Where’s the Disconnect?Analyzing barriers to web-based e-participation tools for planningCullen Meves
Research Purpose and Goals Track current use of e-participation tools in planning Planning & Community Development Depar...
Research Purpose and Goals Identify trends for how e-participation tools are beingutilized based on: Population size Re...
Research Methods Literature Review Extensive review ofbenchmark studies Online Survey 349 respondents Phone Interview...
e-Participation: Information Sharing ToolsSource: http://www.archuletacounty.org/index.aspx?nid=93
e-Participation: Information Gathering ToolsSource: http://www.hawaiicountycdp.info/puna-cdp/take-the-pahoa-regional-town-...
e-Participation: Collaborative ToolsSource: http://speakupaustin.org/ideas
Information and Services available on PlanningDepartment WebsitesSource: (Evans-Cowley et al., 2011)
Growth Patterns of Selected Web 2.0 DevelopmentsSource: (Pascu et al., 2008)
GROWTH PATTERNS OF PEER-TO-PEER TECHNOLOGIESPlanning Departments need to be involved in the dialogue.Source: (Pascu et al....
THE DISCUSSION IS HAPPENING ELSEWHERESource: http://www.ibrattleboro.com/
SurveyCombined Total of Countyand Places for eachPopulation Segment in theU.S. and Associated SampleSizePopulation Segment...
Characteristics ofSurvey RespondentsStates Represented 45 Jurisdiction BreakdownCity 220Region A Breakdown County 76Alaska...
Characteristics ofDepartmentsInterviewedJurisdiction Population Range Region Funding Level Priority LevelCounty 3,000-20,0...
Survey and Interview Results
Q5How does your departmentshare electronic outputwith the public?All examples of information sharing tools. Individual pro...
Q6How does your departmentreceive electronic inputfrom the public?Combination of information gathering tools and collabora...
Q7How are your publicmeetings and presentationsavailable to the public,other than by attending inperson?Surprising respons...
Q8In the following table,please indicate how oftenyour department uses eachweb-based method forproviding public access tot...
Interview ResponsesDepartment Website’s Visibility1) Have you tried any methods for publicizing web-based participation in...
Interview ResponsesDepartment Website’s Current Information Dissemination and Maintenance1) Are updates to the information...
Interview ResponsesExternal Barriers to Web-based Interactive Tools1) According to the Pew Research Center Study on Online...
Interview ResponseDepartment Website’s Interactive Capabilities1) What do you find is the most difficult part of maintaini...
Q9In the following table,please indicate howstrongly you feel eachdescription limitsincorporation of web-based, e-particip...
Q10Please list any other limitingfactors that yourdepartment hasencountered that were notaddressed in the precedingtable.1...
Q12How high of a priority foryour department isincorporating web-based, e-participation tools into thepublic participation...
CHI-SQUARE TEST RESULTS FOR PRIORITY LEVEL AND FUNDING LEVELSChi-Square TestsValue dfAsymp. Sig. (2-sided)Pearson Chi-Squa...
Chi-Square TestResultsPearson Chi-Square Valuesfor Priority Level asDependent CharacteristicIndependentCharacteristicDepen...
Interview ResultsDepartment Website’s Interactive Capabilities4) Have you noticed any correlation between the way the info...
Conclusions Provided an additionalbenchmark study for apreviously unstudied area Identified four majorbarriers Inadequa...
Conclusions Interviews provided greaterdepth of insight intonuances of barriers No obvious trends havedeveloped with reg...
Where’s the disconnect? Analyzing barriers to web-based e-participation tools for planning
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Where’s the disconnect? Analyzing barriers to web-based e-participation tools for planning

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Online interactions, collaborations, and user-generated content are increasing at an exponential rate, and the rapid adoption of these Web 2.0 applications is putting an ever increasing pressure on public entities to adapt and adopt. Governing bodies are exploring the benefits and possibilities of Web 2.0 applications, and are developing strategies for integration into the public process. Previous studies have researched the promising use of these tools in planning and community development departments serving the largest cities in the United States. Relatively little study has been done on the use and incorporation of these tools in planning and community development departments that serve smaller, less densely populated areas; areas that by their remote or sparsely populated nature could benefit greatly from easily accessed information exchange. The purpose of this work is to provide a benchmark study for how online, e-participation tools are currently used within planning and community development departments serving communities of 100,000 in population or less. The research also analyzes the demographic characteristics of the populations served by the departments using e-participation tools to explore developing trends in use. Finally, the study examines current barriers for incorporation of these tools into public processes, and attempts to offer developing and future solutions to these barriers. The goal of this research is to help planning departments serving relatively small populations make informed choices as how to best incorporate web-based, e-participation tools into their public process and daily functions.

