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StreetBuilder- Empowering citizens to co-create a healthy neighborhood around Michigan Central Station

StreetBuilder is a state of the art digital engagement platform that helps citizens co-create their neighbourhood.

Photo of German Dector-Vega
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StreetBuilder makes it easy for citizens to co-create their own proposals for transport planning, public realm, masterplanning and neighbourhood planning projects at an early stage.

StreetBuilder has been specially developed to provide a unique, user-centred experience. Based on industry standards and user research, it helps communities  overcome key barriers to  participation in city planning proposals which can sometimes be full of technical complexities and jargon.

The app helps both citizens and city authorities develop effective and realistic urban planning solutions. It supports and fast-tracks urban and transport processes like data sourcing, analysis and early feasibility assessments, to immediately provide a concept validation of proposed solutions. This allows anyone in the community to comment on existing proposals  and / or to put forward and shape up their own ideas. 

Key features

✓ Easy to use platform that promotes community participation

✓ Configurable topics and polls

✓ Geofenced interactive map

✓ Geotagging to capture locations for proposals and hyperlocal data 

✓ Pre-loaded content for configuration, so quick to set-up

✓ Library of user-friendly planning content

✓ Gamification, blog, social sharing and e-newsletters to amplify activity

 ✓ Dashboard with data export, content editor and real time activity

✓ Fully responsive, 100% functionality for mobile

The Future Fox developed the app to scale-up meaningful community engagement in planning, and will work closely with the local community around Michigan Central Station Impact Area,  the City of Detroit  and other stakeholders to explore novel ways to present solutions and to adjust the tool to maximise community participation and the development of transformational, low cost, viable solutions. 

How will your solution benefit residents, workers, or visitors in the Michigan Central Station impact area? (1,000 characters)

StreetBuilder will empower Detroit residents, workers, children and visitors to participate in the ambitious transformation of Michigan Central Station area. They will be able to participate on the go, from home or from work, and get updates about proposed ideas . The app will enable digital engagement and co-creation amongst the community, extending reach far beyond the ‘usual suspects’. Through a simple process StreetBuilder facilitates the development of transformational urban schemes that are viable, and low cost. StreetBuilder is easy to use and gameified to maximise reach, including the hardest to reach like those with little time, or those who can’t attend workshops. It takes on average 6 minutes to use the app and submit comments, striking a balance between fast and meaningful. The app enables meaningful participation, because it is underpinned by local data and industry techniques to guide the user to quickly understand the issues and make informed choices.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Ready to Scale - you have completed and expanded your pilot and are seeing adoption of your solution by your intended user

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

Results from our last trial showed that StreetBuilder achieved an engagement rate 3 times higher than other engagement tools used previously in the same area. It also achieved more than 50% user retention in the App. “Thank you for doing this. This has been the best consultation format I’ve encountered.” - Resident, Lewisham & Lee Green, 2019 “StreetBuilder made it easier for us to incorporate community feedback into designs.” - Programme Manager, Lewisham Council, 2019

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

The Future Fox is a technology start-up with social impact, with a mission to accelerate the development of smart, sustainable and people-focused cities. A team diverse in backgrounds, expertise and skills, between us we’ve helped build cycle route networks, mobilised tens of thousands of people to make changes to their neighbourhoods, and created new interactive digital experiences. We’re passionate about deeper engagement with communities, and transforming cities.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Team or Organization URL

www.thefuturefox.com

Funding Request

  • $50,000

Rough Budget (500 characters)

Project management $ 25,000 including wide stakeholder engagement to immerse ourselves into community issues and opportunities. App setup and maintenance $15,000 including customisation and testing with local people. Co-design and drop in sessions to make sure everyone is informed and involved $ 3,500. Analysis and reporting $3,500 including great visuals to share results and knowledge with everyone in the community. Grand Total $47,000.

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

We will set up an engagement plan with the City of Detroit and City:One, building on existing insights from previous community engagement, avoiding consultation fatigue and really tuning into the spirit and the mood of the community. We will set up the City:One version of the app and run the engagement campaign over 8 weeks, reaching a diverse and wide ranging audience. The app will identify and geolocate issues important to the community and asks individuals to propose and rate potential solutions that are suitable and viable. Additionally we will engage residents, businesses, visitors and school pupils through pop-up events and co-design sessions . To further increase reach we will promote the StreetBuilder engagement via social media channels, blog posts and email up-dates. Focusing on consensus building we will use novel techniques around data analysis and citizen deliberation to capture the best insights, narrow down ideas and identify the best solutions.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

We will capture engagement rates, including diversity of participants provide project specific monitoring including statistics on issues and preferred solutions as well as engagement rates including demographic breakdowns, sentiment analysis etc. We will also monitor reach amongst the community and a follow up survey for those residents who wish to receive follow-up information. StreetBuilder will be used to present citizens with the specific outcomes of the engagement in as much detail as possible making it quick for people to understand what has been suggested and agreed by the community and check with them if it make sense.

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

We will work closely with the City of Detroit, Detroit Department of Transportation and The Ford Motor Company to demonstrate how simple viable solution chosen by the community can be low cost and high impact. Working with the community we will also identify alternative sources of funding, like local businesses, foundations, grants and crowdfunding campaigns. We will test how we can empower the community to continue and widen the engagement and secure funding to make ideas a reality.

Social Media

@TheFutureFox

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Photo of German Dector-Vega
Team

Hi Boratha Tan , thanks for your question.

On the City:one challenge platform: we love it, it’s a brilliant way to bring the best from across the world to Detroit, and co-create solutions that will make the area meet the needs of a diverse range of users.

As you point out the StreetBuilder platform shares the spirit of the contest - we believe through co-creation we can deliver high quality changes that improve the lives of users. That’s why we think this is a great match for our app! However, co-creation is very difficult to achieve to deliver technically impactful results in transport planning, like changes to traffic circulation, public transit routes etc. Changes like this will be a)crucial to improving the station area and b) slightly contentious with the public and businesses in the affected area. Meaningful, early engagement, and deep co-creation, where co-creators are provided with the opportunity to discuss technical information, is proven to increase the quality of final schemes. The only way you can achieve this currently is through community-led design workshops. Our platform provides this and allows users to deliberate, simulating the benefits of face to face workshops.

Looking through the proposed projects on this platform, there are some bold specific transport planning projects (the roundabout redesign, the green corridor). These are fantastic concepts, and we’d love to see them happen, however these are not co-created with residents/businesses in the impact area - and those are the stakeholders who will be most affected and should be involved in the co-creation process from the start. Transport planning is also much more effective with an area-based approach - for technical reasons, and to get buy in from residents/businesses in particular. General crowdsourcing platforms including this one don’t cater for this. It’s because the planning process is complicated. StreetBuilder overcomes this at scale.

How we reach out to people to use the platform: You may be thinking - well we did reach out to residents/businesses in the area to get involved in City:one! We know from our previous projects that targeted outreach messaging is critical to success. In the UK only 3% people engage in strategic consultations - because the questions are so big and most people just don’t have the time if it doesn’t have a direct impact on their daily lives. Framing the StreetBuilder consultation as Changes to Traffic in the area will motivate a lot more locals to get involved, because it has an immediate impact. It’s also incredibly easy for visitors to the site to actively participate rather than view passively. Our recent project in London reached one of the highest rates of participation in any consultation in that district, tripling previous digital engagement rates! Apart from the outreach channels we list in the “Describe how you would pilot your idea” question, we would integrate with the City:One comms plan as well.

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