5 BIG considerations for BIG infrastructure projects

One look at a major Australian city right now and you’ll be sure to find big infrastructure projects in play.

Infrastructure moves us, houses us, supports us, and entertains us. So, when it comes to major infrastructure it’s little wonder we need to engage with the community to get it right.

We know infrastructure projects require time, space, people, money and often cause disruption to a community. But the benefits can be enormous, and given the chance, people will often embrace change.

When engaging on infrastructure we face many challenges, often big challenges, that with careful consideration and forward strategic planning can be addressed.

  1. Infrastructure involves people – lots of them – from internal stakeholders including employees, to external stakeholders including residents, government, and council. Be mindful to engage all of your stakeholders by making it easy to participate, and targeting stakeholders in ways they want to be engaged.
  2. Engage early – get stakeholders involved in the conversation before the project starts. It’s tempting to kick off a project before you engage, but if you take your stakeholders on a journey from the beginning they are more likely to be supportive or willing to engage.
  3. Infrastructure often has big budgets, but spending big on engagement and hoping for good outcomes won’t cut it. Always seek value for money by targeting your engagement through methods that will resonate. You might use a mix of engagement to ensure people have multiple opportunities to have their say.
  4. Don’t underestimate face-to-face engagement. People like to engage in conversation and want to be heard. Infrastructure projects can be disruptive to people’s lives, and by offering a listening ear in a supportive environment, they may feel more willing to look at solutions rather than problems.
  5. Keep an open mind. You might think you know what is best, but often when you engage new ideas are thrown in the mix that actually make sense. External factors can also influence how a project proceeds, and this may only come to light through the engagement process.

Some of the ways we’ve engaged for large scale infrastructure projects in the past include:

  • Online storytelling surveys
  • Augmented Reality – showcasing future design
  • Interactive sculptural surveys, using touch to explore values
  • Pop up stalls, offering digital experiences and chatting to people in location
  • Workshops to explore new possibilities
  • Data – exploring existing data sets and social media to determine how people feel about a project

If you want to know more about how to engage for infrastructure projects, contact us.