The iPhone turned 10 last month. As Steve Jobs began to introduce the iPhone at the MacWorld conference in 2007, he said, “We’re going to make history together today.”
That certainly was true. The iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone, but it revolutionized how people communicated and how they sought out information – two things that have largely reshaped the ways in which communications teams within transportation departments do their work.
In 2007, a DOT team with which I worked teamed up with a local utility company to insert construction announcements into monthly water bills that went to residents near a major project. It was expensive and time-consuming. And, we had no way of knowing whether the people who opened the utility bill even read the notice.
I stumbled upon Bernie Wagenblast’s Shout-O-Matic audio blog this week and immediately was excited about a tool that is being used by the Idaho Transportation Department.
The Public Involvement Planner (POP) is a tool developed by the Langdon Group to help non-communications and public involvement staff think about what goes into a public outreach plan.
Idaho’s POP web site describes it this way, “POP is a tool for analyzing and quantifying public outreach needs, which will ultimately lead to efficient and appropriate outreach management.”
I first heard of the POP tool during the annual TRB meeting earlier this month in Washington DC from Langdon’s Bryant Kuechle. What is exciting about the tool, at least to me, is that it is not limited to just planning projects. Indeed, the Idaho POP has worksheets for corridor planning and environmental planning efforts. But it also includes worksheets for construction projects, non-construction projects and emergencies.
Ultimately, every state and local transportation agency should have a process to help put together communication plans. If yours doesn’t, consider creating one.