The number of people digitally participating more than doubled from the previous Boundary Review with nearly 90 per cent of all feedback being submitted online, compared to just 39 per cent in 2013.
In what is believed to be a digital first for a parliamentary consultation, the majority of people visiting the boundary changes portal to engage with the review did so through smartphone and 25 per cent of feedback came from social media, through Twitter and Facebook. On the first day of the review, the portal received over 200,000 visits.
The dramatic increase in digital engagement was achieved through the use of InformedCONSULT, a high performing and secure public consultation and collaboration platform developed by Informed Solutions. This made the boundary changes widely accessible and simple to understand, enabling people to submit feedback at the click of a button.
Using open source technology and elastic cloud services, the platform incorporates a highly usable mapping interface that enables the public to intuitively locate proposed changes via postcode or region. Users are able to easily submit comments, interact with existing comments, examine region specific data and turn on/off various layers to help them compare or simplify their view of the information available.
Commenting on the detailed plans, which are expected to be put before Parliament for approval next year, Sam Hartley, Secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, said he was delighted to have vastly exceeded their 50 per cent target for online engagement.
“What’s really encouraging is that as well as simply higher levels of online engagement, this digital first approach is also bringing participation in democracy to entirely new audiences, including a significantly higher proportion of young adults than ever before,” he added.
Informed Solutions’ Technical Director David Lawton said being able to more than double the level of digital engagement was a great achievement. This represented significant progress in the drive to recast the relationship between citizens and government.
“Given it is the first time the Commission has used a digital consultation platform, we’re really pleased with the results and performance delivered by InformedConsult,” he said. “It’s a highly cost effective approach to large scale public consultations, particularly those that integrate spatial and mapping capabilities and that need to be accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop. The platform has very significantly reduced operating costs and offers huge opportunities to reach and engage new audiences.”