[SURVEY OF THE MONTH] Exploring Strategic Planning in Australia: the Southern Escarpment Master Plan

Exploring Strategic Planning in Australia: the Southern Escarpment Master Plan

The Survey of the Month series is a monthly blog where we highlight the extraordinary work our customers are doing, along with some takeaways that are relevant for anyone interested in making the most out of online engagement using MetroQuest’s survey platform!

To see more in the series, visit the blogs here.

For a change, this month we are leaving North America to highlight a customer in Australia who has created one fantastic survey after another: Blue Mountains City Council in New South Wales (NSW). This agency is unique in many ways, including the fact that the local government area in question is almost 75% National Park!

What’s the story? Developing a vision for recreational visitor destination

The survey we are highlighting this month is the Southern Escarpment Masterplan, a strategic planning initiative by Blue Mountains City Council, to guide future development as well as the ongoing management of nature- and culture-based recreation and tourism. The survey seeks input on how the visitor destinations in the Southern Escarpment are currently used, and the priorities of those who live, work, or visit the area.

The Masterplan is one initiative out of several current planning projects by the Council, all aimed at helping shape the future of the City of Blue Mountains. The plan’s purpose is to coordinate planning, to prioritize infrastructure upgrades, to guide amenity improvements and to provide a strategic planning document to attract public and private sector investments.

For more information on this and other projects, visit their website at https://yoursay.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/.

Anatomy of a Masterplan Survey: Priorities, Use, and ValuesSouthern Escarpment Master Plan MetroQuest Survey Demo

Upon landing on the survey, visitors are presented with a beautiful scenic image of the area in question as well information on the project and the tasks at hand. They are asked to provide input on what they prioritize in the Southern Escarpment on a Priority Ranking Screen. Participants are asked to choose their top 5 in order out of a list of 8 priorities, namely: Exercise, Residential amenity, Nature, Accessibility, Tourism, Culture, Recreation or the option to input an additional priority in text form.

Southern Escarpment Master Plan MetroQuest Survey Demo

Participants can indicate their priorities for the area, such as Recreation.

Next, participants are presented with a Map Marker Screen and asked to show how they use places by dropping markers on a Google map. The choices for different markers are “Where do you go”, “What do you value most”, “Problems”, “Future priorities”, as well as “Your ideas”.

The final interactive exercise, before the survey wraps up with demographic questions and a thank you message, is a Standard Survey Screen on values. Participants are asked follow-up questions on the priorities they’ve previously identified as important to them, often asking for clarification on how important an aspect is or how satisfied they are with the current status.

If you’d like to try the survey, visit the MetroQuest survey here. The survey is currently live, but this is a demo version that will not affect the survey results.

5 Tips from Southern Escarpment Master Plan: Using the Plan’s Advantages to Your Benefit

Not every survey is fortunate enough to be discussing a stunningly beautiful landscape, but visual appeal can be applied to almost any context and makes the survey experience more pleasant! Below are 5 takeaways from the survey:

  1. First impressions matter! What instantly stands out is the beautiful image in the Welcome Screen background that ties in perfectly with the color scheme of the survey. A prominent background image can be found for just about any context or project, and helps create a positive initial experience. For example, aerial images always look captivating, and the right lighting or editing can make a picture of a standard bus look striking! MetroQuest’s Image Library offers some choices to get your team started, but you can always upload your own.

Southern Escarpment Master Plan MetroQuest Survey Demo

  1. The way the team tied-in the colors of the background image with the gradient colors of the Screens makes the entire Survey look remarkable. When choosing colors for each Screen, which are completely customizable, use appealing colors or match a project logo or page for brand recognition. If you do not have marketing guidelines or requirements in respect to colors, have a look at the many MetroQuest-created palettes for inspiration!
  1. The Map Marker Screen utilizes a location drop down at the bottom of the Screen which allows participants to zoom into any and all areas that they are most interested in. This makes for a better user experience as a participant can hone in on exactly where they would like to provide feedback, and also gives you more accurate geospatial data.

Southern Escarpment Master Plan MetroQuest Survey Demo

  1. This survey used the Priority Ranking Screen as their first interactive activity, and we always highly recommend this for a number of reasons: it warms up participants to this new way of providing input online; it gives you very relevant data on what is important to your participants; and it allows you to give the survey a tailored feel by following-up on participant priorities in a subsequent Screen, as done here with the Standard Survey Screen. This connection also makes the Standard Survey Screen more manageable because it limits the questions to focus on what the participant already identified in the first Screen as important to them. As a result, they are more likely to provide input and meaningful data.
  1. Finally, speaking of the Standard Survey Screen, if you are using it to gather data on very specific areas, we recommend that you place it at the end of the survey as this one does, because a survey taker has already provided input, and is more likely to keep going and complete the survey. If this Screen is up front, a participant might think the entire survey is just survey questions which may discourage them from continuing.


Congratulations to the team at Blue Mountains for a great, interactive, and one of the most beautiful MetroQuest surveys we have come across!


For more great tips on how to make the most out of MetroQuest, contact your Customer Experience manager or reach out for more information!

Want to learn more about how you can build a MetroQuest Survey to support community outreach on your next transportation plan? Check out our recent webinar: The Art & Science of Big Online Engagement for Small Plans.

The Art & Science of Big Online Engagement for Small Plans

The Art & Science of Big Online Engagement for Small Plans

Learn from hundreds of case studies and interviews from exceptional planners across the country! This webinar focuses on strategies behind creating delightful surveys for public input and dives into using social media and other advertising tools.


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