New Platform Brings “Website In A Box” To Community Planners

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A recently released web tool for communities, EngagingPlans (http://EngagingPlans.com), is revolutionizing public involvement by providing place-based, interactive websites and social media integration in a streamlined, out-of-the-box format. This is a valuable asset for planning agencies that want to maintain an interactive online presence, collect public feedback, and drive updates to the community, but don’t want to spend the time and money to build an entire public engagement website from scratch.

Our focus this year is to bring the planning world into the 21st century, and to provide an engaging web presence for planning projects that haven’t been able to afford one in the past.

EngagingPlans solves the dilemma that many organizations face as public communication moves increasingly online and more citizens expect the convenience of having information available on the web. Agencies are recognizing the value of online collaboration among stakeholders, citizens, planners, and decision-makers, but often can’t afford the output of money and manpower required to maintain an effective web presence dedicated to a specific project. EngagingPlans enables the rapid launch of a robust website and content management system, with minimal effort and no special technical skills required.

“The administrative interface is very intuitive, allowing for easy uploads and edits,” said Liz Austin, Associate Planner and Urban Designer at Kendig Keast Collaborative, who used EngagingPlans to build an online presence for three long-range planning studies in Fremont, Nebraska. “It also facilitated an open and interactive planning process that generated constructive input and encouraged a broad range of participation.”

In practical terms, the platform allows project planners to quickly create and customize unlimited web pages, upload event calendars, add photo sets or galleries, create document libraries, display maps, invite visitors to search and subscribe to newsletters, and let people geographically reference input with interactive maps. By combining open source technologies with social media integration, EngagingPlans reduces the cost of public outreach and involvement while allowing planners to collect valuable feedback and ideas fast.

EngagingPlans is a product of Urban Interactive Studio (UIS), a full-service technology consulting firm specializing in web and mobile solutions for urban planning agencies and organizations. The company offers a variety of platforms for helping agencies accomplish public communication objectives, combining a variety of online and mobile tools, as well as social media techniques, to facilitate communication and spark interaction in innovative new ways. EngagingPlans, which was released from Beta early this year, is the most recent release of UIS and reflects the company’s vision to positively influence community planning.

“We developed this platform so that project planners could reach more people, more efficiently,” said Chris Haller, founder and CEO of Urban Interactive Studio. “Our focus this year is to bring the planning world into the 21st century, and provide an engaging web presence for planning projects that haven’t been able to afford one in the past.” EngagingPlans has successfully launched multiple public involvement projects since its inception, including the site for MetroFuture, an initiative for growth and development in Boston.

For more information go to http://EngagingPlans.com, or contact Chris Haller at 303-720-6424.

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Chris Haller
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