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Commonplace

Built Environment and Infrastructure
Enabling‌ ‌better‌ ‌informed‌ ‌and‌ ‌more‌ ‌inclusive‌ ‌planning‌ ‌decisions‌

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Commonplace

Built Environment and Infrastructure
Enabling‌ ‌better‌ ‌informed‌ ‌and‌ ‌more‌ ‌inclusive‌ ‌planning‌ ‌decisions‌

Summary

  • Founded in 2013
  • Total funding £3.3 million; last round (Series A) £3 million
  • Investors include Beringea and Social Tech Trust
  • Based in London
  • 29 FTEs
  • Key clients/partners: Camden Council, Lewisham Council, and Surrey County Council, Leeds City Council, Blackpool Council, Highways England, HS2, Waltham Forest
  • Key executives: Mike Saunders, Co-Founder & CEO: Seasoned digital innovation and communications executive, former advisor to UK Parliament on public engagement; David Janner-Klausner, Co-Founder & Customer Success Director: non-profit executive, urban planning expert.

Profile

Commonplace, a digital engagement platform, focuses on planning and the built environment. It is unusual in enabling collaboration between public sector organisations (eg. local councils, national infrastructure management groups) and private construction firms on the creation of planning consultations. This cooperative approach may result in a more comprehensive understanding of all stakeholders’ points of view, and better outcomes for citizens. Commonplace’s platform offers several participation resources. Its “Community Engagement” tool serves geo-targeted social media ads that ask citizens for their opinions on how to improve their local area. Responses are collated into a dashboard for municipal staff to analyse. “Planning Consultations” asks citizens to respond to a specific plan in the works. A Community Heatmap enables hyperlocal responses, with respondents commenting on ‘dropped pin’ locations. The platform’s data analytics can organise feedback by topic and sentiment. The platform is data secure, accessible, custom branded, and supported by a team of engagement experts. Local authorities and private sector partners typically integrate the information they collect from the platform into their statement of community involvement (SCI), which forms a crucial part of UK planning applications.  Under the National Infrastructure Strategy, the UK government has set itself the aim of simplifying planning procedures to allow more schools and hospitals to be built, without sacrificing local control over new projects. Services like Commonplace could play a key part in this, allowing local consultations to take place more quickly and in more detail. It is up to local authorities and planners to ensure accessibility, complementing digital offerings with offline consultation where needed. 

Plans

  • Hoping to create the largest digital footprint of citizens involved in planning decision-making by helping over 4m citizens engage in one of their projects.
  • Aiming to establish Commonplace as the “first choice option” for stakeholders engaging communities in the built environment.

Who Should Speak To This Company


Local authorities involved in city planning, and construction companies

Company In Action

Commonplace helped Waltham Forest, a borough in London, improve and promote cycle routes and public spaces through its “Mini Holland” project. Approximately 5% of the local population provided more than 15,000 comments on a Commonplace portal over 18 months. This inquiry led planners to realise that there was a disconnect between the needs of local businesses and visitors to the area. The Commonplace platform allowed all parties to debate relevant issues and vote on solutions. The results of the project are impressive: walking and cycling increased by an average of 41 minutes per resident, and a Kings College report determined that the changes increased the life expectancy of children living in the borough by six weeks.

StateUp View

In a competitive citizen engagement market, Commonplace has carved out a niche by focusing on planning and the built environment. The move is bold: while the sector is known as conservative and slow to change, there is ample ground for innovation. The approach appears to be paying off. Commonplace reportedly has worked with 200 customers to date, and processed more than 1.4 million responses. Investors are excited too; Commonplace closed a £3 million Series A mid-pandemic, led by Beringea—known for offering patient capital. Alongside its focus on local authorities and regional governments in the UK, Commonplace is working hard to build strong relations with industry. The approach is prudent on two fronts.  First, it offers an alternative revenue stream to the peaks and troughs of government contracting. Second, as urban regeneration continues, and receives increased investment, it places Commonplace well to be the hub for an industry-wide ecosystem, moving beyond the silos that have often characterised ways of working in the built environment sector. As infrastructure and the broader built environment increasingly operate as a ‘system of systems’, and collaborative project delivery models become normalised, this cooperation will be essential.
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