Citizens of Southern Nevada give online feedback for draft of regional plan

Southern Nevada Strong”, a collaborative regional planning effort, seeks to build a foundation for long-term economic success and community livelihood by better integrating reliable transportation, quality housing, and job opportunities. To achieve these goals, citizen feedback is considered a key asset in drafting the final plan.

The Problem:

Planning documents like the one put forth by Southern Nevada Strong can be hard for the average citizen to read and understand, let alone respond to. Published as unresponsive PDF files, these documents are usually read by only a handful of the population - leaving the planners with little informed feedback. Southern Nevada Strong sought a better way to present their documents to the public.

The Solution:

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The BrightPages app from UIS brings documents to life, making them interactive so people can easily explore, zoom, search, and respond to the information. For Southern Nevada Strong, the multi-page document is broken into sections, so users can easily navigate to information they care about. A response box on the same page makes it simple to provide feedback on the document with questions like “What items in this chapter should be the region’s priorities?” or provide a rating.

Besides reading the actual document, users can browse summaries of each chapter, highlighted by infographic elements, charts, key quotes from the document, and other helpful tools to make the points memorable. Giving feedback is much easier when the information is easy to digest and understand.

The Result:

Southern Nevada Strong has published a planning document that makes citizens and stakeholders a part of the conversation. With feedback opportunities right beside the document, public responses will be more frequent and more informed. Those are the key ingredients to a successful final draft. Meanwhile, the region also gains a reputation for communicating well with residents and making information available in a meaningful format.

In this day and age, it’s a surprising that so many documents are still published in a static format using decade-old technology. But, organizations like Southern Nevada Strong are stepping up to bring their documents into the 21st century, and are reaping the benefits.

4 Steps to Highly Engaging Plan Documents - it's easier than you think

Plan documents. You know the type - long, squinty PDFs that take forever to download and even longer to read. Agencies want to share their plans and priorities with the public, but dry analyses and static scenario plans are typically not at the top of anyone's reading list, and they certainly don't provide opportunity for feedback. What's a community to do?

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We figured there HAD to be a better way to publish dynamic content online, without breaking the budget or creating an IT headache. So we came up with 4 key elements of highly engaging plan documents - the kind of documents that will stick in the minds of your audience and turn average citizens into informed participants. Several communities have already discovered the benefit of presenting their content in a playful, interactive format that allows audiences to discover and respond freely - all within one online experience, whether at home or on the go. It's time for plan documents to join the 21st century and become as engaging as the other types of information the public ingests every day. Here's how to do it.

This Valentines Day, fall in love with public engagement all over again

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Taking part in the building of awesome communities - you know you love it. Join us at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference this weekend and enjoy a dynamic mix of breakouts, workshops, networking, and tours of local model projects. It's Feb. 13-15 in beautiful downtown Denver - what better place to renew your passion for building better places through public engagement? 

We hope to see you there - and don't forget to stop by the Tech Fair on Friday, where you can browse the latest tools for scenario planning and public engagement. We'll be introducing our shiny new app for content-centric engagement, BrightPages. It helps you publish your static text, maps, and data in a super-digestible, interactive way that grabs the attention of your audience, AND allows for easy participation. We're more than a little excited about it, so stop by and say hello, and ask us how BrightPages can be put to work for your projects. We want to hear your ideas too - because we love public engagement as much as you do!

Citizens of East Tennessee are invited to "play" with online plan documents

Who actually reads an entire plan document? Not many people, because the traditional presentation of a plan - even if it’s put online - is often wordy, long, and technical. In 2014, people expect more than a clunky PDF from their governing bodies and planning organizations. People want to have their curiosity piqued and their feedback requested. In short, people want to be engaged.

Plan East Tennessee (PlanET), a partnership of communities investing in the improvement of the Eastern region of the state, realized that their presentation of ideas would get better traction if presented in a playful format that allowed citizens to learn and explore through content discovery. PlanET had lots of great information to share, but it was all tied up in static PDFs like this one - which didn’t leave a lasting impression or invite feedback. There had to be a better option.

So PlanET built their new Regional Playbook on our recently released BrightPages app, featuring a building-block format that can include interactive text, questions, and feedback options. The new Playbook presents information in easily digestible bits, highlighted by compelling infographics. The natural curiosity of the audience guides them to click through to more details about topics that matter to them, making it simple to get an overall feel for the project and find interesting content with ease.

What about feedback? While the old PDF had no way to engage citizens, the new Playbook is fully interactive, featuring trivia questions and other opportunities for citizen input. For example, instead of just “talking at” citizens about issues and initiatives, each page of the Playbook includes an opinion box with questions like “What’s missing?” or “What’s currently happening that is relevant?” Questions like these can help PlanET get more focused responses from the public, leading to a better development of the final plan.

By deploying BrightPages, PlanET was able to bring their plan documents to life, inviting exploration of the subject and encouraging citizens to discover information instead of just reading it. This is a “document” that will stick in the minds of users, and provides PlanET with valuable input from the public.

Introducing BrightPages: The best thing to happen to your complex content since … well, ever.

                              BrightPages makes your content shine!

                              BrightPages makes your content shine!

It’s a new year and time for new ventures! Time to shake things up and get creative. To that end, we’ve merged some of our best products into a single multi-use platform that will change the way you think about publishing information and collecting feedback. It’s content-based engagement - allowing you to communicate complex topics in a fun and intuitive way, while collecting various types of feedback … on any device.

Yes, it really does all that - and it’s easy to use, too. We are super excited to introduce you to BrightPages - your online content at its brightest.

DynamicDocs + FlipSides + InfoGames + Magic = BrightPages

We’ve already seen great success with DynamicDocs (transforming static documents into interactive online content), FlipSides (educating audiences about the trade-offs of a project through interactive games), and the former InfoGames (informing users through playful presentation while also gathering feedback). We’ve noticed how these platforms overlap and support one another in practical use on various types of projects. So we rolled them together into a single humdinger of an app - one that will help you get the word out and get people talking, no matter your industry or audience.

Here’s what you can do with BrightPages:

Publish rich, interactive content instead of boring PDFs. A configurable grid system lets you build infographic-style pages that can handle video embeds, animated charts, interactive maps, quizzes, and more - just plug in your content and watch it come to life for your audience! No more long download times, static maps, or fuzzy PDFs. Users can even share your dynamic content through their social networks, so you reach a broader audience.

Gather various types of quality feedback. Discussion questions, surveys, and other feedback tools can be placed right inside your published content, making it easy for your audience to share their opinions. Invite stakeholders to annotate and collaborate on draft documents, or enable commenting for broader feedback. BrightPages eliminates the need for separate discussion forums, bringing the conversations right alongside your published content.

Educate, inform, and interact with your audience. Take your information beyond text, creating a journey of discovery for your audience. Set up an interactive game, inviting users to explore different possible scenarios for your plan or proposal. Insert links to lead them to further information, and hold their attention with eye-catching infographics. BrightPages applies today’s technology to your plans and reports, so users can experience your information in the same way they experience other online content.

Like all UIS platforms, BrightPages is mobile accessible, so stakeholders can use it at home, at work, or on the go. And it’s flexible enough to be used for an array of projects across industries - reports and plans, draft reviews, public consultation, open houses, scenario planning, and more. The possibilities are as diverse as the projects and clients we work with.

So, welcome to BrightPages. We can't wait to see it in action.