Moreton Bay Regional Council shows us how Virtual Reality can help bring development projects to life, to better inform community understanding and enhance promotional activities.
The Good: The inclusion of Virtual Reality creates a highly shareable artefact for promotion as well as an immersive experience of the development. An engagement rate of almost 40% is an impressive feat with almost 90% of visitors to the consultation being unique individuals.
For Consideration: Making survey results from community consultation round one more visible and links to key engagement teams or a Q&A tool would be useful.
Overall: This project show what you can achieve with a well thought-out engagement plan. It's multi-staged approach shows that you can inform your projects and build community support over a longer period of time, which is essential for large scale development projects. The inclusion of virtual reality as a promotional and informational artefact is a great use of what is sure to become an important part of online engagement in the future.
Located in Queensland Australia, The Mill Moreton Bay is a major re-development project that aims to transform an old paper mill into a world-class knowledge and innovation precinct.
The precinct will include a brand new University for the Sunshine Coast, a revitalised local town centre, business hub and retail outlets, transport infrastructure as well as conservation areas for wildlife, natural lakes and vegetation.
Working in partnership with the Queensland State Government and Economic Development Queensland, it is hoped the project will provide more than 20,000 study places from 100 new courses; new community facilities including a public library; 100 direct construction jobs per year and more than 6000 ongoing new jobs for the region once it is complete.
Like many nation building projects of this size and scope, a well though-out engagement and communications strategy has been required to ensure the project is well informed and that there is continued public support.
With this project, Moreton Bay Regional Council have shown us how to put together an engagement program that not only optimises their use of EHQ but also incorporates new and innovative ideas to help bring the project to life.
Community Consultation Phase One
During phase one of community consultation, Moreton Bay decided to focus their EHQ site on helping the community understand the breadth and scope of the project.
They did this by creating a dedicated site that neatly compartmentalised key information about the project.
This included dedicated pages explaining the project, frequently asked questions, a news and publications section as well as the history of the proposed site.
Beyond these key informational pages they also included ways to register and get in-touch and also a clearly marked portal to provide feedback on the precinct design.
As stated on their 'Moreton Bay Region University Precinct" project page, the aim of phase one was to collect "feedback on the employment, housing, sport and recreation, health and community outcomes" which the community thought could be realised on the site.
Utilising a registered participants only survey, the Council was successfully able to capture important initial feedback with an astounding 35% engagement rate and a unique visitor rate of almost 90%.
Because they used a registered participant survey, they were also able to establish a sizeable database of followers, which we consider best practice and essential for bringing the same respondents/community back into the conversation throughout following phases.
The initial consultation period lasted for 6 weeks and was widely promoted on social media, in the local news and through various other Council and State Government channels via cross-promotion.
Community Consultation Phase Two
During the second phase of community consultation, we saw a complete transformation of the main project homepage as well as the incorporation of more detailed plans and interactive elements showcasing the proposed development scheme.
By incorporating feedback from phase one, which included an almost 90% approval rating, Council was able to sufficiently inform the the development scheme design and show evidence and support for their decision making.
The project was neatly broken down into 5 key pages (places within the scheme) linking from a main project page. Each sub-page was linked to via a related projects widget. These included included; Mill Green, Mill Urban, Mill Transit, Mill Innovation and Mill Central.
Each key place of the proposed development scheme was given it's own dedicated project page and identifying colour palette and sought to explain the key facts and figures for each component of the scheme.
As part of these dedicated pages, Moreton Bay Council also included key images showing renders of each area as well as place specific virtual reality experiences.
These high quality renders and virtual reality tours allow the community to experience each place in an immersive way, rather than what would have otherwise been a lengthy .pdf document. (a comprehensive .pdf document was also provided in the document library)
Using virtual reality also had the advantage of providing an important communications artefact to be shared online and also at face-to-face events.
In order to get the most from their investment in a VR experience, Moreton Bay Council purchased custom project branded Google Cardboard goggles and made them available at their customer service centres and events throughout the Council area for the public to use.
Since the the goggles worked with almost any smart phone along with the download of the Google Cardbaord app, this meant it was easy for as many people as possible to experience the VR views of the project.
Setting up the VR experience was easily explained by creating a dedicated static page of instructions in EHQ and linking to it directly from each page where VR was mentioned.
On this page embedded how-to videos showed members of the community how to setup and launch their VR experience on a mobile device.
By providing this experience as well as a combination of EHQ widgets, Moreton Bay was able to transport their community inside of the proposed development scheme, provide supporting documentation about the plans, clearly articulate key dates about community events and answer frequently asked questions all prior to asking for community feedback via a comprehensive survey and submission process.
This project is a fantastic example of a well thought-out strategy that combined communications and engagement activities, cutting edge technology and a coherent use of EHQ to structure online content and engagement activity.
Client: Moreton Bay Regional Council, Queensland Australia
Template: Whitehaven and Torquay
Project: The Mill, Moreton Bay
Publish Date: April 2016 - Current
Project Details: Identified as a major Priority Development Area for the state, the project is to redevelop and old paper mill site into a world-class knowledge and innovation project incorporating a new University, town centre, business and retail precinct and conservation parks.
Tools: Surveys, Submission Forms
Widgets: SignUp Banners, FAQs, Document Libraries, Lifecycles, Who's Listening, Register
Other: Multi-page consultation breaking down project areas into their own full page resources, inclusion of project fly-thrus and rich media, option to experience project in Virtual Reality.
1. Two phases of community involvement and transformation of content over time.
2. Use of widgets to display key information, particularly the custom widget to link to the VR experience and instructions; and also the related projects widget to link to the related pages for the project.
3. The use of registered surveys to drive database growth. With more than 30% engagement it's safe to say that the registration process wasn't much of a barrier to participation.
4. Virtual Reality!!! Great immersive way to present information for online engagement with a double advantage of being a highly shareable promotional artefact.
For further consideration:
1. It would be good to make the phase one consultation report visible on the second page consultation page.
2. We think allowing your community to ask questions at any stage is important. including a Q&A tool will facilitate this.
NOTE: The article above is based on a visit to the site on 18th May 2017. Changes made to the project after that date may have altered the appearance of the project.