Epanels Apr09
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Epanels Apr09 Presentation Transcript

  • 1. The potential of e-panels Online community engagement
  • 2. Citizens’ Panels
    • Very common in the UK – less so in NZ
    • Comprise representative sample of population for regular surveys
    • In Bristol, 2000 residents received 3 surveys a year – mainly by post
    • Panellists sent feedback and results plus invited to focus groups etc
    • Good practice to replace members after 3 years
  • 3. E-panels
    • Online or e-engaged citizens’ panel
    • Can follow similar model to regular panel but has more flexibility
    • Surveys, online discussions, polls, chats
    • Aim for representative mix of participants
    • Cheaper to run and quicker to communicate
  • 4. Recruitment
    • Two key approaches:
    • Standard market research approach – recruit randomly according to quotas
    • Allow self-selection – active recruitment/ marketing of panel to encourage good mix of participants (less likely to be fully representative)
  • 5. Bristol City Council
    • 400,000 population
    • Good history of engagement through equality forums, petitions, consultation
    • Strong public representation at council/cabinet meetings
    • Online engagement started 2002
  • 6. Why e-participation?
    • Traditional methods of engagement mainly attractive to older, retired, white, middle class
    • To broaden input into local decision-making processes by making it easier
    • To create ongoing links with citizens
    • Evolve techniques of engagement to meet changing customer demands
  • 7. Developing a range of tools
    • Webcasting
    • Multimedia consultation tool
    • Local issues forums
    • Ask Bristol
    • E-petitions
    • Consultation Finder
    • Online surveys
    2008 2000
  • 8. Bristol’s e-panel: Askbristol
    • Citizens’ panel already established
    • Opted for neutral webspace
    • Website and recruitment started October 2004 – combination of promotion and market research – launched Jan 2005
    • Asked for best and worst things about Bristol – quotes used in marketing
    • Public launch for participants and media to hear about e-panel and first consultations
  • 9.  
  • 10. Consultation tools
    • Ask Bristol web space focus on online discussions – participants need to register before commenting but no pre-moderation
    • Provides database of interested people to promote online surveys, focus groups, other engagement activities
    • Also used live chat, deliberative polls, budget simulator
    • Multimedia incorporated Jan 2008
  • 11. Some of the issues
    • Service-led issues: waste and recycling
    • City priorities: smoke free Bristol, perceptions of alcohol, Best & Worst
    • Select committee evidence: future of Bristol’s libraries, climate change
    • Strategy development: city centre strategy
    • Planning issues: wind turbines, Colston Hall
  • 12. What worked well?
    • Online discussions:
    • Pre-strategy consultations. Particularly where broad-ranging issues eg city centre strategy
    • Select committee work – provided evidence that fed into committee
    • Surveys:
    • Where more focused – eg perceptions of alcohol, wind turbines
    • Deliberative poll – series of arguments looking at issue eg whether or not to control gulls
  • 13. What didn’t work as well?
    • Technical/complex issues – eg sustainable construction policy
    • Live chat – difficult to find the right time but potential there for right topic/targeted audience
    • Difficult to keep steady stream of online discussions going
    • Many departments prefer quantitative rather than qualitative feedback
  • 14. Managing the panel
    • Participants asked to complete sign-up form with some demographics (optional)
    • Discussion forum mainly council structured with clear closing dates and what’s next - but includes open forum
    • New comments checked at least daily – more often if lively debate (weekends/evenings)
    • Participants emailed to encourage to participate. Works best with regular updates
  • 15. Participants
    • Most give postcode so able to monitor geographical representation (fairly good)
    • Many give further demographics – initially successful with 25-50 year olds but many more older people in last year
    • Digital divide in poorer areas plus language/ cultural issues with some communities
    • Issues drive membership – street artist Banksy most successful recruitment issue
  • 16. Case study: Climate Change
    • Select Committee covered transport, home energy, council energy, planning issues
    • Ask Bristol discussions structured around committee meeting topics – provided evidence at each meeting
    • Ask Bristol members encouraged to watch webcast and given monthly update
    • Received 145 comments from 77 people and around 1500 webcast views
  • 17.  
  • 18. Climate change - feedback
    • ‘ I wished for my voice to be heard ~ This resource enabled this to happen. I also think this would be a good resource for other topic areas ’ – participant
    • ‘ Enables the committee/council to better reach it's audience and improve public involvement ’ - Councillor
    • Good vehicle for dynamic dialogue with the public/staff and not simply passive involvement/interest. Dialogue on: understanding the challenge and the response - Officer
  • 19. Local eDemocracy National Project
    • Bristol’s e-panel pilot as part of e-government programme
    • Other e-panel pilots to share knowledge and gain greater understanding
    • Funding for software, recruitment, developing training courses, project management
    • National project work ran April 2004–05: additional year promoting and marketing approach to other councils
  • 20. E-panel project aims
    • Understand how to recruit and engage citizens in ongoing consultation
    • Consider if possible to recruit balanced and representative sample
    • Make recommendations on how e-participation can be used to make citizen and community panels more democratically effective
    • Create opportunities for deliberation
  • 21. E-panel evaluation results (1)
    • E-panels can engage more and different citizens into local democracy but should not be used in isolation to traditional channels
    • Evaluation from Ask Bristol showed that 44% had not taken part in consultations by post or public meetings in the previous year
  • 22. E-panel evaluation results (2)
    • E-panels seem to be more attractive to hard to reach groups including time-poor and young people
    • Bristol participant says: “I …very much appreciate the accessibility offered by the web – I am usually at work when public meetings take place… I prefer on the whole to speak to people in person but …that is seldom feasible and Askbristol is the best alternative.”
  • 23. E-panel evaluation results (3)
    • Barriers to participation can be minimised by providing training and support through community organisations
    • The Black Country Knowledge Society carried out work as part of long-term educational programme that included putting computers in the homes of school children and providing training and support through UK online centres – focus on black and ethnic minority communities
  • 24. E-panel evaluation results (4)
    • Participants should be involved in deciding issues but topics also need useable results
    • Ask Bristol participants were asked to vote for their next topic for discussion and chose ‘cyclists: sinners or saints’ but felt let down by lack of direct outcome
  • 25. E-panel evaluation results (5)
    • Active and good moderation is key to success
    • Officers in St Albans felt that external moderators did not understand the subject and local area well enough which led to misguided debate
  • 26. Recruitment activities
    • Good:
    • Market research company –representative mix
    • Direct mail
    • Providing training through libraries/UK online centres etc
    • Council produced publications and website
    • Press coverage
    • Word of mouth
  • 27. What are we doing in Rodney?
    • Mainly random postal recruitment through property database
    • Aiming for 1,000+ citizens – quotas on location, age, gender, ethnicity
    • 3 or more surveys a year – will replace annual residents survey
    • Intend to establish online forums to complement – open to all
  • 28. Final thoughts..
    • Ask Bristol brand built since late 2004 – initially wanted arms length: advantages & disadvantages
    • Regular promotion of issues & communication of feedback and results key to success
    • Demographically representative is still tricky – need to consider local population & complementary activities
    • Lots of technology options - depends on objectives, budget and staff
    • Evaluation material at www.bristol.gov.uk/edemocracy