Building the Talk London community in 2020 & beyond

Today sees the launch of the new and improved Talk London, City Hall’s online community and citizen engagement platform.

The site is currently in BETA as we gather more feedback and input from our users and Londoners to help inform the next rounds of development for Talk 3.0. Take a look and join the discussion here.

Talk London was set up to involve Londoners in sustained conversations about how to improve the capital, last year almost 11,000 new members joined, more than double the previous 12 months (4,500).

During such a challenging year, hearing directly from Londoners about COVID-19 was hugely important: how they were doing, how they were coping, and what their priorities are is helping plan for London’s recovery from the pandemic.

Talk London is at its heart of how we discuss building London back better: with the new Recovery hub providing citizens with the information they need about this work and how and when they can join the recovery effort.

The launch of the Re-imagine London campaign on 16 March will enable Londoners to submit their ideas on how to improve the places where they live or work on Talk London. With their input we can create thriving neighbourhoods within easy reach of all Londoners.

These ideas will provide a way for communities, councils and partner organisations to see what people want to happen in their local areas– and to incorporate those into their plans for recovery. The best ideas will have a shot at getting funding to bring them to life.

Talk London is nearly nine years old and our platform got its last revamp in 2017. The website technology needed a full upgrade, so we took the opportunity to make Talk London 3.0 easier for all Londoners to get involved in policy and programme design.

From bringing to life the problems and issues of everyday Londoners and crowd-sourcing ideas, to raising awareness of initiatives and gaining buy in for new projects, the new Talk London site will be much better placed to connect Londoners to each other and City Hall so they can play a full role in designing and delivering improvements to their neighbourhoods and London as a whole.

We involved our growing Talk membership, up from 38,000 in 2017 to 60,000 in 2021 in our research and they told us what they liked or didn’t like about the old platform, what they felt was missing, how they wanted to engage with us and what they expected from the new platform.

Growing a diverse membership: one of our main objectives is to make the Talk London membership as reflective of the London population as possible, and the new site represents a step change in our ability to connect with a broad audience. Our user research focussed on the needs and wants of younger and BAME audiences so that we could be confident that we’re building a platform that meets their aspirations.

Increasing participation: a new ideas functionality will harness Londoners creativity and imagination to explore solutions to challenges facing the city, and to design and test programmes so that they are responsive to public needs.

We’ve also introduced a light registration so that Londoners can sign up to “upvote” or “like” other members comments and receive emails on new Talk London activity. Members won’t have to sign up with full profiles until they want to take part in a survey, discussion or idea generation.

A focus on transparency: we’ve made City Hall’s policy design process easier to understand by introducing a timeline that shows how and when Londoners can collaborate with us. We’ve also added space to present contextual information to make it easier for people to access insights and data, as well as impact pieces to show how their participation has shaped our work.

We owe a very big thank you to all the colleagues who helped us get the platform ready: our developers, our testers, TG, the digital team, all the policy teams who provided content for their mission hubs and everyone who joined one of our show & tells last year.

This is just the start as Talk London 3.0 development continues throughout this year and we will be introducing more new and exciting features, including many ways to personalise the platform and the content, email communications — automated marketing, search/filtering, and improved analytics and reporting functionality.

@MayorofLondon CDO & Smart London Board putting data & technology at the heart of making London an even better place to live, work and visit