considering the feedback provided.

Input from Vancouverites is valuable. Each community member is an expert on their neighbourhood; cognizant of the intersection missing a stop sign, the daily bike lane traffic, or the demand, or lack thereof, for a new corner store. As such, it becomes an integral part of city planning to engage community members related to their neighbourhood.

I am a big proponent of crowdsourcing from the grassroots to help influence future decision-making in the City. Through crowdsourcing feedback, we collect crucial information that creates meaningful outcomes tailored to each specific community. This is why I am spending my summer doing exactly that with PlaceSpeak.

A Better City

PlaceSpeak is a location-based civic engagement platform that brings community members together by fostering legitimate discussions on issues that matter. This summer, we are launching a new project called A Better City Vancouver to collect feedback in a transparent and accessible way. A Better City asks community members from 50 neighbourhoods in Vancouver to share what would improve the city through the perspective of their neighbourhood.

To participate in the process, participants sign up and authenticate themselves to verify that they are residents of the City of Vancouver. Their contributions are then geolocated (i.e. tied to a physical location) so that the feedback collected can be grouped according to where they live.

Participants are able to provide feedback in several ways:

  • Share 3-5 things that they would like to improve in their neighbourhood in the Discussions
  • Post text, images, or videos on the Noticeboard to show us what a better city could look like
  • Identify specific places that they would like to improve in the city on an interactive PlaceIt map

The feedback collected would be aggregated to various policy topics in the form of a report. The report would outline municipal policy recommendations for City Council to implement after the 2018 election. More information on the policy topics can be found in the Resources section.

Vancouverites, this is your chance to partake in a transparent and defensible discussion process and share your opinion on ways to improve the various neighbourhoods in the City through A Better City. A Better City is about generating ideas to build a better Vancouver for all, and empower change in the communities where we live, work and play.

Have your say! Connect at: placespeak.com/abc

By Yusraa Tadj

* All views expressed in this blog post belong to the author and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of CYH.