A different kind of data collection for this Finnish city
Data collection and community feedback come together in the Finnish city of Lahti to have a meaningful impact. The city of Lahti is the 8th largest city in Finland with over 120 000 inhabitants. For the last few years the city has been employing a mobile application for gathering opinions from residents. And the feedback is having an effect.
The Reasons Why
The city saw the need to engage and collect feedback from residents who did not normally participate in city meetings. (Families with children, young people, and other silent groups). The city wanted an engagement channel that could reach a larger portion of the population in a more expedited manner than traditional engagement methods. So, they decided that a mobile engagement application would be a new approach that was worth trying out.
The mobile app, known as Porukka, was launched in January 2016. It enables people to participate in community topics from any location at any time. People download the app on their mobile and then the city can send discussion or survey topics to everyone that has the app. This allows the city to collect quantifiable feedback in a short time frame. Reaching thousands of people and collecting real data for various projects gives the city planners an invaluable tool for designing development according to real peoples input.
The City of Lahti has used the app to engage residents on a number of different projects. These include city strategy creation, brand renewal process, city bicycling, campus design, and many others.
City Bicycling Development
From April to July of 2016 the city initiated an engagement campaign to obtain information and insight from residents regarding the development bicycling in the city. Porukka, was the primary tool for engagement. Via the application the city was able to publish a series of surveys and discussion topics.
The project revealed that 97 percent of residents who participated in the Porukka survey welcomed and supported the development of cycling. Additionally, the city was able to determine specific ways residents wanted cycling infrastructure to be improved. As a result of the engagement campaign key improvements were made.
• Additional bicycling routes were added, particularly routes that connect school campuses to the city center.
• 750 new design safety bike racks were added to the city center.
• Bicycling and pedestrian traffic lanes were separated.
The city of Lahti has over 4000 people using the Porukka app and has collected over 200,000 responses in the last two years. The app helps build significant residential support. The application has been a supportive tool for meeting the city’s strategic environmental target of being CO2 neutral by 2040. And is being used for the city's up coming carbon trading project, known as City Cap.
With the app Lahti is trying to make stakeholder engagement as easy and efficient as possible. The city is reaching and engaging a wider audience than with traditional methods and has engaged otherwise hard-to-reach groups such as young adults and families with school-age children.
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