The zoning department of the City of Vaasa in Finland is responsible for urban planning in both Vaasa and Vähäkyrö. The city has a long history with Maptionnaire: the urban planners discovered Maptionnaire’s engagement software already in the early stages of development when the PPGIS (public participation GIS) method, which Maptionnaire’s technology is based on, was taking its first steps. Since the beginning, Vaasa’s urban planners have wanted to develop the practices of digital community engagement further. It has been important for them to reach people who neither give written feedback on the city's development plans nor participate in public events.
Zoning and Urban Engineering Are the Most Active Users
Maptionnaire has been used for public participation in Vaasa for several years. They’ve tried using an alternative tool, but Maptionnaire has seemed to have the most versatile features, and it has been familiar to use. Choosing citizen participation software for a city is not a straightforward task as there are quite a bit of features to take into account!
The zoning and the urban engineering departments have been the most active users of Maptionnaire. However, extending the use of the service to other sectors would be a possibility in the future.
At the City of Vaasa, Maptionnaire has been used for a variety of purposes. Most commonly a survey is created in the planning phase and concerns for example a zoning plan or a road plan. At the beginning of the planning process, residents may be asked about the need for a new road, an opinion on a suitable location for a building, or about their favorite place in the area. As the planning process progresses, residents are asked to comment on the zoning map and they can say what they think is good and bad about the plan.
Promoting an Online Survey Increases the Number of Responses
In Vaasa, Maptionnaire has shed light on issues and challenges of different types and scales. In general, online surveys have reached a larger number of respondents than traditional methods, and therefore have provided the city’s urban planners with more data. The Maptionnaire surveys in Vaasa have reached up to 500 respondents, which is considerably more than the average number of participants at public meetings.
Vaasa's urban planners also give a tip for increasing the number of participants: “Remember to advertise your surveys. If no one knows about them, no one will answer them. ”
In Vaasa, the online surveys created with Maptionnaire are published in the city's social media channels, mainly Facebook and Twitter. Guerilla marketing tactics are also used: physical advertisements are placed in the immediate vicinity of the zoning area, such as on notice boards in shops and the library. Check this article for more tips on how to increase the survey’s outreach and response rates.
We are really happy that we had Maptionnaire’s digital service already in use when the coronavirus pandemic started. It has been important that we’ve been able to do our everyday work and proceed with our planning projects normally and without disruptions even though face-to-face meetings have not been taking place. Without Maptionnaire, this wouldn’t have been possible.