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  • - You will notice from the tone of my paper, my specific focus and interest is on the current state of collaborative e-participation tools
  • - This was done to help suggest effective tools based on results
  • First things first- definitions
  • Nearly 100% web presence, for larger planning departments, this has been true in 2004
  • Creative apportionment based on skewed divisions Understand why departments study larger population centers Sample ended up accounting for only 7.8% of identified areas, further unknown of how many of these have planning staff or departments Fairly even response rate across population segments, good for comparison
  • - Even distribution across all categories
  • No representative from 80,000-100,000 segment No representative from Southwest
  • Lots of data collected for this report, I will be injecting my observations and conclusions through the analysis presentationShort wrap up at the end
  • - First few questions simple established if/how the department had a web presence, between 82% and 96%, equal to previous studiesThen questions about how the web is used to engage the public Because this is a fairly new topic, the survey was intentionally setup to introduce the respondent to the topic and then asked more involved questions
  • - Similar to previous studies, use drops off for these tools
  • Notice all of the blueLegal requirements seem to make their way fasterUse of independent websites again has an interesting useLive streaming video is either used all of the time or never
  • Almost just as likely to say it’s a low priority as a high priority.
  • Low budgets right now may have an effect on priority level
  • - Ran this analysis on Q8 (tools used) & Q9 (barriers) too, no glaring trends- Population density does seem to have association with some of the factors, but not so consistently that I would feel comfortable drawing a definite conclusion
  • These responses give me hope Sense that respondents have an understanding of how to use the internet to its full advantage Breadth of responses to the last question is refreshing. No correlation to the size of the department. Still looking forward.
  • Where’s the disconnect? Analyzing barriers to web-based e-participation tools for planning

    1. 1. Where’s the Disconnect?Analyzing barriers to web-based e-participation tools for planningCullen Meves
    2. 2. Research Purpose and Goals Track current use of e-participation tools in planning Planning & Community Development Departments servingpopulations of 100,000 or less Benchmark study of which tools and how often Identify barriers to further incorporation of e-participation tools Barriers identified through literature review, personalexperience, and survey/interview responses Solutions suggested based on research, interviewresponse, and personal experience
    3. 3. Research Purpose and Goals Identify trends for how e-participation tools are beingutilized based on: Population size Regional location Level of government Population density Mean age of population Median age of population
    4. 4. Research Methods Literature Review Extensive review ofbenchmark studies Online Survey 349 respondents Phone Interviews 8 respondents Survey Results Analysis Included Chi Square TestAnalysisSource: Image created by C. Meves
    5. 5. e-Participation: Information Sharing ToolsSource: http://www.archuletacounty.org/index.aspx?nid=93
    6. 6. e-Participation: Information Gathering ToolsSource: http://www.hawaiicountycdp.info/puna-cdp/take-the-pahoa-regional-town-center-plan-online-survey-here
    7. 7. e-Participation: Collaborative ToolsSource: http://speakupaustin.org/ideas
    8. 8. Information and Services available on PlanningDepartment WebsitesSource: (Evans-Cowley et al., 2011)
    9. 9. Growth Patterns of Selected Web 2.0 DevelopmentsSource: (Pascu et al., 2008)
    10. 10. GROWTH PATTERNS OF PEER-TO-PEER TECHNOLOGIESPlanning Departments need to be involved in the dialogue.Source: (Pascu et al., 2008)
    11. 11. THE DISCUSSION IS HAPPENING ELSEWHERESource: http://www.ibrattleboro.com/
    12. 12. SurveyCombined Total of Countyand Places for eachPopulation Segment in theU.S. and Associated SampleSizePopulation Segment Total% of PreviousSegmentSampleSize% ofPreviousSegmentFinalResponseRateTotal 10,840 8473,000-20,000 7,779 71.76% 500 59.03% 39.60%20,001-40,000 1,764 22.68% 200 40.00% 41.50%40,001-60,000 694 39.34% 79 39.50% 45.57%60,001-80,000 373 53.75% 42 53.16% 35.71%80,001-100,000 230 61.66% 26 61.90% 42.31%The final response rate was fairly consistent across all population segments
    13. 13. Characteristics ofSurvey RespondentsStates Represented 45 Jurisdiction BreakdownCity 220Region A Breakdown County 76Alaska/Pacific 4 Town 28Midwest 101 Village 19Northeast 33Southeast 86Southwest 20 Population Range BreakdownWest 99 3,000-20,000 19820,001-40,000 83Region B Breakdown 40,001-60,000 36Central Plaines 18 60,001-80,000 15Great Lakes 80 80,001-100,000 11Mid Atlantic 22Northeast 22Pacific 33 Other Demographic RangesPacific Alaska 37 Population Density (peopleper sq mi)2 - 18,229Rocky Mountain 39Southeast 73 Median Household Income $20,379 - $203,438Southwest 19 Median Age 22.7 - 57.2Excellent representation in across all studied characteristics
