- Success Story
- Kent County Council
How Kent County Council creates a flexible online environment for engagement and consultation
Kent County Council (KCC) is constantly searching for ways to listen to what’s important to their residents and respond in effective and helpful ways. Their strategies and planning are informed by the views of residents, service users, stakeholders, and staff. After launching Let’s Talk Kent, a digital community engagement platform, they carried out over 420 projects — a mix of surveys, idea boards, stories, Q&As, quick polls, and more that have enabled them to better understand their constituency and how they can work together to maximise public value. Their trailblazing engagement efforts are why KCC is known as the ‘listening council.’ They were also finalists in the 2022 Granicus Public Sector Awards in both the Digital Achievement and Community Engagement categories.
In Just 16 Months Kent County Council Achieved:
- 420 engagement projects
- 23,431 active registered users
- 904,552 page views
- 130,192 informed residents
Broad, ongoing conversations
KCC set out to have more broad, ongoing conversations with residents about how to achieve better outcomes that improve quality-of-life, efficiency, and effectiveness. They were trying to figure out how to reach less involved residents. To solve this issue, the council decided to invest in a new digital engagement platform. In June 2021, using EngagementHQ — a community engagement solution by Granicus — the council launched Let’s Talk Kent. The wide range of engagement tools provided allowed the council to broaden their ability to engage with residents, service users, partners, and other stakeholders. They were able to fulfil and strengthen both their statutory duty to consult as well as develop the ways in which they engage with residents.
Exciting, welcoming, and flexible
The vision for Let’s Talk Kent was to create an exciting, welcoming, and flexible online environment for engagement and consultation, with a greater range of engagement tools that go beyond standard surveys. From the outset, KCC wanted to provide a broad range of activities across the platform. It was essential that the homepage, hubs, and project pages were all welcoming and user-friendly while maintaining consistent quality across the whole platform.
To achieve this, they established the following goals:
- Strengthen the formal consultation process and deliver tools to support ongoing conversations that make early and continuous engagement easier for KCC residents, service users, and partners
- Involve the entire organisation to engage residents from a range of backgrounds and areas on a variety of topics
- Seek to understand the views and priorities of residents and service users across Kent
- Deliver consistent and regular reporting that enables the council to understand who is and isn’t engaged
- Provide a central database to facilitate informed decision-making and audience targeting
- Use the data collected to inform how the council engages with the community in the future
Open, safe, and meaningful
The platform provides an open and safe environment for participants who can engage with the council and each other, including space for private moderated and facilitated forums. In the 16 months since the launch, KCC has carried out over 420 projects, including engagement for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, No Mow May, and Great Big Green Week (GBGW). For the Jubilee celebrations, EngagementHQ’s places tool was utilised to show where KCC members had volunteered, highlighting some brilliant charities and community initiatives, details of beacon lightings, and other local community events. The stories tool was used to hear from people about their volunteering efforts and the events taking place in their communities. No Mow May invited people to publicly make a pledge to forgo mowing their lawns to support pollinators. From the GBGW project page, people could find a green event or activity using the map, share their top green tips or ideas on the ideas board, and let the council know what green action(s) they were taking and what they needed more support with using a quick ‘pulse check’ survey.
This is just a taste of the range of activities the council has implemented so far. In total, KCC carried out 232 surveys and 21 idea boards. They have also utilised the stories, Q&A, and places tools as well as document commenting and quick polls with a total of 41,690 responses.
Let’s Talk Kent gave KCC the opportunity to engage and consult with their community, partners, and staff in a more creative and meaningful way, increasing participation by making it attractive and easy. In the past 16 months, KCC has built a cohort of 23,431 active registered users, with over half requesting to be kept informed. There have been 904,552 page views and 370,916 visits by 332,146 visitors. 30,567 participants have engaged with the site and 130,192 have been informed.
This high level of engagement is strengthening the decision-making processes, which is why Kent County Council is known as a ‘listening council.’
The growing number of diverse, registered users means KCC is building a community of engaged residents who are invested in the work of council services. The council is dedicated to the continued growth and involvement of this group of community members. The increased functionality of this new platform means KCC can host hubs for their statutory Highway, Public Rights of Way, and Minerals and Waste Planning Policy consultations that save the council money on separate platforms.
While face-to-face engagement will still be a preferred method in some circumstances, providing greater opportunities for online engagement is broadening the appeal and participation in engagement and consultation activities. Let’s Talk Kent also enables the council to save time and money by providing a wide range of in-house, digital engagement tools that support ongoing conversations with service users, residents, staff, and other stakeholders in a way that is convenient and accessible.