Mobility & Transportation
Inclusion & Cohesion

An Effective Community Engagement Plan that Involved 45000+ Residents: An Example from Jalisco

August 29, 2023
Reading Time:
{{ reading-time }}
No items found.

How can a solid community engagement plan help a government to engage more than 45.000 participants in discussing a transportation issue? The Secretariat of Citizen Participation and Planning of the State of Jalisco, Mexico boiled it up to three elements:

  1. creating an inclusive participation methodology,
  2. involving a wide range of stakeholders and municipal actors, and
  3. using Maptionnaire — their digital citizen engagement platform of choice. 

This citizen engagement project gave the government a wealth of information for preparing a multidimensional solution to the transportation problem around López Mateos Avenue. Let’s unpack the citizen engagement plan used in Jalisco and how it enabled the administration to engage so many people in one project. 

Collaborative Solutions for a Complex Transportation Issue

López Mateos Avenue cuts through three metropolitan municipalities, connecting, one one end, the southern entrance to the state, which leads to one of the most important commercial ports of the country, with the regional capital Guadalajara, on the other. The 34 kilometers of the avenue are a part of the daily commute for around 131.000 people (most of whom use private cars), not to mention multiple cargo vehicles that ply between the port and the city. 

No wonder López Mateos, an important commercial route constantly packed with traffic, also attracted political attention. A suggestion has been made to expand the avenue by building another level above the existing route — a populist action that would not alleviate congestion and is not economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable. 

The Secretary of Citizen Participation and Planning of the State was assigned to find a more viable and sustainable solution to the avenue problem than the one that was rumored about. And the team didn’t start with single-handedly throwing bold ideas onto the table: they prioritized collaboration with other teams from the affected municipalities, as well as institutes and other public and private organizations. Together, they worked on creating an engagement methodology, implementing participatory activities, and drafting solutions based on the received feedback. 

In this project, citizen engagement became the core of the decision-making process. It was crucial to understand the reality of this avenue — how residents, communities, and stakeholders experience López Mateos and what they think about it — before even drafting potential solutions. 

an infographic showing what Jalisco has achieved with its community engagement plan

Inclusive Multimodal Community Engagement Plan

To create this wide dialog with as many people as possible, Jalisco designed a complex engagement plan. The engagement phase lasted for several months and included five modalities. Firstly, people could submit research, technical proposals, guidelines, or any existing document, contributing to the Non-Participative Observing Research. 

After that, the other four modalities were activated to enable people from any given reality to share their ideas and experiences. People essentially answered the same questions — but they had different opportunities to participate.

Participating via Maptionnaire, online community engagement platform  

The Secretary team created a map-based survey where residents answered a series of questions about their experiences of the avenue, how they use it, and what improvements they can suggest. In the end, most of the residents participated via Maptionnaire because they could fill in the survey from their own devices at any time without the need to travel for a meeting.

Answering the quick survey at the stoplights

Road Safety police surveyed drivers at 32 stop lights along the avenue. They used a simple checkbox questionnaire, identifying the type of vehicle, how many people are inside, where they are heading, and why. Respondents could also propose an intervention to make the avenue better that a police officer would take note of. 

Attending assemblies 

Locals and stakeholders attended dialog tables where they discussed López Mateos and brought up suggestions. It was crucial to organize these dialogues for all the stakeholders, including, for example, police workers, schools and universities along the avenue, transportation organizations, NGOs, and developers.

Answering a survey in-person

The municipal departments in charge of Citizen Participation in collaboration with the Institute of Statistical and Geographical Information had people on their teams visit a randomized sample of homes in 200 neighborhoods and ask questions about the avenue. 

a map showing Lopez Mateos Avenue around which the engagement activities took place

This versatility of engagement methods ensured that residents and stakeholders of distinct profiles were engaged in the process. Because not everyone can come to an in-person assembly and not everyone who experienced the avenue used the car. However, the questions residents answered were the same throughout all modalities, whether digital or analog. This way, the citizen participation team received the information in more or less the same format, making it easier to work with the data. 

