Urban Interactive Studio is a Denver-based consulting firm that specializes in web-based participation solutions for local governments, private planning firms, corporations, and non-profits. UIS offers a variety of platforms and tools that clients can select to create a flexible, customized public engagement system at generally modest cost.
The most comprehensive of the UIS platforms for the purposes of public participation and engagement is Engaging Plans. This platform allows clients to disseminate information about projects or policies to stakeholders, as well as collect feedback and ideas about these projects and policies from community members.
While the latest update to the platform ensures that it is generally ready to use ‘out of the box’, there are a large number of customizable features that clients can also use to maximize the relevance of the platform. Engaging Plans sites feature surveys, event calendars, document libraries for consolidating and sharing information with community members, and ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons on all shareable content, to integrate with the various social media platforms. Moderators can control and edit content, and can grant different users varying privileges and levels of access based on their assigned role.
UIS is one of the oldest and most established of US-based online public engagement providers, and it is the most flexible and most customizable to a specific project, including such available functions as password-protected stakeholder discussion areas, PDF annotation and others. Sites are built on a Drupal platform, which accounts for the much higher level of flexibility, as compared to most “app” style sites.
The Drupal interface allows for a much higher level of direct administrative control than most platforms, and the nature of the Drupal coding base means that administrators who have the capacity can revise the source code themselves. EngagingPlans sites are also designed to work seamlessly on both conventional computers and on mobile devices, making it one of few platforms in this space to have given substantial attention to date to the increasingly important mobile experience. EngagingPlans costs tend to vary widely based on the complexity of the proposed project.
NOTE: Wise Economy Workshop and Urban Interactive Studio have a partnership agreement to operate the online magazine EngagingCities.