Memphis Residents Weigh in on Fairgrounds Redevelopment; Urban Land Institute Makes Recommendations on Moving Forward

Our recent project with the City of Memphis, TN garnered quite a bit of interest because the Fairgrounds site is an iconic element of Memphis culture. The city set a high bar for public participation to ensure that all voices were heard in the process of identifying how the space should be used going forward.

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Several consultant teams came together to offer their respective expertise in citizen engagement. The National Charrette Institute, in cooperation with PlaceMatters, hosted citywide community meetings, and UIS created an EngagingPlans platform that supplemented the meetings by providing online input opportunities.

As a result of these collaborations, the team collected more than 600 community responses on the Fairgrounds Survey, with more than 50% of those submitted via the EngagingPlans site. In particular, Memphis saw markedly more responses from young people in their late-20s and early-30s online than in person, giving the project team a more comprehensive look at community preferences than they might have had using only traditional engagement methods.

UIS also provided an Ideation Wall app from the EngagingPlans Suite to offer an online alternative to the traditional sticky note and flip chart brainstorming method that was used at community meetings. Without needing to be present at the meetings, users could submit ideas directly on the site and via SMS or Twitter hashtag. More than 200 suggestions were made, and they included everything from a new event venue and city park to sustainable urban agriculture, a rugby field, and even a Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Gathering public input was just one of the first steps on the road to redevelopment. The results of the engagement effort were shared with an advisory panel from the Urban Land Institute, which subsequently presented findings and recommendations related to development strategies and programs, land use and design, neighborhood connections, and financing and implementation. The overarching recommendation was to “preserve the purpose of the site as a regional public amenity,” including repurposing the coliseum to be a cultural events center, adding a sports and recreation complex and commercial water park, incorporating active and passive greenspace, and creating parking areas that can also be used for temporary markets.

We’re looking forward to seeing the Memphis Fairgrounds of the future, and are optimistic that the City’s residents, businesses and tourists will be excited by what comes next to this historic site.

Envision Longmont Blends Digital and Traditional Engagement Techniques at Community Kick-Off

Envision Longmont is an effort to update and integrate the Longmont Area Comprehensive Plan and the Longmont Multi-Modal Transportation Plan to form a policy guide for the City over the next ten to twenty years. The project includes a robust engagement and participation component that is supplemented by our EngagingPlans Core and App Suite.

On May 14, Envision Longmont hosted the first event in their Community Outreach Series. Hoping to go above and beyond the typical public meeting process, the team asked us to livestream the event so that citizens could watch from home or view the playback immediately afterward. This Vision and Values Workshop discussed prioritization of goals, offered an open brainstorm, and asked people to evaluate of areas of stability and change, activities that typically require face-to-face interaction between experts and citizens. To gain similar insights from community members who didn’t attend the event, the team used a Digital Workshop to translate the rich information and feedback opportunities into an intuitive online activity.

We’re particularly excited about this project because it incorporates the best of both in-person and digital engagement principles and opportunities. Stay tuned for more stories of creative engagement from Envision Longmont!


Ontario Citizens Use Community Mapping to Enhance Cycling Culture

London, Ontario is updating their Cycling Master Plan (CMP), which is a long-term vision for bike routes in the City.  The CMP will propose new routes that connect to existing pathways, and will develop programs, initiatives and policies that support and manage the City’s cycling culture.

London ON Bikes, the City’s name for this project, used EngagingPlans for public outreach and integrated Community Mapping from our App Suite to get more granular information about specific areas that are great or problematic for cyclists. Citizens can add photos and descriptions of places, and then rate and comment on other submissions, giving the City quality insight into how best to allocate resources to the future of cycling in London.


Students Envision New Campus Hub with Digital Workshop App


Union Court is the heart of the Australian National University campus, and the University is revitalizing the area to create a new hub for the ANU community. ANU envisions a village that is integrated with the campus and extends connections into the wider community, so the project is considering a variety of potential components like student life facilities, academic and research buildings, and spaces for entertainment and cultural events.

To engage students, faculty and staff in the visioning process, ANU used an EngagingPlans Core site and the Digital Workshop app to supplement a five-day live event  that offered pop-up kiosks for digital participation and an information booth with details on how to get involved in the project. The Digital Workshop incorporated elements like the vision for Union Court and its integration with campus life and the larger community, and the ANU team incentivized feedback by transforming activities into a competition with a live leaderboard populated by points earned for online participation. The EngagingPlans site also featured an integrated Instagram feed that used the hashtag #reimagineunioncourt to highlight the live event and related student photos.

The University now plans to develop an Urban Design Plan that draws on and addresses the preferences and concerns of the ANU community.

This isn't our first project with ANU: check out The Learnery, a digital opportunity for students to “cultivate the learning experience”.

Visitors help shape the Zoo of the Future

In early 2015, the Denver Zoo asked patrons and neighbors to help shape the "Zoo of the Future" by offering feedback on concepts for the new Facility Master Plan. The Master Plan guides future decisions related to animal needs, community experience and global partnerships, all in the interest of securing a better world for animals through human understanding.

Serving nearly 2 million guests annually and caring for 3,000 animals, the Zoo must consider factors like guest flow and parking inventory in addition to providing top-notch animal care when planning for the future. Zoo staff are considering a recent Facility Assessment, eight Guiding Principles and seven Site Planning Strategies as they develop the new Master Plan.

In order to gather community insights about priorities during this Master Planning process, UIS developed an interactive website using the Urban Design Feedback app from the EngagingPlans Suite. Users begin by ranking priorities related to educational opportunities, animal interactions, integration within the surrounding neighborhood, improvements for animals, and parking. Users are then directed to an interactive map of the draft master plan, complete with flags, photos and descriptions of new exhibit concepts.

Because the map is optimized for tablets and mobile phones, Zoo patrons can access it while they are on the campus, giving them firsthand insight into the proposed changes and how they might impact visitor experience. After reading background information and viewing renderings of the exhibits, users can rate each design and submit their feedback for Zoo staff to consider. The Zoo incentivized participation by offering giveaways like general admission passes, special event tickets and even a few annual memberships.