Community Consultation Via Text Message a First in Western Canada
Trail area residents are breaking new ground using mobile technology in the Trail Area Health and Environment Program’s community consultation. The community is the first in Western Canada to use text messaging to get public feedback from residents.
“We chose texting because we know people have busy lives: we want to make it quick and easy for residents to give input about our programs,” said Trail Area Health and Environment Committee Chair, Mayor Mike Martin. “The committee has already received feedback from over 200 people, about a third of that by text message. We’d like to double that number before the consultation ends on Oct. 31.”
More and more people use cell phones to text, surf online or stay in touch with work, family and friends. The Trail Area Health and Environment Program has contracted with Textizen, a US-based company, to provide an innovative mobile platform and capitalize on the speed of communications technology to encourage people to give input. Local residents can text their feedback in about two minutes, then Textizen compiles and organizes that feedback for analysis. The platform has been used successfully to gather community input in projects across the US and large cities in Central Canada.
“We want to reach as many residents as possible, to find out what people think of our programs and goals for Air Quality, Family Health, and Home and Garden,” said Martin. “Our program is driven by the community and depends on local input to know if programs are meeting current needs and if our health and environment goals are acceptable.”
To participate in the consultation by text message, simply text the letter A, B, C or D to 778-200-7601 in response to the question, “What is the best thing about living in the Trail Area? A) The people, B) The lifestyle, C) Support for families, or D) Other.” That starts a short survey that takes a couple of minutes to complete. We hope residents will get on their cell phones and help meet our target.
About the Trail Area Health and Environment Program
The Trail Area Health amd Environment Program (THEP) is a community-led program with five main areas of activity: Family Health, Home and Garden, Air Quality, Parks and Wildlands, and Property Development. THEP promotes a healthy environment through a comprehensive integrated program that successfully improves air quality and children’s blood lead levels, and promotes the health of the community. The Air Quality Program reduces smelter emissions and makes the largest contribution to achieving health and environment goals. All program activities work together to reduce health risks, lower exposure and a support a healthier environment.
The Trail Area Health and Environment Committee (THEC) oversees the program. THEC is a partnership between the local community, Teck, the Ministry of Environment, and Interior Health. Over the past quarter century of successful collaboration, children’s blood lead levels in Trail have reduced significantly and air quality has greatly improved. THEC’s community-led partnership has been recognized internationally as an effective collaborative model for safeguarding health and the environment. In 2011 the program received a Premier’s Innovation and Excellence Award for Partnership. For more information please visit www.thep.ca