Ken Cameron, past Manager of Policy and Planning with the Greater Vancouver Regional District and a member of the PlaceSpeak Board of Directors, talks about the importance of the survey.
I just finished filling out the 2012 Metro Vancouver Urban Futures Opinion Survey . I’m told that it’s truly unique in the world of surveys. I can honestly say that I’ve never filled out one quite like it before. It has a lot of transit oriented content, so I was of course compelled to complete it.
The focus of the Urban Futures Survey is to, ” … allow communities across the region to forecast and anticipate the needs and desires of the Lower Mainland’s 2.1 million residents. The survey will be instrumental in meeting the long-term social and economic goals of the region.” It’s broken up into the following six sections: Demographics/Household, Employment, Housing, Recreation/Leisure, Transportation, and Regional Content. These fall under the main themes of the survey: Environment – protecting the environment and responding to climate change impact, Community Life – developing complete communities, Mobility – supporting sustainable transportation choices, Built Environment, Managing Growth – creating a compact urban area, Governance, and Economy – supporting a sustainable economy.
It’s the third in a series of surveys, the first of which was in 1973 followed by the second in 1990. In 1973, roughly 1,500 residents of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) were surveyed. In 1990, UBC professor, Dr. Walter G. Hardwick, conducted a second survey with nearly as many people surveyed in person and over the telephone. This latest survey, led by Dr. Hardwick’s daughter, Colleen Hardwick (Nystedt), is expanding the type of data collected and using modern means to collect it. PlaceSpeak  is a location-based public consultation platform developed by Colleen Hardwick that not only allows the survey to be administer online, but as Ken Cameron puts it, “…allows [people], if they’re interested in it, to have an ongoing level of participation and input on all kinds of issues that affect their neighbourhood, their home and the future of their region.”
Once you’ve registered with PlaceSpeak, you can click on the interactive map that shows users as green dots on the map. The idea is to connect people geographically with topics surrounding their area of Metro Vancouver. You can browse for topics or create one of you own.
Speaking with Colleen Harwick, she told me that her hope is that this survey will generate close to 15,000 respondents and that PlaceSpeak will live on as a valuable resource to the community. She’s excited about the hard and usable data that it will provide to all users including decision makers and planners.
The survey starts now and runs until the end of April 2012. If you have 20-25 minutes to take the survey, I can honestly say it was easy and interesting. Let me know what you think of it!