High Speed 2 (HS2) is a planned high-speed railway in the United Kingdom linking London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester. It will be one of the most significant capital projects in Europe with a projected cost of £56bn and a planned 16-year build. Consultation is ongoing around the route, compensation for local stakeholders, intersection with current franchisees, and numerous other details. Traverse (under previous name, Dialogue by Design) has been successfully working with the DfT and HS2 (Ltd) since 2011 on six high profile and contentious consultation processes. These have involved the secure collection and analysis of over 100,000 responses:
For each consultation, we advised the Department for Transport (DfT) and HS2 teams on questions and materials, ensuring that they were clear, unambiguous and unbiased. This process typically involved confidential material, not yet in the public domain, which was handled in line with Traverse’s security policy. We also advised them on the collection of demographic data as part of the diversity questionnaires.
|2011 Investing in Britain's Future||Initial proposals for the new railway||55,000|
|2013 Draft Environmental Statement||Response to HS2's environmental proposals||21,000|
|2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Property Compensation||Purchase of stakeholder-owned property on or near the route||52,363 (total)|
|2016 Design Refinement, Draft Environmental Impact Assessment, Draft Equality Impact Assessment||Response to Design, Environmental Impact Assessment and Equality Impact ASsessment||1,139 (total)|
|2017 Property, Route Refinement||Property and route propoosals||8,969 (total)|
At the beginning of each consultation we developed a ‘Data Journey’ in which we recorded all project guiding protocols and which we updated regularly to maintain a log of our processes. Our system has allowed us to deal consistently with a wide range of response formats from hand written letters, annotated maps and photos to enormous numbers of email or postcard campaigns. We analysed all responses received, whatever the format. At times we had three consultations running for HS2 simultaneously and we developed additional protocols and mechanisms to ensure that responses were directed to the correct consultation.
As HS2 required quick access to all analysis outputs to meet their own challenging internal deadlines, we provided them with a Client Review Website where they could see all processed responses and follow the coding process live. To maximise the usefulness of the review website, we worked with HS2 to identify which responses they would like us to prioritise. Throughout all projects, we expanded our data entry, analysis and reporting teams as required depending upon the number of responses received. We used a mixture of experienced, trained temporary staff, associates and staff from across the OPM Group, with consistent oversight from a member of the core project team. For one of the consultations, where the number of responses far exceeded the client’s estimate, we purchased additional hardware and introduced shift working to ensure that we still met the demanding reporting timetable.
During the 2014 Property Compensation Consultation all aspects of our work were peer reviewed by The Consultation Institute (TCI). We were very pleased with TCI’s conclusion that:
‘TCI is satisfied that the protocols and procedures for managing the project put in place by DbyD were robust and in line with good practice; we are satisfied that security of data was maintained, and that everything possible was done to ensure all submissions were entered and accounted for, and that the general procedures for dealing with the complexities of receiving and analysing large amount of submissions of text information in varied formats were of a high standard.’
Consultation Manager at HS2 Ltd said:
“Dialogue by Design have carried out response analysis on several high profile HS2 consultations. These have generated between 20,000 and 50,000 free text responses addressing a range of complex technical issues. Dialogue by Design demonstrated that they were sufficiently resourced and experienced to receive, process, categorise and intelligently summarise high volumes of data in a way that facilitates our decision making processes and provides a useful independent public record of the issues raised in responses to our consultations. It is important to HS2 Ltd that summary reports of our consultations are seen by our stakeholders to be neutral, objective, independent and fully representative of the issues and opinions raised by respondents. We are fully satisfied that Dialogue by Design have always carried out their work on HS2 projects with professional integrity and a sense of responsibility towards the people and organisations who have responded to our consultations.”