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CommunityNotes wants to help councils and communities collaborate on developments

If you’ve ever had to do anything around your property that needed to go through your local Council for approval, you know it’s a complicated, time consuming process: you have to register the project with the Council, alert your neighbours, and give them time to consider the development and give feedback.

Geospatial analytics startup Ruppells Griffon has launched CommunityNotes, a platform to help streamline this process for developers. The web-based platform allows both developers to provide visualisations and other information about a proposed development, and community stakeholders to leave feedback and engage in conversations with each other about it.

Ana Ouriques, founder of Ruppells Griffon, said the app was created in partnership with community consultants to solve some of the major problems they were constantly coming up against.

“As with many technology innovations, we found an existing process that was inefficient in many respects. It took too long, it cost too much, and there was no facility for information exchange within the relevant community,” she said.

“[CommunityNotes] saves time, and also increases engagement level, as it reduces all the friction in the process. Stakeholders can easily add their feedback on the project at any time, and from any device.”

An example of a development  on CommunityNotes
An example of a development on CommunityNotes

The traditional community engagement process usually sees information about developments exhibited in Council offices, and discussions take place in community forums and meetings. Essentially, CommunityNotes brings these two processes together.

Ruppells Griffon will work with its council and developer clients to help them customise the app for specific development proposals. Residents will be able to access the app from any browser and add comments and feedback, as well as participate in conversations with other residents.

The project owners can then get access to real-time monitoring and analytics to see how the community is reacting.

Ouriques believes that the conversation aspect is one of the most significant features in the app.

“To date this level of transparency hasn’t been possible using the traditional community engagement model,” Ouriques said.

Though CommunityNotes provides a much-needed update to this model, there is the question of how to get residents to use the platform; after all, getting their feedback is the whole point. It must also be considered that older residents – who are often most interested in community developments – may not be internet users at all.

The app is available to councils and developers through a monthly subscription fee, meaning clients can pay to use the app only for specific projects, if needed.

With the app launched earlier this month at CeBIT, Ouriques said it has potential to be used in a range of industries including infrastructure, environment, utilities, and transport.

“There is huge potential for this to be used with companies that are in building and development. We have designed this app to be as broad as possible – it can be used by anyone that needs to get feedback from stakeholders on a land-based project,” she said.

Ruppells Griffon has also launched a free version of the app called YourSay, which lets users share information about their neighbourhoods, such as traffic alerts, crime news, and community issues.

Ouriques said, “YourSay uses the same underlying technology as CommunityNotes, making it the perfect platform for citizens that want to participate in making their neighbourhoods as safe and family-friendly as possible.”

“We’re expecting this to be the ‘gateway drug’ that pulls people over into the paid service when they need more control and customisation for specific projects.”