What’s more, the team organizing public engagement also carefully planned out the engagement strategy to ensure that people know about these activities and understand how they can impact the project. The QR codes to the Maptionnaire survey appeared on multiple banners in malls and other places of interest. The team also actively participated in public talks and interviews, spreading the news about the engagement opportunities. The map-based survey was also promoted on social media and in a local newspaper. 

Maptionnaire as a Citizen Engagement Platform of Choice 

Maptionnaire ideally fits the needs of this project — the digital platform makes it easy to engage thousands of people with custom-made interactive map-based surveys. Altogether, over 35,000 people completed the Maptionnaire survey, and this number speaks for itself.

Since the project is about people’s mobility and interactions with the environment, it is crucial to collect the information about specific locations. With Maptionnaire, all the data comes in a GIS location-based format. The service comes with onboarding and extensive support, so all the users within the organization get a chance to try the platform out. Another aspect of Maptionnaire proved to be useful: you could make changes to a survey even if it’s already active — the link always stays the same.

What has especially impressed the Secretariat of Citizen Participation and Planning is the opportunity to filter the obtained data on Maptionnaire Platform itself. They could investigate how the answer differs for various demographics and create heatmaps, graphs, and map-based visualizations of different data. These features also made it easy to create weekly reports on how the data collection with Maptionnaire is progressing and present them to stakeholders. 

I was really excited about using the platform because of how you can organize the information and you can use the filters.
Celia Andrea Ramirez Arechiga, the Secretariat of Citizen Participation and Planning, State of Jalisco

Over 45000 Engaged Residents and Stakeholders

The thorough community engagement plan and a combination of digital and in-person, synchronous and asynchronous engagement opportunities resulted in 46,124 people engaging in the process and sharing their experiences and ideas with the government. Altogether, over 58,000 people got interested in the process (if you count also those who started the survey but didn’t finish it).

There was a lot of diversity in participation, especially when it comes to age. Maptionnaire helped the government to reach the younger and more tech-savvy citizens, while more traditional door-to-door and stop light surveys brought additional demographics on board. 

Also, it was mainly men (59%) who answered the survey online, while the 53% of the respondents of door-to-door questionnaires identified themselves as women. But it doesn’t mean that digital engagement is less suitable for a specific gender: it depends a lot on the context and gendered roles common in a specific community. For example, in Kosovo, Maptionnaire created a whole new opportunity for women to participate digitally and influence their built environment, while it was mainly men who dominated in-person community meetings. Importantly, the participation methods should be diverse and localized to attract as diverse a population as possible. 

an infographic showing the number of participants in Jalisco's community engagement program

Information Obtained through Citizen Engagement 

Overall, this multimodal citizen engagement helped Jalisco to understand how different people move through the avenue and why. 

“Why haven’t you thought about changing transportation?” This question brought a lot of insights for planners: some residents (especially those in a door-to-door survey) don't even know that other forms of transportation are available other than a private car. Other answers included public transport being inconvenient or stops being located too far away from their destination. These learnings open an opportunity for planners to make public transportation options more accessible and, importantly, visible for locals, as well as enhance the outreach about these travel modes. 

In most cases, there was only one person in a car, also among those traveling to work. This data immediately sparked an idea to work with enterprises situated along the avenue on setting up employee transportation or carpooling programs. 

Another problem that is commonly pointed out by commuters is the high number of traffic accidents and congestion caused due to them. Therefore, a set of measures is drafted to increase traffic safety, and a new system for handling traffic accidents is proposed. 

Especially with the help of the Maptionnaire Platform, the planning team gained crucial information about the journeys, including the modality, starting point, destination point, and where locals change the mode of transport. This data is location-based and is fairly easy to map out and export to other software. For example, this information directly feeds into the proposal for expanding the public transportation network. 

a map about journeys obtained from maptionnaire
A map showing the routes taken via the avenue as mapped by respondents via Maptionnaire. The platform presents the data in a GIS format, making it possible for in-depth analysis and visualizations on Maptionnaire or any other GIS platform of choice

The Challenges of Engaging Residents  

While the citizen engagement activities in Jalisco are extremely successful in their quality and outreach, there are still some challenges that the Secretariat of Citizen Participation and its partners had to overcome.

