Urban stroll in Metz
all rights reserved
Arrow to the leftArrow to the right

In Metz: online citizen participation in the station district activates the winning tandem of digital and face-to-face!

In Metz, the City, the Metropolis and the Grand Est Region have put users and residents at the heart of the urban project for the station, to meet the challenges of mobility, intermodality and urban planning by 2030, based on the experience and analysis of the user journey.

During the consultation conducted with the support of Res publica, online citizen participation played a fundamental role. On the consultation platform Jenparleconsultation platform, the inhabitants and users of the station area were able to learn about the project and give their opinions, by immersing themselves in the field thanks to digital technology. The 2 proposed consultation tools allowed to bring the user closer to the field and to massify the citizen involvement:

The answers that have been gathered on the platform come from participants who have experienced participation on site or remotely. While waiting for the synthesis of all the contributions, we asked Micaël Daval, in charge of the Mobility and Transport Pole of the Eurometropole of Metz, to share with us the experience of combining face-to-face and digital participation thanks to Jenparle.

Urban stroll with Jenparle

What was your project? Why did you consult your citizens?

M.D. : The purpose of the MUM(Metz Urban Mobility) project is to co-construct an action plan for 2030 to revitalize the station area through actions related to mobility, public spaces, urban planning, signage, green spaces, shops, safety, etc.

The consultation requested by the City, the Metropolis and the Region was aimed at carrying out a study that would make the city stand out from the crowd, thanks to strong proposals based on the experience and needs of users. In this context, the grouping to which Res publica belongs proposed an ambitious approach to involve all types of public: elected officials, socio-professionals, but also residents, people who work in the district, those who are just passing through... As with most participatory mechanisms, the challenge was to succeed in getting people to express themselves who do not usually do so.  

What consultation tools have you used? Why or why not?

M.D.: The consultation tools that we used were proposed by the study group: field surveys; questionnaires administered on the different squares, in the markets, and online; workshops and walks with the inhabitants and elected officials in person and remotely.

Jenparle proposed:

Why integrate online citizen participation?

M.D.: The starting point was the Covid crisis and the fear of not being able to do public meetings and of falling behind. So we asked the candidates in the competitive dialogue to propose digital solutions. But beyond the Covid itself, we were counting on innovation to reach other types of targets, such as young people and people who don't come to public meetings because they don't have the time or the desire... The platform and the interactive walk are modern and attractive. Jenparle also allows people to express themselves outside the hours of public meetings, at midnight if they want, or even in several times.

What about participation during the field trip? Did the public only participate on Jenparle, or could they also participate in writing?

M.D.: During the stroll of the elected officials and the stroll of the socio-professionals in the field, in the presence of Res publica, some participants scanned the QR codes installed in the public space and answered directly on Jenparle, others preferred to scribble on paper. Res publica's teams then collected written elements and took note of what they could report themselves on the platform for the participants.

There were also people who submitted contributions without doing the walk in person, because they already knew the area. It was possible to contribute to the walk without physically doing it, which was very convenient for some.

The partner associations could also organize their own walks with citizens, and thus collect responses. We can mention "Metz à Vélo", which collected a lot of elements during the walk they organized. Finally, passers-by have connected because they discovered the QR codes on the station's forecourt and answered online to the questions asked.

Urban walk with Res publica in Metz

Why did you couple online consultation tools with face-to-face meetings? What did the digital tools bring that the face-to-face tools did not, and vice versa?

M.D.: The interest of digital technology is to reach more people. Without Jenparle, which made it possible to multiply self-organized urban walks, we would have had to organize dozens of walks, and have more people. But as a participant, when you have an investigator or a facilitator in front of you, it's also easier to bounce back and dig into the questions: so it's good to do both. Not everyone has a smartphone either, and on the phone, participants sometimes tend to be less precise in their contributions. It's easier on the computer, people type longer and more detailed answers.

So I think Jenparle is a very well thought-out tool for the complementarity between digital and face-to-face, which allows to reach more people, including discreet people: it allows them to express themselves without being cut off by people who easily impose themselves.

Which audiences do you think are reached online and in person?

M.D.: I think it's the availability of people that makes the difference. In person, you have to take more time, and it's often at times that don't always suit everyone. Online participation can be done while waiting for the bus, for example, or when there is waiting time that was not planned. It allows us to reach people who do not usually have the time to mobilize . This explains why, with digital technology, we reach people who are a little different.

With digital technology, people who are not attracted by a classic walk can also participate. In the public space, intrigued people who passed in front of the signs of the walk had to scan the QR code and answer out of curiosity, while they were not even aware of the study and the consultation. Here again we see the importance of combining face-to-face and distance learning, and we can see that the two complement each other.

What advice can you offer to someone who would start to make the platform available to their audience?  

M.D.: For the success of the operation, we must not neglect any communication channel, because not everyone is on social networks. For the users who frequent the station, for those who are not connected to the networks and who will not watch the institutional communication, the poster in the street is very effective. And near a train station even more so: people take the train and may have had time to respond during their journey or while waiting on the forecourt.

What will happen now?

M.D.: We will continue to use the tool for the rest of the process because it is very interesting and indispensable for mobilizing the maximum number of people, in addition to the traditional field survey. It also allows us to maintain the link and is a channel for passing on information: even if people don't participate, citizens ask to be informed.

It also makes it possible to communicate the results of the consultation and for participants to see detailed summaries of the responses.

Gilles-Laurent RAYSSAC, Camille BOURDIER and Pétronille CAMPHUIS
January 2023
Res publica logoArrow to the left