    14. 14. Characteristics ofDepartmentsInterviewedJurisdiction Population Range Region Funding Level Priority LevelCounty 3,000-20,000 West $0 Very LowCounty 3,000-20,000 Southeast $0 HighVillage 3,000-20,000 Southeast Do not know Very LowCity 3,000-20,000 Southeast No response No responseCity 20,001-40,000 Midwest Do not know HighCounty 20,001-40,000 Northeast $1-$2,000 NeutralCity 40,001-60,000 West $2,000-$5,000 NeutralCounty 60,001-80,000 Midwest Do not know HighSelected interviewees to represent a range of reported priority levels
    15. 15. Survey and Interview Results
    16. 16. Q5How does your departmentshare electronic outputwith the public?All examples of information sharing tools. Individual project websites were second after email alerts.
    17. 17. Q6How does your departmentreceive electronic inputfrom the public?Combination of information gathering tools and collaborative tools. Note the significant drop off in use rates.
    18. 18. Q7How are your publicmeetings and presentationsavailable to the public,other than by attending inperson?Surprising response rate for departments offering online live-streaming video.
    19. 19. Q8In the following table,please indicate how oftenyour department uses eachweb-based method forproviding public access tothis material.Very low use rates for all collaborative e-participation tools.
    20. 20. Interview ResponsesDepartment Website’s Visibility1) Have you tried any methods for publicizing web-based participation initiatives?Yes 3 No 4 Planned in the Future 1Announced a public meetings 2 Included in published information 3Targeted Mailing 1 Press Release 2If yes, what avenues have you tried for publicizing web-based participation initiatives, and which have been most effective?Postcard mailings, Providing headline updates on website, Including the URLs in every Press Release, Press Releases aboutinitiatives in general2) What types of web-based outlets have you used to engage the public?Department Website 7 Online Surveys 1 Project Website 2Online Video of Meetings 2 Social Media 1Departments that had publicized their website(s) said they noticed the results of this effort.
    21. 21. Interview ResponsesDepartment Website’s Current Information Dissemination and Maintenance1) Are updates to the information provided on the web-site handled within the department or by an outside source?Within Department 5 Outside Source 2 Both 1If the website is maintained by an outside source, how much interaction does the department have with this source?Very Little 3If the website is maintained by an outside source, do you see this as a barrier to incorporating more interactive tools into thedepartment website?Yes 1 No 1 Unsure 12) How much time a week does a staff member devote to maintaining and updating planning related news for the website ortransmitting information to the web-developer?0-2 Hours 6 2-5 Hours 1 5+ Hours 0 NA 13) Do you see the time element of updating these outlets as barrier to using more web-based interactive tools?Yes 4 No 4 NA 0The majority of departments were handling website updates within the department.
    22. 22. Interview ResponsesExternal Barriers to Web-based Interactive Tools1) According to the Pew Research Center Study on Online Government conducted in 2009, “Two in five home broadband users(39%) prefer online contact when trying to reach government, compared with 23% of home dial-up users.”[1] Do you know howmany residents within your community have broadband access?50% or Greater 2 Less than 50% 3 Do not know 3Do you see this as a limiting factor for engaging the public through online tools?Yes 6 No 22) Are there language or disability barriers for residents using the tools on the department’s website?Language Barriers Disability BarriersYes 7 No 1 Yes 0 No 4Do not know 0 Do not know 43) Have you encountered learning curve issues for individuals wishing to use available interactive tools?Yes 6 No 2 Do not knowNote: Most departments made reference to the fact that their population consisted of a large elderly population whendiscussing learning curve issues of interactive tools.
    23. 23. Interview ResponseDepartment Website’s Interactive Capabilities1) What do you find is the most difficult part of maintaining or updating these websites?Using the Wedpage Platform 3Keeping information up to date 1Finding time to update the page 3Interfacing with website technician 2Gathering and formatting data for the website 2Have not had difficulties 12) Have you had issues with the anonymity aspect of web-based commenting and forums, as in finding more negativity orinappropriateness in web-based comments and postings?Yes 2 No 5 NA 13) Would having an identity/email based login to the commenting area of the website help with this issue?Yes 5 No 2 NA 1A wide variety of issues were cited when asked about difficulties maintaining department websites.
