State departments of transportation have focused on accountability and transparency — two common catch phrases in our business — for as long as there have been departments. At least a dozen years ago or more state transportation agencies began focusing on how to communicate in a way that helps the public better understand where their money was being spent.
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.