Neo-planning: Location-based social media to engage Australia’s new digital locals

Schroeter, Ronald & Houghton, Kirralie (2011) Neo-planning: Location-based social media to engage Australia’s new digital locals. Australian Planner, 48(3), pp. 191-202.

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Community engagement with time poor and seemingly apathetic citizens continues to challenge local governments. Capturing the attention of a digitally literate community who are technology and socially savvy adds a new quality to this challenge. Community engagement is resource and time intensive, yet local governments have to manage on continually tightened budgets. The benefits of assisting citizens in taking ownership in making their community and city a better place to live in collaboration with planners and local governments are well established. This study investigates a new collaborative form of civic participation and engagement for urban planning that employs in-place digital augmentation. It enhances people’s experience of physical spaces with digital technologies that are directly accessible within that space, in particular through interaction with mobile phones and public displays.

The study developed and deployed a system called Discussions in Space (DIS) in conjunction with a major urban planning project in Brisbane. Planners used the system to ask local residents planning-related questions via a public screen, and passers-by sent responses via SMS or Twitter onto the screen for others to read and reflect, hence encouraging in-situ, real-time, civic discourse. The low barrier of entry proved to be successful in engaging a wide range of residents who are generally not heard due to their lack of time or interest. The system also reflected positively on the local government for reaching out in this way. Challenges and implications of the short-texted and ephemeral nature of this medium were evaluated in two focus groups with urban planners. The paper concludes with an analysis of the planners’ feedback evaluating the merits of the data generated by the system to better engage with Australia’s new digital locals.

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ID Code: 46018
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Special Issue: Congress papers from the Planning Institute of Australia 2011 National Congress
Keywords: neo-planning, information technologies, communication, consultation, planning
DOI: 10.1080/07293682.2011.595059
ISSN: 2150-6841
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > TECHNOLOGY (100000) > COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES (100500)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING (120500)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING (120500) > Land Use and Environmental Planning (120504)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Taylor & Francis
Copyright Statement: This is a preprint of an article whose final and definitive form has been published in the Australian Planner (C) 2011 (copyright Taylor & Francis); Australian Planner is available online at:
Deposited On: 22 Nov 2011 00:25
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2015 22:20

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