What’s in store for 2020?
The way government organizations are approaching public involvement is changing rapidly. The FHWA’s Every Day Counts initiative has highlighted the growing role of technology and the proliferation of new engagement formats for the transportation space. Meanwhile, Smart Cities are no longer thinking in terms of ‘online’ or ‘in-person’ engagement, but rather unified public engagement.
How will this continue to evolve in 2020? Here’s a few trends we believe will play out:
1. A renewed focus on accessibility and multi-lingual engagement
As organizations lower barriers to participation, many new voices are making their way into the conversation. With that, previously invisible barriers to participation like web accessibility and translation quality are beginning to rise to the surface.
Given federal law, and planners being decent human beings, we believe even greater attention will be paid to accessibility and multi-lingual engagement.
2. Inter-Agency Collaboration and Data Standards
Given the inter-connected long range planning and project development life cycle, it makes little sense to silo public participation data in spreadsheets and lists at individual agencies. We’ve seen significant interest in standardizing public participation data and contacts to facilitate sharing and collaboration between DOT’s, MPO’s, and local governments.
That’s why we’ve already begun building out inter-agency data management tools with select MPO and DOT partners and look forward to seeing this trend bear fruit in the form of shorter planning and project development timelines.
3. Old-school is new again
As technologists, we naturally shy away from things like paper surveys, comment cards, snail mail, and the like. They’re unwieldy, time consuming, and not nearly as exciting as sleek iPads. Yet with time and evidence that these are best practice in specific cases, we’re learning to love and embrace these formats.
We believe the time is ripe for a renaissance of ‘old-school’ approaches with the support of new technologies that can reduce the time required to manage and bring them into a unified database.
We’re barely able to contain our excitement about the innovations coming down the pike on this front – stay tuned!
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