What are the most important things the City of Nelson should consider in exploring new designs for the Welcome to Nelson signs?
That’s the first question in the city’s online public survey about replacement of the signs, using ThoughtExchange, a group discussion and survey software developed in Rossland.
As respondent to the welcome signs survey you can reply to that question, then add your reasons, and then add further thoughts, each time in 150 characters or less. You can also see other people’s ideas (anonymously) and vote on them by ranking them up or down.
Ranking is an important part of the process: ideas ranked up by others take on more influence, whereas thoughts ranked down find their place closer to the bottom.
The process can also be educational. Because you can see the thoughts of others in real time as people fill out the survey, you may be attracted to ideas you had not considered.
This process follows the recent news that the three signs that stand at the three entrances to Nelson are deteriorating and need to be replaced. The city might redesign them, depending on public input.
City planner Sebastien Arcand says the city has used the ThoughtExchange process several times, including one to gauge citizen’s thoughts on water conservation and, currently, whether to change the speed limit in the city. That one is not complete yet but has 300 responses so far.
Arcand says the process is a big improvement on surveys that expect yes, no, or not sure, which results in a certain percentage of people in each of the three camps, but not much more.
“You don’t get any of the why are people in favour or why are people against it,” he says.
If the responses show that a majority of people don’t want to see the speed limit change, he says, with ThoughtExchange it might be discovered that what people really want is more enforcement, better visibility or more crosswalks.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got something to work with instead of just a yes, no.”
He said the technology lends itself to breaking the subject matter down in to common themes. In the case of the welcome signs, the common themes will be incorporated into a public design competition.
The deadline to have your say on the signs is May 24.