Happy New Year to all our participants, organisers, customers and supporters alike.
We are really looking forward to the new year ahead, and the opportunity to build upon some significant advances we put in place during the last year. We’ll be posting more news on our plans in the coming weeks, but here’s a quick look back at a few projects and achievements in 2014.
Creative Citizens win planning permission at Ward’s Corner
Back in March, the local trader community at Ward’s Corner in Haringey, were the star users of Stickyworld last year. They created an online consultation around their own plans, they promoted, moderated and evidenced their online engagement as part of their successful planning application to Haringey Council. Supported by Open University and Royal College of Art through the Creative Citizens project, this most driven of local London communities created a compelling 360 virtual tour of their existing building and their redevelopment proposals, attracting over 2000 views, 80 members and 200 comments. The organisers exported a PDF report of their engagement and comments to evidence to the council and it was a real thrill for us to be a small part of their subsequent planning application success.
Planning on the Roof
In September, we worked with Liane Hartley and the Planning in the Pub network to host a rooftop software testing party in Dalston. All year we had been working on a project called Neighbourhood Stickers, funded by Nominet Trust, and which continues up to June this year. The aim is to develop tools to engage more young people in planning discussions, and amongst various user research activities with City University, this project involved developing and testing a Twitter listening integration to enable organisers to start long-form conversations from photo Tweets. The rooftop testing party was a great success with over 30 people participating, and in just a couple of hours, we managed to crowdsource content for a website of over 100 geo-located photos of Dalston. This exercise has since been repeated in Newcastle by architecture students at the university, and by masters students in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership of City University. More trials are lined up for the first quarter of this year with various neighbourhood planning groups. We’ll be improving the features based on your feedback and we will release these features on the main platform later in the year. If you’d like to try this fun community participation activity for yourself, it’s free - just get in touch.
The following month, we stretched ourselves to introduce a different kind of participation feature in Stickyworld, launching an online competition for Central Ealing Neighbourhood Forum, for a project organised by Angela Koch of Imagine Places. The aim was to crowdsource young people’s ideas for Central Ealing - there were over 60 entries and congratulations to Alex, Vasiliki and Niko who won prizes. Just before Christmas, we tested these voting features again internally with the team, deciding on the venue of the office Christmas outing. This seemed to work well (as did our subsequent outing to the circus), and we aim to bring improved co-opetition features into the main platform later in the year. In fact we are looking forward to hosting some exciting new design competitions and exploring more crowdsourced outcomes in 2015.
Clearer conversations in release 1.15
One of the biggest achievements in our product development in 2014 was features that enable what we call “clearer conversations’, including saved points of view in both reports and email alerts. With release 1.15 back in August, we included HTML emails that capture the exact point of view associated with each comment and thereby help people understand the conversation more clearly. This basically means it is possible to see exactly what a commenter was specifically looking at the time of commenting in the email alerts, and anyone can then decide if they wish to receive these alerts, and whether they need to reply to a comment. We believe clearer conversations lead to a faster shared understanding, enabling better or more effective participation to result.
Growing the team in 2015
Overall our team grew in 2014 to five, to include Carl, Karsh and Lauren, joining Chris and myself full time, and we are looking to add to our sales team in 2015. As with other technology start ups, we have been helped by a number of freelancers and contractors throughout the year, including Monika, Renee, Teresa and David, Joe who helped develop the first Twitter walkabout prototype, Sara and Heather who flew all the way from the United States to intern with us, and Fred who flew in from Brazil . We remain very grateful for this help and also for business advice from Andrus, Rose and Nick and for the continuous support from Tony Burton who has tirelessly promoted online and digital engagement tools to the Neighbourhood Planning groups he advises. We also enjoyed continuing our collaboration with City University’s team, including Sara Jones and Amanda Brown, and also Chris Nugent and his team at the Smart Environments Research Group at Ulster University, and all our partners on the PIA project (more on that to follow later this month).
It seems 2014’s progress was in laying the foundations for new types of participation on the Stickyworld platform, so in 2015 we now hope to enable many more customers to try these out, and benefit from the positive outcomes that effective participation processes can offer.
A Happy New Year to you all.