Effective stakeholder communication and engagement was critical to the success of SCIRT's rebuild programme. In a post-disaster environment, the community was already under considerable stress. About 150 SCIRT construction projects at any one time within a relatively small city (population approx. 360,000) could be highly disruptive to residents, businesses and commuters.
SCIRT used many communications channels to maintain an open and honest dialogue with the community during its rebuild programme. These helped build tolerance and understanding around the disruptive nature of SCIRT's work. Regular community surveys showed SCIRT's most effective communication tool was the Work Notice.
Independent research underpinned SCIRT's communications programme, providing insights into the public's perception of its work and identifying areas for improvement. The research was used to measure and drive performance against ambitious targets for SCIRT's Customer Satisfaction Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). On average, SCIRT achieved satisfaction scores of 80 per cent, the highest of any rebuild organisation.
In November 2011, SCIRT established a research programme that would be used for the next five years to measure and guide its performance in the eyes of the community.
A suite of 31 management plans were developed under the Interim Alliance Agreement prior to the start of SCIRT, to intentionally guide the organisation. These plans were reviewed annually and updated as required.
This Stakeholder Management Plan was one of these management plans, and it outlined the scope, approach and key deliverables for communications and stakeholder engagement for SCIRT's horizontal rebuild programme.
It set out the Operational Framework that ensured aligned, coordinated and consistent levels of communications and engagement across all channels.
School visits were an important communications tool SCIRT used to promote to children how to keep safe around its work sites and to inform local people about its work.
During its six-year work programme SCIRT's communications team conducted 170 school visits in Christchurch.
Talking to pupils, students and teachers about how to keep safe when there were SCIRT work sites in their neighbourhood was a key objective of the visits, and part of SCIRT's commitment to proactive, open, clear and timely communications with the Christchurch community.
One of SCIRT's objectives was to "be proactive and communicate face-to-face where possible". It also aimed to be "approachable". These objectives were regularly measured in community surveys.
Door-knocking was a successful way to meet these objectives and encourage positive contact between SCIRT and the community. It was particularly important in a post-disaster environment where people were coping with many stressors and their ability to process information was impaired. It was also important in communities where written communication was less effective.
Work site information days were a positive way to build relationships with the local community. The public was invited to visit the site on a set day and meet the people working there.
Work in residential, commercial and businesses areas invariably happened "behind the fences" for safety reasons. Site visit information days were proven to be an effective way for the local community to get up close to see the work and speak to the people undertaking the repairs.
Supporting businesses affected by SCIRT rebuild works was critical to help businesses continue to operate, and to maintain community confidence.
In response to driver frustration and to encourage patience and safe driving habits during traffic detours and delays, stationary drivers were given "chocolate fish" (iconic New Zealand sweets) wrapped in a message about the project.
With much of the damaged horizontal infrastructure under the road corridor, SCIRT work often had a high impact on road users. While a lot of planning went into minimising traffic delays and detours, in some locations these were inevitable. They could last for many months and create pressure and delays along detour routes.