It’s Personal: The Smartphone’s Influence on Transportation Communications


iPhone5More evidence was released this week suggesting that the days of sitting-at-a-desk, full-monitor web site experiences are waning.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project published its latest research that shows roughly 63% of American cell phone users access the internet with their cellphones. That translates to more than half of all American adults. And of those who access the internet via cell phones, more than a third say it is the primary way in which those cellphone owners access the internet.

Perhaps the next round of questions should ask why isn’t everyone accessing the internet through their cellphones? Continue reading

Show your work: Transportation behind the scenes

I have suggested many times that giving the public a peak at what things look like behind the detours and road closures can only help tell the transportation story. The Washington State Department of Transportation team regularly does this, and the public seems to enjoy it.

Recently, the WSDOT team took advantage of an annual bridge closure to get some additional road work completed.

The project itself, while awesome to watch, is not necessarily the most amazing work the agency has underway right now (for instance, check out the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project). But the peek at what a weekend closure can accomplish certainly impressed WSDOT’s customers. Take a look at the comments left below the video.


YouTube is often the place where the worst of people comes out in the comments. But in this case, the public truly appreciated the effort WSDOT made to look behind the scenes.  

Using video well: Michigan DOT uses testimonials when talking transportation

The Michigan Department of Transportation, like a number of state DOTs around the country, have developed very strong video-making capabilities. In fact, the AASHTO annual survey of state DOTs social media usage showed that more than 78 percent were using some kind of online video.

But in this video, MDOT offers a clinic on how to build a narrative using the testimonials of the community leaders involved in a particularly important project in the City of Grand Rapids. There are certainly other effective ways of using video. But with the decline of modern journalism, transportation agencies need to develop two important strategies.

Transportation agencies need to find a voice that can speak directly to the people who use and pay for the transportation systems we build, operate and maintain. We cannot hope that the limited budgets and staffs of our fourth estate will have room for, nor interest in, our stories.

And, transportation agencies need to develop a way to emphasize the third-party endorsements – those ringing “attaboys” that help those system users know that what the transportation agencies are doing is monitored, engaged, respected and ultimately endorsed by a community and its leaders. Using testimonials by local leaders was an effective way for MDOT to show it not only constructed an innovative project, it did so at the request of, and with the blessing and support of, the people who live there.


TransComm preview: Five transportation stories that will shape the year ahead

With AASHTO Subcommittee on Transportation Communications annual meeting next week in Raleigh, NC, it is worth noting a few of the stories that are likely to be part of the conversations. Please remember, this blog does not offer political commentary. This list simply acknowledges some important stories that transportation communications professionals have a high chance of managing in the coming year.

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