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2020 was a landmark year for both global digital engagement and The HiVE team. Our users achieved remarkable outcomes for their communities and accelerated the practice and adoption of digital engagement into 2021.

To celebrate and reflect on the current state of the industry, we hosted our first-ever user conference in March 2021.

The conference theme From Resilience to Innovation recognised the effectiveness of digital engagement in responding to the immediate and unexpected challenges of 2020. More importantly, it focused on how the lessons learned can be carried forward to drive permanent and lasting innovation in community engagement.

A selection of inspiring speakers and our expert user community members shared their stories and experiences in 2021, and their perspective on what the future holds for the digital engagement industry.

You can catch up on all the action and view recordings of the sessions below.

Day 1 (March 17)

Conference Kick-Off

Cindy Lenferna de la Motte (Head of Customer and Community) and Adam Smith (Co-founder) welcome you to the 2021 HiVE User Conference. Adam talks about upcoming features planned for the product roadmap along with other initiatives for the coming year.

Digital Engagement Trends

Cindy Lenferna de la Motte (Head of Customer and Community) shares her perspective on the key trends that will drive digital engagement practice in 2021 and beyond.

Key talking points:

  • Digital Trends
  • The Age of the Citizen
  • Technology Drivers
  • Lessons from 2020

Guest Speakers: Dr. Audrey Lobo-Pulo and Hanna Duncan Jones - Deliberative Engagement

Dr Audrey Lobo-Pulo (Founder Phoensight) shares insights into how she sees digital technology supporting deliberative processes of engagement.

Key takeaways:

  • Deliberative engagement is a journey of learning together
  • Citizens have a nuanced understanding of their communities and what is happening in those communities.
  • Mutual sharing and learning shapes better decision making

Hannah Duncan-Jones (Director Policy and Strategy - Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions - State Government of Victoria) discusses her experience in creating the State Government of Victoria's (Australia) Local Government Act 2020 which enshrines the concept of deliberative processes into the legislative framework.

(Hannah starts at 25:36)

Key questions posed:

  • What is the state of progress across Victoria?
  • What are the key challenges?
  • How are these being overcome?
  • Has Covid had an impact and if so, how is that playing out?
  • How successful has the move from a prescriptive to principle based model been?
  • What are some of the key take outs at this stage of the implementation?
  • How are smaller entities faring?
  • How are you seeing the new reforms meeting the ambitions of improved democracy, accountability and service delivery?
  • What advice would you provide for those that are struggling to meet deadlines?
  • Where can people go for help and support?

Day 2 (24 March 2021)

Guest Speaker: Valli Morphett - Design Jam

Valli (Director) is a placemaking thought leader, webinar guru and co-design specialist who knows how to mobilise a local support base and facilitate outcomes that people trust.

With over a decade of experience inside Local Government leading placemaking and engagement teams, backed up by a decade within leading edge placemaking consulting firms – Valli knows how to deliver social impact and economic outcomes in main streets and activity centres.

Valli shares placemaking examples that have been inspired or supported by digital engagement practices and innovations. Special reference was made to what has been possible in our cities during 2020 even with Covid restrictions on face-to-face engagement.

Case Study: City of Pittsburgh (USA)

Sophia Robison (Neighbourhood Planner)is the Project Coordinator for the 10-year plan of Pittsburgh’s University District and created standards for public engagement following a year-long public process and numerous training with the International Association for Public Participation. She most recently led the City’s COVID response to public engagement by bringing on Harvest DP’s The HiVE to host a citywide engagement portal called EngagePGH.

Sophia explores the City's recent journey of digital engagement on Engage Pittsburgh, and shares her perspective as a Millennial urban planner, on the role of digital engagement in creating participatory processes for important city projects.

Case Study: San Diego Food System Alliance (USA)

Rachel Oporto (Network and Advocacy Manager) and Margaret Chiu (Communications and Storytelling Manager) provide their insights into how digital engagement is effectively used by a not for profit to strenghten the food system of a diverse region via Engage SDFA.

