IPWEA's Yardstick Surveys program does exactly this for the parks activity. It uses an intercept methodology asking parks users while they are on the park how they would score the importance of certain assets and services are (e.g. furniture, toilets, shade, paths, safety etc), and then how satisfied they are with these same assets and services. The difference between importance and satisfaction represents the service level gap.
IPWEA Parks Management Practice Note 10.3 – Levels of Service has some good information on different consultation techniques, and there are some to aim for, and others to avoid in trying to find out the answers you might be after. Summarised these are:
You could combine methods 3 and 4. During method 3, ask if people would like to have more input in a focus group, and with some incentives, you should get good representation for method 4.
The first thing to think about is who the users are (what style of communication suits them and when they are available). That will determine the best method of communicating with them.
Secondly, the type of asset determines the target groups who rely on it. So for footpaths for example, it's really important to get people with a disability who rely on them. For sports, there will be clubs and peak bodies for example who will inform expectations related to specific assets.
Different demographic groups require different methods of invitation and opportunities for feedback.
We would typically do online surveys that are promoted through different mediums to target different people. These enable you to cross tab answers by demographic profile, for example by age group and gender.
Forums are very expensive to run, and time-consuming for participants. They have a very narrow reach unless you have a forum for each user type and demographic group.
We often promote the opportunity to provide feedback via Facebook and posters on-site with QR codes for example. You can email links to an online survey to member groups or those who have registered on your Council you say platform, as well run an intercept survey.
If the Council has an online engagement platform with a large number of registered users, it isn't a bad idea to use that to ascertain expectations from non-users around certain types of assets. As many people may not be users because the assets don't meet their needs.
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