Locals are not used to collaborating with the government on similar projects. So the planners had to, first of all, increase the trustworthiness of the campaign and, secondly, explain why local opinions matter. For instance, in all of their outreach activities they had to emphasize that the consultation is not about a decision that has already been made. On the contrary, its purpose is to know what experiences and ideas citizens have, and experts will use this local knowledge and suggestion for making a proposal. 

Another difficulty stems from the fact that a lot of regional, municipal, and state authorities are interested in the project. The Secretary worked hard to involve all these different stakeholders in the consultation process. And in the end it paid off: it made the adoption of the proposals easier since the process was already known to multiple governmental stakeholders.

The Proposal Based on Citizen Experiences 

It was clear from the start that López Mateos doesn’t pose only a transportation problem — it is a multidimensional challenge for all communities involved, and it requires interdisciplinary solutions. The experiences and ideas from residents validated this approach and provided more depth and insights on which the proposal is based. All of the results were thoroughly reviewed by the technical teams of several Secretariats such as Public Work, Transportation, Security, Education, Economic Development and the Metropolitan Institute of Planning and Development Managing with the Governor himself across several team meetings to ensure the intervention responded as a whole and not as individual solutions.

The proposal consists of six components since no single intervention can address the multiplicity of challenges and factors. Here they are:   

  • expanding the public transport network, improving interconnectivity and frequency, and introducing alternate public transport routes; 
  • extending the subway line by 9 stations to offer an alternative travel option; 
  • introducing better traffic management and urban acupuncture (modules for traffic police along the route, better signage, improved safety, better crossings, safer cycling roads);
  • enhancing legal enforcement;
  • improving planning and territorial ordering (e.g., not allowing for development without ensuring sufficient public transportation);
  • promoting sustainable road culture and new ways of thinking about moving around (e.g., carsharing, public transport).

Another crucial result of such an extensive engagement program is the forging of shared responsibility for the problem and, importantly, for finding a solution to it. The engagement activities, strategic outreach, and regular feedback loops to locals and stakeholders ensured a sense of collaboration among them. 

The Secretariat of Citizen Participation and Planning of the State of Jalisco is happy with the results of this citizen engagement project – it not only provided insights for this particular project but also strengthened the local community as such. Maptionnaire will also be used on their next project with a similar multimodal methodology that aims at benchmarking participation opportunities available to residents of 125 municipalities. Before Maptionnaire, the Secretariat didn’t have a chance to simultaneously engage all these municipalities with thousands of residents — and now they can. 

We’re excited about Maptionnaire, already thinking about our second process with this platform.
Celia Andrea Ramirez Arechiga, the Secretariat of Citizen Participation and Planning, State of Jalisco

Takeaways for Creating a Community Engagement Plan

  1. The problem that Jalisco faced wasn’t just one avenue — it was a community problem affecting three municipalities with thousands of residents.
  2. Only a combination of collaborative and inclusive solutions could mitigate the problem in a way that’s beneficial for the community and the environment, as well as reflects how we design and build cities. 
  3. To create this set of solutions, the Secretariat of Citizen Participation set up a citizen engagement project, inviting residents and stakeholders to share their experiences and ideas.
  4. Maptionnaire was a key platform for reaching out to multiple people (over 45,000 participants in total) and obtaining GIS-based data implemented in the solution. The digital format and easy-to-use interface made participation more accessible and effortless for residents. It grants equal access to participation activities because not everyone has enough time or social capital to participate in in-person meetings. 
  5. Inviting residents and stakeholders early in the planning process promoted a sense of shared responsibility for the problem and ensured that a collaborative multi-sector solution was proposed. 

Are you interested in trying out Maptionnaire for your community engagement plan?

Get in touch with our team to learn more!
Get in touch

You'll also enjoy reading:

No items found.
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.