TikTok Is More Popular Than Facebook, Should DOTs Follow?

It’s nearly 2020 and social media has been a thing for more than a decade. So it should surprise no one that social media trends come and go. There was MySpace, Vine, Meerkat, Google Plus , Friendster and … so many more platforms that have faded after promising starts that it is hard to remember them all.

Picking which new platforms are worth the time to learn and develop is a serious question for communications professionals, including those at state DOTs. There are only so many hours in a day, and smart managers have to understand their abilities and anticipate trends worth pursuing and those to ignore.

Continue reading “TikTok Is More Popular Than Facebook, Should DOTs Follow?”

Getting to ‘Know’: Tools Helping DOTs Reach People During Emergencies

Winter is coming and for state DOTs that means preparing to clear roads and assist motorists. Public information campaigns for years have focused on helping motorists “know before you go” by checking web sites and apps for the latest road condition and weather information. Additionally, officials have urged motorists to winterize their vehicles and to carry emergency supplies.

Traffic backed up on Interstate 5 in Vancouver, Wash., in Feb. 2019. Courtesy WSDOT licensed under CC BY 2.0.

But sometimes things happen – a sudden storm or natural disaster – that are so unforeseen that the transportation system is tied up and motorists are stranded. What communication strategies are in place for those situations?

Continue reading “Getting to ‘Know’: Tools Helping DOTs Reach People During Emergencies”

Happy Birthday iPhone: Tech May Change, Good Communications Remains the Same

iPhone5The 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.

Continue reading “Happy Birthday iPhone: Tech May Change, Good Communications Remains the Same”

Taking A Look Inside: Survey of State DOTs Offers Glimpse into Internal Comms

talking-clipart-people_standing_around_a_watercooler_talking_and_gossiping_0515-1103-1504-1157_SMUIt is no secret that state DOTs throughout the country have become adept communications organizations. The focus in many DOTs is turning away from the road to toward the people who use the transportation system – all its modes and priorities.

Whether you find yourself at a gathering of bridge engineers or environmental planners, the topic of communications has a good chance of being discussed. Continue reading “Taking A Look Inside: Survey of State DOTs Offers Glimpse into Internal Comms”

Talking Transportation, Innovation

The Transportation Research Board meeting held annually in Washington DC is among the largest gatherings of transportation geeks in the world. The January meeting typically tops 11,000 attendees with sessions and workshops beginning early in the morning and running well into the evening. The printed agenda is massive and looks and weighs like a major city phone book. The TRB annual meeting is indeed a big deal. Continue reading “Talking Transportation, Innovation”

Reversing the Trend: How Will U.S. Reduce, Eliminate Fatal Traffic Crashes

UtahDOT
State transportation departments use message signs to encourage people to drive safely. In 2015, Utah began a “100 deadliest Days” effort to highlight how the summer driving season is traditionally the most dangerous.  Photo courtesy Utah DOT.

It was not much of a surprise to the people who work to make the nation’s transportation system safer when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released preliminary numbers showing traffic deaths had increased nearly 8 percent in 2015 to 35,200.

 

According to the official NHTSA news release, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “We are analyzing the data to determine what factors contributed to the increase in fatalities and at the same time, we are aggressively testing new safety technologies, new ways to improve driver behavior, and new ways to analyze the data we have, as we work with the entire road safety community to take this challenge head-on.” Continue reading “Reversing the Trend: How Will U.S. Reduce, Eliminate Fatal Traffic Crashes”

Smart connections: Don’t take aggregate for ‘granite’

It is not always obvious how much transportation touches the lives of people. But the folks over at the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) can tell you for certain how important aggregate is to the construction of the paved surfaces on which we all walk and ride.

How Many Pokémon Does It Take    NSSGAFor those who don’t know, the term “aggregate” is used in geology to describe rock made of one or more minerals. According to NSSGA, each American uses about 10 tons of aggregates every year. Aggregates are used in road building, paint, cleaning products and probably even more things than the typical person even imagines – like Pokemon.

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