[WEBINAR] A Recipe for Award-Winning Online Community Engagement Featuring Elevating Erie

Arial view of the City of Syracuse,NY

This highly visual 45-minute webinar presents research findings, proven best practices, practical tips and award-winning case studies to guide agencies towards the successful application of online community engagement for planning projects. Participants walk away with an understanding about how to leverage digital engagement to achieve unprecedented results using cost-effective tools.

The webinar showcases a wide range of outstanding planning projects from the Northeastern US. Our special guests from the City of Syracuse and the Town of Dewitt join us to talk about the Elevating Erie project, one of the most innovative and successful outreach efforts we’ve ever seen. They discuss the innovative ways they combined online and targeted face to face community engagement to involve thousands of community members to help inform the process. They also share advice for agencies seeking to improve the diversity and effectiveness of their community engagement efforts and talk about the positive difference that broad community support is making as they move forward.

Watch Recording

View Slides

This webinar featured three presenters: Dave Biggs from MetroQuest, Sam Gordon from the Town of DeWitt and Owen Kerney from the Syracuse – Onondaga County Planning Agency.

Participant Comments

Thanks so much for the great comments and kudos. Here’s some of our favorites:
“The presentation was well crafted and interesting.”
“Great webinar for public outreach. Very interesting. The tool looks very effective!”
“Exemplary project presentation and “How-To” regarding the Public Participation/Open Process.”
“One of the better webinars I’ve heard. Graphics were great.”
“Great webinar. Really good info, efficient, relevant to my work.”
“Interesting, upbeat, helpful as we will be writing a comp plan over the next two years.”
“I really enjoyed this webinar and found it very useful and timely. It was a very visual presentation and I plan to look back at it again.”
“Public engagement has always been a tough job. This webinar was great – highlights quickly what is working”
Average rating: 4.75/5 stars

[Wow, thanks!]

AICP CM Credits

Here is the direct link to claim your AICP credits from the APA. Note that the date trips people up. This webinar is part of a series so they instructed us to set it up as an “on-demand” session so you’ll notice that the start and end are a year apart.

During the webinar Sam and Owen shared a video that they produced to promote participation but it was a little choppy so feel free to check it out here.

Bonus Case Study: NashvilleNext

Mentioned briefly in the webinar, this case study of the NashvilleNext process shows why they were the 2016 winners of the APA 2016 National Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan.


Here are the questions that were raised by participants or that came in after by email that we didn’t get a chance to respond to fully during the session.

Questions for MetroQuest

Q: MetroQuest looks useful. Who is the best person to speak to for more information about it?
A: [From Dave] I apologize for not being able to provide more in-depth information about MetroQuest due to the educational nature of this session. The best person is Derek Warburton at MetroQuest (by email to derek.warburton@metroquest.com, or toll free phone: 1 855-215-0186. Derek will be pleased to make sure you get the information you need. In the meantime, here is a quick video to give you a better sense of the software.

Questions for Elevating Erie

Q: How many staff people did you have working on the project?
A: [From Sam] Between the City and the Town we had 4 different staff people working on different aspects of the project. We also had 3 different consultants who provided assistance.

Q: What was the overall budget and funding sources for this project?
A: [From Sam] Between the City and Town we spent approximately $85,000 on the Elevating Erie project inclusive of the design of the ideas competition, running the competition, coordinating the jury, building the exhibition, purchasing and putting together the Metroquest engagement tool. Roughly $35,000 was from the Town of DeWitt Local Waterfront Revitalization Program funding through NYS Department of State, $30,000 was from the City of Syracuse of Syracuse Brownfield Opportunity Area Funding also through NYS Department of State, and we also received a $20,000 grant from a local community foundation.

Q: Have you done any analysis of the demographic difference of community members engaged via on-line methods vs. in-person? (older/younger? Resident/non-resident?)
A: [From Sam] According to our survey responses, approximately 28% of our respondents were between 20-35, 30% were between 36-50, and 28% were between 51-65. – also approximately 30% of participants were from the town, 31% were from the City of Syracuse, and 26% from elsewhere in Onondaga County. 10 percent of participants were from other parts of New York State, and just over 4% of participants identified as outside of New York State. It was important to us to hear from a variety of audiences, and to be able to demonstrate that there was interest in this project from outside of the region, we feel that we were successful to date in being able to demonstrate this.

Q: What’s considered a good length of time to run a campaign of this scope? I noticed on the Erie billboard the project was on display at the museum May through August. How long did you collect input?
A: [From Sam] We collected input over a three month timeframe, which seemed to be a good window for sustaining both interest from the community and our own effort of scheduling and appearing at the various venues, speaking engagements, and media opportunities during that timeframe. [from Dave] 3 months seems to be a good standard for most of our clients. It’s important to keep the promotional effort going throughout to spur on new spikes in participation. It’s also useful as let people know that there is a limited amount of time and count down as the end get near to increase the sense of urgency.

Many thanks for joining us!

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