Was the project successful?
As far as engaging the wider community, the project was incredibly successful. Melbourne’s Post-Implementation Review reports an average of 2,500 hits per day with around 30,000 total hits during the month-long public comment period. And, according to the report, not a single instance of spam, off-topic or offensive material was posted during the entire review period. In fact, the executive summary notes that “public participants responded with contributions that were of a high quality, thoughtful and productive”. Following the public comment period, 79% of interviewed participants found the wiki to be “an effective tool for developing a collaborative document” and believed this tool was “the way of the future”.
While the results sound resoundingly optimistic, the Future Melbourne Team has offered advice on some lessons learned during the process:
Above all else the Future Melbourne team emphasized the importance of identifying and thoughtfully implementing cutting edge technology. The team considered it’s management of the new technology to be one of its most successful endeavors. They attribute this result to their investment in educating themselves on the software and utilizing it during pilot periods, before going live to the public.
The Future Melbourne team discovered that when using wiki technology, standard timeframes must be adjusted. The project gained national attention after it concluded when the City of Melbourne received the prestigious President’s Award for outstanding planning practice. However, Future Melbourne team members expressed the desire for more attention to have been placed on the project during public commenting periods, as opposed to after the fact. They acknowledged that promoting the website, marketing to a wider audience, and search engine optimization are all important aspects, not to be overlooked when implementing participatory technology.
The team also noted that while emerging technology attributed to the success of the project; it was more difficult to evaluate community engagement after the project’s conclusion. The team offered the following example: “It is intuitive to interpret an edit to the plan as evidence of engagement, however it is less so to interpret a page view as such… although one wouldn’t think twice about considering an attendee to a town hall meeting as participating, even if they never spoke a word”. One thing is certain, as more and more cities adopt technologies such as this, precedence will continue to be established for utilizing and analyzing web 2.0 in city planning.
Check out the full Post-Implementation Review for yourself here: http://www.futuremelbourne.com.au/wiki/pub/FMPlan/WebHome/Future_Melbourne_Wiki_Post_Implementation_.pdf