Monday, April 11, 2022

Richardson's Public Engagement - Rickey Henderson Edition

Previously I posted that Richardson's Public Engagement is broken. I criticized the City for not using its monthly Richardson Today to publicize its engagement efforts properly. This week the April edition of Richardson Today arrived, and it is different. Let's see what they did.

Richardson Today - April 2022
Source: City of Richardson


Before I answer the question of what is different, let me first encourage any interested person reading to take Richardson's various surveys. Here they are:

Parks and Open Space Master Plan Survey

City Hall Survey

Library Survey

I said before that the City put its Active Transportation Survey at the bottom of the page and "below the fold." That piece led readers to an online survey and gave no way of letting a non-connected resident participate in the survey. Even though that issue came out the same day as the in-person Active Transportation listening sessions, it failed to mention them.

In this month's issue, the City of Richardson published links to three of its surveys.

I established a baseball analogy of success and error. My baseball metaphor imagined Richardson's public engagement as a bundle of its batters striking out, a few base hits, and a bunch of unforced errors. However, this Richardson Today edition is a vast improvement. Let us call it a few runs batted in with multiple base hits.

First is a banner calling attention to public input. You can see it above. It appears above the fold instead of below it. It could have been a no effort graphic generated in a few minutes, but what was produced is attractive and eye-catching. Its message is simple and straight to the point: Seeking Public Input. It takes up half the usable space above the fold. People opening up Richardson Today aren't likely to miss it. Call this is a single followed by a strong Rickey Henderson stolen base thrown in for good measure.

Here are the QR Codes and City explanations for the Library, City Hall, and Parks Master Plan.

Library/City Hall Survey Links -April 2022
Source: City of Richardson


Parks Plan Survey Link - April 2022
Source: City of Richardson

These invitations and montages represent an improvement on the Active Transportation Plan links. It says, "The surveys can be completed online at, at a computer kiosk on the first floor of the Library or by scanning the QR codes below." In other words, unlike that Active Transportation Survey this one invites people to the library to take the surveys. Combined with its prominence on the front page and clear explanations call this one a single putting runners at first and third.

We come to the last part which demonstrates a much clearer desire for broader public engagement.

Invitation to In Person Surveys - April 2022
Source: City of Richardson

Don't know what a QR Code is? You aren't digital savvy? Don't own a computer? No problem! Come on down to the library, Senior Center, etc and fill it out the old fashioned way. Kudos to the City of Richardson staff for making that happen. Call this one a double driving two runs in.

Why not a coveted home run?

I still call these great improvements base hits (instead of a home run) because of the content and overall engagement strategy. There is a suggestion that much about these projects has already been decided. For example, the voters already approved a bond program. There is a proud suggestion that one architect and developer perform both projects. How is it that if the City Council and management do not know the public's opinion, we would call a bond election and know we needed the same architect and developer?

As I discussed in the previous piece on engagement just simply asking complex questions often does not produce information that serves the public interest. Nonetheless this is a vast improvement and shows thoughtfulness in getting citizen responses.

If you read that last piece you would remember that surveys were one thing among many and that I would post a future piece giving my suggestions.

Grab a stadium dog with the works, a large beverage of your choice, fill out those surveys, and enjoy the game.

No comments:

Post a Comment