A pub called the Waterfront on a street in York partially submerged under flood water.

In the UK, flooding is one of the most pressing and severe threats we face from climate change. We’re a small island nation with most of our major cities built near or around a river or water source; few places in the UK aren’t at risk of flooding to some degree as evidenced by footage of London underwater a couple weeks ago.

Flood risk management is complex and tricky, particularly in built-up areas. Flood risk areas don’t conveniently end at city or county boundaries, and building or changing flood defences inevitably changes the landscape in some way, so managing these sorts of projects involves lots of moving parts and coordination between EPAs and different local authorities. It also involves lots of consultation with local residents whose homes and businesses will inevitably be affected.

Both the Environment Agency and SEPA have huge flood prevention projects on the go right now. They’re using their Citizen Space sites in unique ways in order to account for the complexity and scope of these projects and the associated engagement activities.

SEPA’s Local Flood Risk Management Plans

Flood Risk Management Plans anchor page overview in Citizen Space
Flood Risk Management Plans anchor page overview

SEPA is running a two-phase consultation project about their draft flood risk management plans for the whole of Scotland. Phase one of the consultation opened on the 21 December 2020 with draft information for the flood risk management plans available to read and review only.

The second phase, which opened a week ago, involves putting these draft plans out for consultation. Altogether, there are plans for 14 Scottish districts, and 14 associated consultations.

Link to Flood Risk Management Plans anchor page as seen from SEPA's Citizen Space hub
Link to Flood Risk Management Plans anchor page as seen from SEPA’s Citizen Space hub

SEPA have opened an activity in Citizen Space which provides an information overview and then links out to the 14 separate consultations in what would usually be a call to action (that is, a big ol’ link at the bottom that says something like ‘Share your views’) . This page acts as an anchor page for the whole project and gives respondents an easy place to find and return to.

SEPA have linked to this anchor page prominently from their Citizen Space hub – it’s first on the page underneath their welcome message. This means that respondents don’t have to sift through the ‘open consultations’ section or use the search function to find the consultation for their district – it’s signposted in a way that’s clear and leads to minimal confusion.

Environment Agency’s Thames Valley Flood Scheme

Environment Agency's Thames Valley Flood Scheme welcome page in Citizen Space
Environment Agency’s Thames Valley Flood Scheme ‘Welcome’ page

London isn’t the only city built along the Thames – the Thames Valley encompasses Reading, Oxford, Swindon and lots of others in between. EA has done a lot of flood protection work in the valley and now they’re working on a plan to protect the whole area from increased flooding due to climate change.

The environment agency have done something similar to SEPA: they’ve opened one ‘anchor’ activity (the ‘Welcome’ page) in Citizen Space which provides an information overview for the project. Linked from this page are seven other subpages, such as ‘What is the Thames Valley Flood Scheme’, ‘Timeline’ and ‘Frequently asked questions’.

A series of links to informative videos about the Thames Valley Flood Scheme, as well as a diagram of the area, as displayed on the Environment Agency's 'Welcome' page in Citizen Space
Example of some of the links and imagery on the Thames Valley Flood Scheme ‘Welcome’ page

At the bottom of each page, the call to action takes the respondent through to a broad-brush early engagement survey about the flood scheme. Rather than linking to separate surveys from each page, each link directs to the same place so there isn’t a confusing nightmare when it comes to analysing responses.

In both instances, there’s a logical user journey – there’s far too much information to fit on just one page, so the anchor page acts a bit like a dedicated website, all whilst guiding respondents towards sharing their views on the schemes. Dedicated branding for each project reassures people that they’re in the right place. All in all a nice bit of creative Citizen Space wizardry from each EPA, presenting huge amounts of complex information in a clear and well-designed way.

Citizen Space is a citizen engagement platform trusted by government around the world. Government organisations and public bodies use Citizen Space to connect with more citizens, increase engagement and improve processes.

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