The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) oversees maintenance of approximately 80,000 miles of roadway and 18,000 bridges and culverts statewide. It also manages programs supporting rail, aviation, ferry, public transit, and bicycle and pedestrian transportation.
Historically, NCDOT has been recognized as a thought leader and innovator among DOTs, particularly in communications and public engagement. Several teams focus on improving transparency and building relationships with North Carolina residents to ensure projects are planned, developed, and delivered efficiently.
Connecting Consultants to Create A Culture of Data Accuracy
The Public Involvement, Community Studies, and Visualization (PICSViz) Group, located in the Central Office’s Technical Services Division, plays a significant role in achieving these goals by handling each and every project that moves through the Environmental Division. Coordinating with dozens of consulting firms managing over 400 projects in the state’s Capital Program, PICSViz has achieved demonstrable increases in efficiency. By coaching consultants to integrate the PublicInput Platform into their engagement plans, PICSViz has laid the foundation for a source of truth that maintains transparency with stakeholders and allows the DOT to close gaps in accurate and timely information.
Integrating Outreach and Public Engagement Tools to Streamline Workflows and Save Time
Historically, DOTs of all sizes know the value in tailored communication strategies that are based on the needs or preferences of unique communities. These tactics include working with Community Based Organizations, leveraging social media, hosting public meetings, and creating online engagement hubs. While the public benefits greatly from this type of accessibility, the workload required to aggregate input and develop insights can be prohibitive, as well as prone to error or omission.
PublicInput automates much of the standardized process that Dianne Wilson of NCDOT created, including capturing contact information for future use. “The first question we ask on every survey is if you would like to be added to our email list,” says Wilson. Capturing this information allows for automated messaging to be delivered at key points during project development to ensure any potential objections or concerns are directly addressed.
NCDOT also recently launched the new CBO Database module within their PublicInput Platform, adding another layer of data centricity and record of interactions to build confidence in their decision making process.
Leveraging Organization-Wide Insights to Expand Reach
The PublicInput Platform acts as a Constituent Relationship Manager (CRM) for the entire organization, and connects participants to email and phone numbers which makes for easy follow up as well as for segmenting residents by unique identifiers such as geography, demographic or socioeconomic factors, or participation history. These segments are visualized in reports that include participant maps where geolocation of inputs affords context around the effectiveness of the investments being made in relationship building.
By diversifying use of PublicInput beyond the PICSViz group, NCDOT’s effective reach now extends beyond traditional “public involvement” activities and into stakeholder groups that include mission critical tasks such as the Ferry Information Notification System (FINS), where previously hard-to-reach audiences in the Outer Banks are now captured in the CRM as a result of their reliance on real time notifications about Ferry schedules.
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