West Sussex County Council are committed to involving the public in their ongoing decision-making, and to giving their citizens a meaningful say in the outcomes of issues that affect them.
They had online consultation processes in place already, but were frustrated by using clunky tools that weren’t user friendly and which blocked them from getting representative data as a result.
Changing the way they ran their consultations was part of a wider council-wide IT Strategy, implemented from 2016, which would see the council’s use of and attitude towards technology and systems move towards a more agile and modern approach.
They chose Citizen Space
That’s why they brought in Citizen Space. It’s a powerful, streamlined tool that keeps both user and admin interfaces as simple as possible while delivering a high quality experience on both ends. This ties in with the IT Strategy’s pledge to use technology that is both user and customer focused. Citizen Space is designed to make it easy to publish a consultation, and to respond to one.
The strategy also includes a pledge to use tech and systems that are affordable and performing. Citizen Space’s subscription model couldn’t be simpler. It runs on a yearly basis, and organisations don’t have to buy multiple licenses for all their different users. Unlike with many competitive tools, once they’ve bought a subscription, Citizen Space customers can add as many admin users to their site as they want. This means that they aren’t spending hundreds or thousands of pounds for a license every time they need to add an administrator. It also means the work load can be spread across departments, meaning that it doesn’t have to fall on a handful of site admins to write, publish and report every consultation. This in turn leads to broader scope and variety of consultations.
Scale and convenience
Since procuring Citizen Space, West Sussex County Council have run over 100 consultations each year. They have also set up a ‘People’s Panel’, which is a way for a selected representative group of citizens to comment on Council matters. The sign-up form is hosted on their main consultation hub.
Also hosted on the main page is ‘We Asked, You Said, We Did’: a way to post quick-look feedback on closed consultations. The Council understand that good engagement with citizens doesn’t just mean asking people their views; it means giving quality feedback on a decision, whatever the outcome, so that respondents can see the impact of their responses. Using this feature means that residents don’t have to go searching through closed consultations to find a feedback report; they can see all consultation results on one page. The Council feed back quickly and thoroughly, usually within a couple of months. By increasing their accountability in this way, they’re also increasing trust with their citizens.
Using Citizen Space has meant that West Sussex County Council were able to improve agility and create efficiencies within their organisation, as well as delivering real value to the people they serve.
If you’d like to learn more about Citizen Space, book a free demo and we’ll walk you through it.