One way to encourage citizen involvement in the strategic planning process is to provide an interactive platform that encourages feedback in decision-making.
Advancing the Alleghenies is the Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission’s (SAPDC) Urban Interactive Studio used to engage the community with an interactive strategic plan. SAPDC is a public/private partnership in Pennsylvania that seeks to develop a comprehensive economic development strategy for the Southern Allegheny region. In 2014, the group launched “Advancing the Alleghenies” to achieve its goal of increasing public outreach and collaboration – engagement key to the strategic planning process and its ultimate success.
Through the “Engaging Plans” platform from Urban Interactive Studio, the partnership was able to have a one-stop shop for project communications, hosting documents, events, news and FAQs, at an undisclosed monthly subscription fee. The platform gives community members a voice and the partnership is able to collect feedback via discussions, surveys, and an idea wall. The Advancing Alleghenies site hosts strategic planning documents for each city in the region for residents to reference, and has interactives maps for users to explore including population change, legislative districts, transportation improvement programs, and census boundaries. The most interaction the site provides includes an “Issues and Opportunities” tab where users are asked for their perspective on opportunities, assets, and issues of the region, and can rank listed items by dragging them to arrange each item in order of importance. The strategic plan on the site hasn’t been updated since the 2014, likely indicative of the SAPDC’s discontinued use of the platform.