Key discussion points:

  • Seek to improve the lives of all residents, and engage stakeholders in our food system - from farmers and farm workers, to food business and food workers, fishermen, non-profit organisations, to the waste haulers and our goverment.
  • How The Hive really helped to reach all of our stakeholders and residents of marginalized communities in a way that spoke to them
  • Evolution of the platform to view results, and report back after deep community engagement
  • The pivot to digital engagement due to COVID, ambition to really still engage equitably
  • Discuss the benefits of using The HIVE in this process
  • Lessons learned

Case Study: Canterbury Bankstown (AUS)

Somphors Vorn (Creative Engagement Officer) has been working within the digital industry for over 15 years. With a background in web design and digital production within the media and advertising industry, she is now utilising that experience to innovate CBCity's engagement practices.

Working as Canterbury-Bankstown's Creative Engagement Officer, she specialises in digital engagement, managing Council's Have Your Say website whilst supporting traditional engagement methods with digital technologies.

Anston Ratnayake (Community Engagement Officer) has been passionate about community engagement throughout his working career. He is a communication and stakeholder engagement professional with proven experience in community consultation, media management and government relations.

Somphors and Anston share the creative ways they are using to engage citizens on their Have Your Say site. They discuss the Council's philosophy to innovation and creativity and how this approach flows through to their digital engagement practise and projects.

Case Study: City of Canada Bay (AUS)

Sarah Corry (Community Engagement Co-ordinator) develops and rolls out the Council's community consultation strategies across all areas of the organisation. Her focus is to build internal capabilities and drive a culture of two-way communication and collaboration between citizens and Council to build a successful city into the future.

Sarah explores how they used their Collaborate Canada Bay channel to quickly respond to the challenges of Covid-19 while they were emerging. They showcase their online business hub and economic recovery initiatives that help the community through the early days of the crises.

Sarah discusses how The HiVE been able to support the organisations digital engagement ambitions and deliver some unexpected outcomes.

Day 3 (31 March)

Guest Speaker: Gilbert Rochecouste - Village Well

Gilbert (Founder of Village Well) is recognised as a leading voice in creating great places for people. He has worked with over 1,000 cities, towns, main streets, universities, property developers, government organisations, and communities over the past 25 years; crafting a powerful integrated approach to creating vibrant, resilient, and loved places.

Gilbert shares stories of possibility, optimism, and opportunity from community-based projects focussed on recovery and rejuvenation.

“The wisdom lies in the community” | empowered citizens directly participate in the decisions affecting their lives communities and local ecologies.

Talking points:

  • Essence of place - Placemaking is the art of creating meaningful, inclusive and connected places.
  • Regeneration - Is where we put back more into our ecological and social fabric than we take out.
  • Social equity - The more equal distribution of public resources, infrastructure, and goods.
  • Local democracy - Online engagement, hyper localism, collective activism
  • Culture - Is the meaning-making - it is the glue within the community

Case Study: City of Calgary (CAN)

Derek Heric (Leader of the Engage Resource Unit), Marcie Dupuis (Public Engagement Planner) and Martin Kemp (Engage Team Supervisor) discuss the lessons learned of the past few years with Engage Calgary. They share their story of how the Covid-19 crisis sparked an organisational pivot to digital engagement and their subsequent transformational journey.

Case Study: Melbourne Water (AUS)

Melissa Cordy (Digital Engagement Lead) is an emerging digital engagement specialist and trailblazer. She currently leads digital engagement for Melbourne Water and is at the forefront of digital engagement design, incorporating new immersive technologies and emerging techniques like Gamification as part of Melbourne Waters Next Generation engagement approach.

Mel started her journey using the HiVE in late 2017 and has since built the profile of Melbourne Water YourSay Platform and embedded digital as a core part of Melbourne Water’s engagement practice.

Mel discusses Melbourne Water's award-winning Next Generation Community Engagement Program and how digital engagement has been effectively used in their exciting and innovative projects on their Your Say channel.

Melbourne Water was named IAP2 Australasian Organisation of the Year 2020. They received international recognition for their industry-leading approach to community engagement - winning the coveted International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Australasian Organisation of the Year Award.

Case Study: City of Moreland

Natalie McGlone (Coordinator of Community Engagement) is an interdisciplinary Urban Planner and trained Facilitator with skills in strategy, project management, and community engagement.

Her portfolio experience includes the planning and implementation of complex planning projects involving multiple stakeholders and public participation including urban master plans, structure plans, infrastructure plans and more.

Natalie shares the city's remarkable journey from community engagement underdogs to digital engagement heroes, and how they did it over such a short period of time. They also discuss the foundational work they are doing to ensure that everyone in Council is receiving digital engagement training, and the distributed authorship approach used on their Conversations Moreland channel.