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6. Using PubPub for citizen consultations

Published onJun 17, 2021
6. Using PubPub for citizen consultations
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Now that we know what PubPub is, and we understand the importance of public consultations, we have reached the most important part of this guide: preparation and construction of a platform where you can create your own consultation process.

Preliminary preparations for the consultation

The first thing to do before starting to put anything together in PubPub is to choose which process to carry out.

The use of PubPub as a platform for citizen participation to carry out public consultations corresponds to certain types of scenarios, which must be known in detail in order to understand the capabilities and use cases of the platform.

There are three types of scenarios to choose from, which can be combined according to the needs of each process: open, private, and document loading . It is important to understand that the three cases presented below were used for the public consultation of the Consejo Nuevo León, and should not be taken as the only possible modalities of use. The possibilities of Pub Pub are very wide, due to its versatility, and each user could reinvent these processes or create new ones depending on their creativity, needs, and the technical possibilities of the platform.

Scenario types

Open

This is the simplest, and most open, use case that can be given to PubPub in terms of public consultation. The open process seeks to enable anyone registered on the platform to make annotations and comments freely.

This process is semi-automatic, and does not depend on a personalized invitation by the user. It is only necessary for the user to register using the platform link. He or she will have the basic permissions to comment, but not to edit. On the administrator's side, you will have to put the pubs to Comment within a public page for this to be possible.

Suggestions for use: consultation processes open to all citizens.

More information on how to create an Open process is available in the specialized guides.

Public

This process is basically the same as the open one, but with the particularity that only users with an invitation will be able to comment in certain pubs, enabled for them. This scenario is more complex, since the user will have to give the administrator's username so that he can give him the necessary permissions to be able to participate in certain collections, which in turn contain pubs.

Although it has more steps and takes more time for the platform manager, it is a very good possibility for cases where you want to use the contribution of groups of people specialized in certain topics, or in certain strategic sectors.

Suggestions for use: for pre-defined groups or individuals who will do a more thorough and integral review.

More information on how to create an Open process is available in the specialized guides.

Uploading documents: open and private

The other mode of use allows users to upload any type of document to specific collections or, failing that, to create one directly in the PubPub word processor. In fact, this is the most flexible process for the user, since the user is free to write and edit what they consider pertinent. This process can be open or private.

If made private, the user needs to get access by administrators to designated collections to create or upload a pub. However, it is also possible to do it in a public and totally open way so that any previously registered person can also upload files.

Suggestions for use: for people, institutions, or groups that need to give their opinion or contribute in a more complete way for the consultation.

More information on how to create an Open process is available in the specialized guides.

As may be seen, the possibilities are many, because we can insert and make unions between scenarios. In fact, the Consejo Nuevo León used all three scenarios simultaneously (no open document upload was used). It is up to each team to choose the scenarios that suit them best. It is recommended that the best possibilities be chosen consistently, based on the degree of specialization of the contribution sought, as well as the level of openness that is desirable within the consultation. The following image can help the reader to decide:

Administrators

Once one or more scenarios have been chosen to carry out depending on the objectives sought, it is necessary to set up a work team to manage the administration of the platform.

There really is no golden rule for this, as it will largely depend on the time availability and the personnel that can support the process. For example, in the case of Consejo Nuevo León, there was a person who set up the platform and who was 24/7 looking at possible glitches and errors, as well as capturing contributions in the database. Another person was registering all the people in each of their corresponding collections on the platform, and was also in charge of sending invitations to institutions and experts. However, the entire CONL team contributed ideas and suggestions for the design of the page and its contents. This can vary from organization to organization, but it is recommended to have four very important profiles:

  1. A main manager of the platform: in charge of assembling and preparing everything for the technical process. Create pages, upload documents, guides, images, etc.

  2. A content manager: in charge of verifying that all the content on the platform is well written and organized.

  3. An invitation manager: in charge of sending and confirming invitations, as well as giving them access to the platform when appropriate.

  4. A contribution manager: in charge of filling in the database and analyzing the validity of each of the comments.

You may choose to have one person who does everything, or four different people, or two or three who share responsibilities. The possibilities are endless, and will only face limitations based on the amount of manpower available.

Schedule and possible deadlines

This is another aspect that is very important, but at the same time very flexible, which will depend largely on certain issues. Issues include: need for special support by the PubPub team, results delivery dates, level of complexity of the consultation, amount of information needed to review, and the number of people who are expected to participate, among other things. Because each process has its peculiarities, what is presented below is an example, based on CONL, that can be interpreted to help establish dates.

  1. Preparation: this process lasted approximately two months. This was mainly because we sought support from the PubPub team and their services were hired, which involves administrative issues. In addition, sketches and mockups of the platform were made, which began to be prepared at the same time that administrative issues were discussed. Overall, the process of agreeing with the PubPub team and the content design and creation team took two months. This process may take less time if specialist support is not needed. It may take longer if the consultation process has too much content.

  2. Invitations: this process was parallel to the design and content creation process, and lasted approximately two weeks. Although this is a constant process, it will always have last minute changes.

  3. Consultation: this process lasted 2 weeks, from September 23 to October 7, 2020. The reasons for this were mainly defined by the prevailing need of CONL to accommodate times established by law.

  4. Review of comments: along with the consultation process, each of the sections were checked to collect and analyze comments. The checking process generally took two weeks. However, an extra week was used to give a second review by the entire operational team, in order to better analyze comment by comment.

  5. Integration of contributions: 1 to 2 weeks were used to integrate comments into different chapters of the Strategic Plan. This step is probably the most imprecise for us to advise upon, as each process is different. In fact, there were differences even internally: while some chapters incorporated the comments in 2-3 days, others were still in the process weeks later.

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