During the early autumn, here at Institute of Design Innovation, we made a trip to Aviemore to meet the people who work in the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA). CNPA is based in between the charming backdrop of Highlands on the northern edge of the Cairngorms National Park. The CNPA provides a number of services to support businesses, land owners and local communities within and around the National Park.

CNPA’s main activity is to support the communities within the National Park. The National Park is the home to around 18,000 people, different audiences living in a number of communities, each with the mountains, rivers and forests at their heart. The authorities who work in CNPA pointed out that they are currently dealing with 10 to 12 major issues in the park such as Housing and Deer management.

One of their main concern in engaging with the communities was that their activities are not reaching the right people and they would like to reach out to the unusual suspects within the Cairngorms communities. They would also like to get the stories across to the young people and adults. CNPA is aware of their challenges they face such as broadband and mobile coverage in engaging these unusual suspects.

CNPA is ideally looking at finding a balance between traditional and social media to reach most people within the community for active engagement. It will be challenging as it might require a new system from the ground up for CNPA, however this fits in well with Leapfrog and we will be able to work with them to address the above issues from our design expertise. They strongly believe that interactive and user friendly tools will trigger better engagement. From their past experience they have identified that graphic tools such as maps and tools with visual representation has worked well.

One of the interesting points they made which is quite well known in the Highlands and Islands communities is that some people in the community wear multiple hats which means they take up various responsibility in the community. Such people can be an asset to the community engagement, this is something we will targeting in our project with CNPA.

We anticipate by early 2016 we will be starting our short project with the CNPA, we will be actively co-​designing tools with the people of Cairngorms National Park. Watch this space for updates.