One of the most exciting opportunities offered to government agencies by social media was the potential to increase how well they communicated with the general public. After more than 10 years of Facebook and Twitter, and dozens of other social media channels, the question is worth asking: Are we any better at engaging with the public than we were at the turn of the century?
State departments of transportation, and other state and local transportation agencies have long used social media channels to communicate about road conditions, transit disruptions, weather impacts, project meetings and safety messaging. In fact, we celebrate many of their efforts here at Talking Transportation, highlighting the bold, the funny, the thoughtful and the impacting.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll suggest that government agencies are doing a good job of sharing information about the basic elements of operating a transportation system.
By now, you might have noticed that the The Talking Transportation blog has been silent for a couple of years. I sincerely apologize for being away.
Honestly a few things conspired to sap my enthusiasm for this project. First, my son was nearing the end of his high school years. He was active in school sports, choir and other extracurricular activities. I didn’t want to miss a thing. Second, a close family member was diagnosed with cancer and quite a bit of mental and spiritual energy went into support during the past few years. And, finally, I decided to take my passion for endurance sports to a new level, completing three Ironman races since 2017.
Needless to say, my schedule has been busy.
But, while the blog has been dormant, the transportation industry has continued to pursue transparency and accountability through good communications with the traveling public. There truly is a renaissance underway as transportation leaders increasingly embrace new tools and tactics that refocus outreach on the users of the transportation system.
My goal in the coming weeks and months is to highlight those innovations, and the creative strategies and tactics being put into practice.
I hope to show good work, discuss the challenges associated with that work, and, ultimately, give you a reason to come back to the Talking Transportation blog.
The novel approach to build an online campaign focused on a specific audience of younger adults who, according to research, are more likely to get behind the wheel after drinking or drugging.
“Far too many people still mix alcohol, drugs and driving. Young people, in particular, often don’t understand that impaired driving is a crime, and a serious one — and they also are less likely to buckle up,” said Acting Transportation Secretary Erica Borggren. “These same young people ages 21-34 no longer receive news through traditional means. We’re hopeful this new series will catch their attention and give them a reason to log on or check their mobile devices. When they do, they’ll be entertained — and most importantly, they’ll receive a life-saving message.”
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.