Process and Planning
The process and planning stage was a collaborative approach between the Waterways Ireland staff and research project team.
It was decided by Waterways Ireland that the consultation would concentrate on:
Plan: Traditional and Technological Mix
The consultation organisers wanted to include e-consultation elements in an overall consultation process that ran along traditional lines. The traditional element allowed respondents to send in written submissions or request a face-to-face meeting with the consulters. The organisers were experienced in running traditional consultations; however, it was the electronic communications component, or web site approach, that was new to them.
To participate in the consultation, it was envisaged that potential respondents could browse the online consultation documents, then join a discussion forum where they could leave comments on the issues that interested them.
There then followed a short process of negotiation in relation to the design of the web site. The research team took the Waterways Ireland consultation document, converted it to HTML and put it on-line.
Then, the research team developers set up a discussion forum before showing the consultation organisers how to enter the first questions to start off a discussion.
Every part of the site was reviewed by Waterways Ireland and amended in accordance with their suggestions. The result, for better or worse, was a site that mirrored their off-line consultation.