Can you help us reinvent the 'walkabout' for planning engagement?

by Michael Kohn on August 25, 2014
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On Sunday September 14th, we are sponsoring the beer and burgers at the Planning on the Roof party at Bootstrap in Dalston, organised by the Planning in the Pub crew. It's free to come along - simply sign up here:


A picture of the venue for Planning on the Roof Bootstrap Company Rooftop in Dalston: hope to see you there: Sunday 14th September

It's not just a late summer booze up. Yes we do have an ulterior motive. For those that can make it, in order to get your free beer and burger, we will simply ask you to help us test a new exciting version of Stickyworld that enables crowdsourcing of geolocated content from Twitter. This new version has emerged from our ongoing Neighbourhood Stickers project, funded by Nominet Trust, and we are really excited about the possibilities this can open up for wider planning engagement amongst other types of engagement.

We'll be posting more information about this ongoing research, but the project's main focus is to devise a digital means of organising local walkabouts with the aim of capturing visual and geo-located insights from the walkabout participants en route.

Once the content is captured, it is then made easy for engagement professionals to review, share and discuss these insights on Stickyworld. This could be either immediately afterwards with the same group of participant, or going forward to create a continuous and visual feedback channel for a particular place or neighbourhood, and growing this over time and engage more people.

The net result of this activity is hopefully to arrive at a simple digital means to engage wider groups of people, including younger people, in clear discussions on the planning of their area and to use the power of social media to create the discussion content and share this engagement opportunity.

For those that aren't aware, a "walkabout" (not to be confused with the rite of passage for male Australian Aborigines) is a popular learning and engagement tool of many planning engagement professionals in the UK. We are told by engagement professionals that these can be time consuming to organise, and usually the focus is in the "here-and-now" face to face activity. This is understandable, and the idea of archiving the walkabout photographically for others can become an additional time overhead for any individual organiser. So the potential of capturing the walkabout digitally is something that we believe can often be overlooked.

By encouraging the use of mobile phones by participants to capture photos and videos and/or comment en route, we think walkabouts can add extra value to any planning engagement project. In fact we think they can be deployed to co-create a digital archive of individual local perspectives by all the participants of the walkabout, which in turn offers the opportunity for the same group or others following on to engage in long form online discussions after the event. In doing this, the engagement activity immediately becomes more transparent and accessible to more people. Through this project we aim to enable double the learning and engagement value that can be created from any walkabout for any community, and including with young people.

But we do need to make this super easy for engagement professionals to learn how to set this up and run these in their area. Accordingly we are sponsoring this rooftop party on September 14th as part of our ongoing user research. If you cannot make it we'll be opening up to more projects with targeted groups later in the year.

To start with we are using Twitter as the mobile publisher, and importing Twitter content to a new version of Stickyworld. If this works well, we will extend it to use other popular apps like Instagram. We plan to release the new version of Stickyworld for everyone towards the end of the year.

More details on the new technology will follow. For now I hope you might simply be interested in coming along and giving us an hour of your time to test our early versions along with the Planning in the Pub crew. We'd then love to hear your feedback and ideas for improving this process, perhaps comment on Stickyworld to explain your Tweet, and hopefully we'll enjoy some nice weather on the rooftop bar of Bootstrap in Dalston. And we'll buy you a beer :).

There should be lots of other planning and place-making professionals from the Planning in the Pub network attending, but it's open to anyone free on the Sunday, interested in planning, place-making tech and engagement . If you are already using Stickyworld, or thinking about using Stickyworld, then we'd love to see you there. If you are working with specific groups of young people on current projects, and you are looking for digital tools, then your participation is of course a bonus, and you'll be able to try this out for real later in the year for free on any of your youth engagement projects.

Once again, click here to sign up for your free invite. I hope to see you there.

Topics: News