When the reality of COVID-19 really took effect in Australia in April we ran an article about how community engagement in a world with less face-to-face interaction doesn’t end. It just changes.
Since then we have been using a wide variety of techniques to continue engaging. These include online platforms such as Zoom, Cisco Webex, MS Teams and Poll Everywhere. These platforms contain many features such as break-out rooms, whiteboard functions and capturing participants’ views visually in real time with small group discussion and workshopping taking place in a virtual room.
Participants have also been willing to undertake activities prior to the online workshops to aid collection of input and add value to reflection during online discussions.
We have become really good at interpreting the rules and restrictions for COVID-19, conducting face-to-face events where we can. This usually means having lots of space and conducting activities so that people are not in close proximity to one another but can still work together and share ideas. This is not to mention lots of hand sanitiser and cleaning of textas and shared materials afterwards.
Some of the varied projects we have engaged on during the COVID-19 pandemic include:
- City of Playford Disability Access and Inclusion Plan
- Rural City of Murray Bridge Disability Access and Inclusion Plan
- Two different development sites for Anglicare aged care housing
- South Park Lands Stormwater Management Project
- Hope Valley Reservoir Community Reference Group
- MacDonnell Water Allocation Planning Working Group
- Review of the City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters CityPlan 2030
- Planning Day with People and Corporate Services from the Department for Infrastructure and Transport
- Defining Nature Education for Green Adelaide
- Mid North Sustainability Hub
The fundamentals of successful community engagement remain the same – it must be genuine, tailored to the project objectives and utilise varied techniques fit for the participants.
Clever planning and delivery by URPS enables the community engagement show to go on.