    24. 24. Q9In the following table,please indicate howstrongly you feel eachdescription limitsincorporation of web-based, e-participation toolsinto the public participationprocess.Limited budgets had the highest percentage of “extremely limits use” votes, while limited staff time had the highest percentageof combined votes for “extremely limits use” and “somewhat limits use.”
    25. 25. Q10Please list any other limitingfactors that yourdepartment hasencountered that were notaddressed in the precedingtable.16%15%10%7%4%7%7%3%7%2%22% BudgetStaff LimitationsStaff TrainingNo DemandLow ParticipationNo LeadershipLegal IssuesOutsider Response RiskDemographic IssuesAnonimityOtherOnce again, limited budgets had the highest number of references for this open response question.
    26. 26. Q12How high of a priority foryour department isincorporating web-based, e-participation tools into thepublic participationprocess?0 20 40 60 80 100 1201- Very Low2- Low3- Neutral4- High5- Very HighExcept for the response of “very high,” the response distribution for this question was fairly even.
    27. 27. CHI-SQUARE TEST RESULTS FOR PRIORITY LEVEL AND FUNDING LEVELSChi-Square TestsValue dfAsymp. Sig. (2-sided)Pearson Chi-Square 36.894a 4 .000Likelihood Ratio 33.928 4 .000Linear-by-Linear Association 28.400 1 .000N of Valid Cases 271a. 0 cells (.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expectedcount is 7.89.Priority level and funding level for e-participation tools have an very strong, statistically significant association.
    28. 28. Chi-Square TestResultsPearson Chi-Square Valuesfor Priority Level asDependent CharacteristicIndependentCharacteristicDependentCharacteristicPearson Chi-Square Value dfAsymp.Sig NoteRegion Priority Level 6.962 4 0.138 0 cells (.0%) have expected count lessthan 5. The minimum expected count is27.91Jurisdiction Priority Level 2.765 2 0.251 0 cells (.0%) have expected count lessthan 5. The minimum expected count is20.54Population Range Priority Level 1.286 6 0.972 0 cells (.0%) have expected count lessthan 5. The minimum expected count is6.75Population Density Priority Level 3.496 4 0.479 0 cells (.0%) have expected count lessthan 5. The minimum expected count is29.26Median Income Priority Level 6.823 4 0.146 1 cells (11.1%) have expected count lessthan 5. The minimum expected count is4.80Median Age Priority Level 2.777 2 0.249 0 cells (.0%) have expected count lessthan 5. The minimum expected count is31.89Respondent Title Priority Level 4.904 2 0.086 0 cells (.0%) have expected count lessthan 5. The minimum expected count is32.65Priority level demonstrated no other statistically significant associations with any of the other characteristics studied.
    29. 29. Interview ResultsDepartment Website’s Interactive Capabilities4) Have you noticed any correlation between the way the information is presented on the website and the amount of traffic andinteraction it receives (i.e. a PDF of a report vs. an illustrated poster or guide vs. a 3D or virtual representation)?Yes 6 No 0 NA 15) What would you say has been the most effective presentational mode for information presented on the website?Brief reports or summaries of the information 2A mix of reports and visual information 4Having a headline for updated information on the homepage 1NA 16) Do you see providing live-streaming video of public meetings on the website as a viable option in the future?Yes 5 No 2 Already doing this 17) Which web-based interactive tools do you see as having the greatest benefit to your department and your community?Online application forms 2Using a program like MindMixer 2Using the website as a depository for information 1Using Social Media 2Visualization tools like maps and 3D representations 2The responses demonstrate a breadth of understanding and forward thinking for e-participation tools that was not expected.
    30. 30. Conclusions Provided an additionalbenchmark study for apreviously unstudied area Identified four majorbarriers Inadequate budgets Staff time Staff training Learning curve for thepublicFuture developments in user-friendliness of platforms and user experience may naturally reduce the barrier level of some ofthese challenges.
    31. 31. Conclusions Interviews provided greaterdepth of insight intonuances of barriers No obvious trends havedeveloped with regards tocharacteristics studied Possible new trends insurvey responses Increased use of projectwebsites High levels of video streaming Higher than expected techsavvy-nessThe comfort level of planners in their use and interaction with web-based tools demonstrated a higher affinity than wasexpected.

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