Citizens of East Tennessee are invited to "play" with online plan documents

Who actually reads an entire plan document? Not many people, because the traditional presentation of a plan - even if it’s put online - is often wordy, long, and technical. In 2014, people expect more than a clunky PDF from their governing bodies and planning organizations. People want to have their curiosity piqued and their feedback requested. In short, people want to be engaged.

Plan East Tennessee (PlanET), a partnership of communities investing in the improvement of the Eastern region of the state, realized that their presentation of ideas would get better traction if presented in a playful format that allowed citizens to learn and explore through content discovery. PlanET had lots of great information to share, but it was all tied up in static PDFs like this one - which didn’t leave a lasting impression or invite feedback. There had to be a better option.

So PlanET built their new Regional Playbook on our Interactive Plan app, featuring a building-block format that can include interactive text, questions, and feedback options. The new Playbook presents information in easily digestible bits, highlighted by compelling infographics. The natural curiosity of the audience guides them to click through to more details about topics that matter to them, making it simple to get an overall feel for the project and find interesting content with ease.

What about feedback? While the old PDF had no way to engage citizens, the new Playbook is fully interactive, featuring trivia questions and other opportunities for citizen input. For example, instead of just “talking at” citizens about issues and initiatives, each page of the Playbook includes an opinion box with questions like “What’s missing?” or “What’s currently happening that is relevant?” Questions like these can help PlanET get more focused responses from the public, leading to a better development of the final plan.

By deploying the EngagingPlans App Suite, PlanET was able to bring their plan documents to life, inviting exploration of the subject and encouraging citizens to discover information instead of just reading it. This is a “document” that will stick in the minds of users, and provides PlanET with valuable input from the public.