Citizens are asked to give their opinion on development and projects in the city.

Key facts

  • Easy to start, even without any surveying experience
  • Create questions in such a way that you get feedback the way you want it
  • Interaction with respondents in a humane and accessible way


In the ever growing interactive world, it is the rule rather than an exception that you can start up a conversation with a brand or organization and feel somewhat engaged.

For many companies in a more regulatory and bureaucratic environment, this might still feel like a bit of a challenge.  And that’s where Penrith City Council’s Development Approvals Team makes an inspiring example.

Community engagement basics

Maya Goldsmith, Project Officer at Penrith City shares that she first started using Survey Anyplace in a community engagement role. Engagement was one of the responsibilities of the team that also addresses disparity between suburbs with people living in disadvantage as opposed to suburbs that are well funded and have a lot of infrastructure.

In these different communities, Penrith would organize events such as “Family Fun” days. “During that time, we would have people walking around the event with a survey running on an iPad. They’d ask visitors about their feelings towards the community, the event and some general demographic information.” mentions Maya. This was the easiest to get all the information they needed, with the guidance of team members that operated the iPads.

Involving important stakeholders

Since then, Maya has started working on new things. A yearly event that her department holds is a Developers Forum, where local industry professionals are gathered. A new chance to increase engagement arose!

During these events a number of topics and workshops on building and development are led by the city council. Following the event, a survey is sent out via mail, to discover how the attendees felt the forum went and how the council’s service can be improved.

“The mail for our latest Developer’s Forum had a 21% response rate.” Maya says. “The way that this forum is evolving and the ease of working with Survey Anyplace makes us think of new and more ways to incorporate it.”

One of those ideas is to put together a working party of local developers who meet on a regular basis to provide feedback on process improvements. The software in this case will be used by the members of that panel, to gather feedback from their own employees and customers to get even more valuable insights.

One-on-one customer feedback: from zero to over 10% in one year

The biggest step Penrith took was engaging with their customers on a very personal, one-on-one basis. Before working with the tool, if there was any feedback, customers would call and the department would deal with each situation accordingly. Much less detailed statistics were kept.

Now, the department regularly sends out a survey via e-mail to each customer that got an approval on their building application. The tool works as a framework that Penrith can use to have a more structured approach in gathering feedback and in analyzing data afterwards. Positive data! Which was one of the great lessons from this process:

“We get a lot of encouragement from our Senior Management to improve where we can. Which in itself is great, but the focus might have been on the negative, whereas the information we’re getting from our customers is actually very positive. That was a fantastic thing, to be able to gather that from the customers. It was a great moral boost for the entire staff.”

New opportunities and growth in the future

In just a couple of years, Maya and her department managed to boost the customer experience to be less regulatory, using plain English more and started engaging them in a different way.

They are continuously working on more ways to incorporate the tool and engagement into their daily business. It makes the city more human and open to the feedback that people are often willing to give. Maya concludes that: “There’s an infinite number of opportunities for us to expand, now that we’ve started using the software and we’re comfortable with it.”

“We’ve evolved from not surveying our customers in this program to now maintaining the level of surveying at every single one of our customers, that is amazing. The fact that this is now becoming the standard is a big step for our department.

Maya GoldsmithProject Officer at Penrith City Council

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