Citizen Space as public consultation software

What is a public consultation?

Public consultation is the process of asking for the public’s input on a policy or decision that affects them.

It’s the law to consult the public in many cases and is essential to the function of a healthy democracy.

That’s why good online consultation software is so important - it makes the process easy to access for citizens.

Why is public consultation important?

When people respond to a public consultation they're taking the time to provide their views.

Publishing clear outcomes and reports demonstrates to respondents that their views were considered.

Even where respondents disagree with the final outcome, it's best practice to demonstrate that the process was fair, and compliant with consultation guidelines.

How governments use public consultation software

The Government of Northern Ireland uses Citizen Space to run and manage online consultation across its departments.

Citizen Space online consultation software provides a single, simple place for Gov NI to run consultations, and feedback to participants about the consultation process and the Department's responses..

Citizens can easily find the outcome of a decision from a public consultation process, and Gov NI are confident that they’re closing the loop effectively.

Consultations give people in all walks of life a chance to get involved in the work of government. Consultation is an important part of the policy-making process . Citizen Space is the Northern Ireland Civil Service preferred tool for online public consultation .

Government of Northern Ireland

How to run a public consultation

Running a public consultation can seem complicated initially. But fundamentally public consultation is a straightforward process.

  1. Plan: be clear what information you need from the consultation, when you need it by, and what you’re going to do with it afterwards.
  2. Design: design your consultation, paying particular attention to subject matter, and your question design as this can have a big impact on the quality of data you receive back.
  3. Publish: when you publish a public consultation, make sure that things like contact details and close dates are clearly visible.
  4. Promote: for a public consultation to be successful, the consultation needs be promoted online, in news media and via community networks.
  5. Analyse: now that your results are in, it’s time to analyse the data you’ve received; good consultation tools help with this.
  6. Report: you will need to report your findings internally to decision-makers as well as externally to respondents.

Citizen Space helps run public consultations

Because it's designed for running online public consultations, Citizen Space simplifies the process.

Built-in publishing tools support planning and designing consultations . Consultations can be reviewed for quality before publishing. Consultations published using Citizen Space are easy to find and promote, and achieve good responses.

Citizen Space also includes tools for analysis and reporting on public consultations.

Finally, Citizen Space is easy to use, and allows organisations to meet high quality standards for public consultation.

What to include in a public consultation process

It’s important for statutory and planning consultations to conform to legal guidelines.

Ensure your public consultation process includes:

  • A workflow that meets statutory consultation periods
  • Transparency to the public and respondents
  • Privacy compliance including GDPR, Australian Privacy Act, New Zealand Privacy Act, UK Data Protection Act
  • A clear audit trail and data integrity that stands up to scrutiny
  • Supports Commonwealth and EU consultation standards, including Gunning Principles
  • Accessible public consultation platform, meeting accessibility requirements

Worldwide guidelines for public consultation

Citizen Space is used for public consultation by hundreds of organisations around the world.

The Federal Government in Australia uses Citizen Space because it meets Australian guidelines for public consultation.

Citizen Space is used by New Zealand central government because it's well suited to public consultation requirements in New Zealand.

In the UK, Citizen Space is widely used for consultations by UK central government as well as by devolved and local government:

Citizen Space also meets the needs for statutory planning consultation in Ireland and for bodies across the EU.

Meeting standards for public consultation

The UK's Government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) proposed 'a total ban on UK sales of ivory that could contribute either directly or indirectly to the continued poaching of elephants'.

Defra used Citizen Space to open up an online public consultation on this high-profile issue . There were more than 70,000 consultation responses to the consultation, generating valuable evidence for the policy decision.

Citizen Space is a versatile digital tool which is easy to use for both consulter and consultee. The system is already achieving high and sustained standards .

Consultation Manager, Defra

How to buy public consultation software

Buying public consultation software can be confusing. Here are nine tips on what to look for when buying public consultation software.

  1. Cloud-based: cut out IT hassles by using cloud software with no installations needed
  2. Simple licensing: transparent pricing with no hidden extras
  3. Security updates included: security updates are essential and need to be included at no extra cost
  4. Improvements included: the best consultation software provides regular improvements at no extra cost
  5. Reliability: look for a guaranteed high level of availability
  6. Accessibility: consultation software needs to be accessible to a wide range of users, using recognised standards such as WCAG 2.1
  7. Privacy: compliant with the data regime in your territory, for example GDPR, DPA, or the Privacy Act
  8. Integrity: buy only from suppliers meeting standards such as ISO 27001, the international standard for information security
  9. Service: look for both self-serve support via a knowledgebase, and account managed support via phone and email at no extra cost

Citizen Space helps us strip away the unnecessary complicatedness . It’s approachable – so people are more likely to actually consult.

Digital and Website Manager, Reading Borough Council

How local governments run public consultations with Citizen Space

Clackmannanshire Council recognised that they could do much better when it came to public engagement. They were using multiple costly systems that they struggled to coordinate and manage.

The council was looking for a tool that would make engaging with stakeholders a seamless - and interactive - process.

After extensive research, like many other local authorities in Scotland , Clackmannanshire switched to Citizen Space for online public consultation, improving their citizen engagement.

Citizen Space has been a breath of fresh air and nudged us to re-think the way we engage…I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to organisations wanting to improve the way they consult.

Performance & Information Officer, Clackmannanshire Council

Streamlining government public consultation process

Birmingham City Council wanted to implement one consistent public consultation process across the organisation.

Birmingham chose to use Citizen Space as online consultation software to serve as the backbone for this new, standardised approach.

Because Citizen Space is easy to use , Birmingham now run hundreds of consultations on the cloud-based public consultation tool – on everything from ‘20mph is plenty’ to a Public Art Strategy.

Citizen Space removes the confusion when buying public consultation software. It’s easy to buy and recommended by government customers around the world .

As well as reducing confusion and meeting public consultation guidelines, Citizen Space is continually improved, making the job of running public consultations easier and less time-consuming.

Citizen Space is cloud-based, has a simple licensing model including all security updates and an impressive 99.95% Service Level Agreement (SLA). Delib is ISO 27001 certified, compliant with privacy legislation, and offers a personal account management service as well a comprehensive self-serve knowledge base.

Public consultation stories

Learn how others use Citizen Space as public consultation software .

Explore public consultations

Find thousands of public consultations in the Citizen Space Aggregator.