‘I had a question about a development in my street. Even though I found the answer, it took me a very long time. I wondered if there was a better way.’
Increasing population requires development and everyone needs to benefit from it. Development is not without risks and pain. Residents need to know how developments will affect them and governments and planners need to understand the community’s needs.
There is a lot of information available to residents about current and planned developments. It's a wall of information that quickly overwhelms you. Finding the information that is relevant to you is difficult. Too many, this is a barrier that is too high.
The current mechanisms to collect feedback from residents are slow and not accessible to all. The government and planners have to explain the complex balance of positives and negatives behind any development and this isn't easy. It would be much quicker to just talk to each person, but we can’t employ an army of people to consult everyone for every development that is proposed…………… or can we?
The problems are:
Residents want to:
• Find out what developments are happening in their local area
• Connect with people in their area
• Find out specific information about developments
Government and town planners want to:
• Work with the residents to plan for the future
• Get fast feedback on development
• Update residents about changes
We built a Facebook Messenger bot and hooked it up to development planning data. A text messaging interface is a natural way to search for information by using the familiar model of asking questions and receiving answers. It is a solution for the information overload about development. The Facebook platform naturally encourages and enables communities to connect so they can participate in planning decisions.
People can access information for any location and receive information that is relevant to them. Government and town planners can easily access community opinion about planned and potential developments.
There’s heaps of potential ways in which Fresh Plans can grow and develop. Here's just a few:
• Augmented reality simulations of potential developments to visualise how they fit into the landscape
• Use voice input to make the tool accessible to more people.
• Extend the platform to engage the community in more general policy decisions.