It would be easy to assume in these straitened times that we have to hold our collective breath before the world gets back to normal, but what will normal be and how long will that version of normal last?
At Iceni, we think it’s more effective to look at what’s already working and to apply and accelerate those ideas now – and not plan towards an arbitrary point in the future that we can’t control.
Let’s start with strategic planning. For some time now we have been using new tools to engage with key groups of people, for instance, video and animation to capture the attention of a younger demographic, or innovative digital engagement programmes to target specific geographical areas around future priorities. Given the current climate, we expect similar engagement tools becoming even more important over the coming months, acting as a catalyst for a permanent shift.
And in uncertain times, regular communication is even more vital for all projects whether this be for building or maintaining momentum or providing a platform for knowledge-sharing, all of us are going to be meeting more often virtually in video conferencing, webinars or whatever technological progress brings us next.
Obviously it cannot replace face-to-face interactions and the need to cater for all sections of a community; but it is unlikely we will go back to the old way of working completely as seen yesterday with the announcement by the Home Secretary of new measures to support Councils to embrace these changes, and the GLAs announcement they’ll continue with meetings via video.
We felt this only too keenly: with a pre-app for a major development site in the balance, we sprang into action and held our first ‘video’ pre-application site visit. Arranging a call between the LPA, planning, design and conservation teams, we were able to provide a presentation, 45-minute Q&A and a video ‘walkabout’ of the site. This worked so well that we’ve already scheduled another, proving that exploring alternatives pays off.
We’ve also just agreed with a client to film a site tour for upload to a website so people can gain an insight early in the process.
In times of uncertainty, it is time to diversify – methods that could be used more heavily at the current time are likely to include:
Online Q&A sessions to generate discussion;
Websites with up-to-date and accurate information on decisions and process;
Online presentations/videos to engage with the audience as best as possible; and
Iceni has a remote working plan in place and we are on hand to provide any advice or support you may have in these fast-changing times.