Challenge: Going Beyond Public Meetings for Broader Outreach!
Michael Baker has always used a comprehensive set of face-to-face techniques to facilitate meaningful dialogue with the communities their clients serve. However, with declining participation at agency public meetings, the firm sought a state-of-the-art online solution to engage, educate, and collaborate with the broader communities.
“A lot of our meetings were having low attendance, and so, we were looking for something that was creative, that was online, and that we could use as an alternative to traditional meetings,” explained Kenneth Mobley, Associate Vice President and Planning Manager at Michael Baker International.
“We selected MetroQuest because we needed a platform to get to a large number of people in a cost-effective way. MetroQuest let us get the outreach we needed for our projects.”
Solution: Using MetroQuest to Engage Thousands in a cost-Effective Way!
Lorna Parkins, Vice President of Transportation Planning, confirmed why Michael Baker chose MetroQuest, “We were looking for a tool for outreach that would be highly engaging for a broad audience of people looking to give input online. The MetroQuest platform is organized in a way that people can quickly absorb key information and then do something interactive. That really keeps them engaged.”
Today, the Planning Services team uses MetroQuest surveys to engage thousands of people online on a variety of projects, from community plans to state-wide long range transportation plans. Kenneth explained, “Most of our work has been on transportation planning, like multi-modal corridor studies, regional studies, and bicycle and pedestrian trail studies. Most recently, we’ve consulted on an incentive program for alternatives to driving in a single occupancy vehicle. We use the MetroQuest platform in virtually any type of transportation planning.”
“We find MetroQuest very easy to work with. It’s got a simple Screen selection process so that you can set-up the survey. It’s easy to show clients the reports. Everything is incredibly easy.”
Lorna described how the firm is leveraging their annual subscription to MetroQuest to improve public involvement, “It’s hard for people to generate enough interest in long range planning to show up in person at public meetings. MetroQuest definitely helps us reach different audiences, especially when it comes to long range planning. For one project, we had hundreds of participants and the client was just thrilled because they’d never had that level of engagement on a long range plan. It’s really effective in that respect.”
“MetroQuest allows us to very efficiently and cost-effectively get a lot of input – big numbers! That’s good for us and it’s good for our clients.”
Michael Baker Impresses Clients with MetroQuest!
Today, planning firms find that many of their clients ask for MetroQuest by name for their public outreach projects. “For some clients, MetroQuest is new and different, while other clients demand it regularly now because they’ve had good experiences with it,” said Lorna. “Our depth of understanding of the tool, the numbers of times we’ve used it, and our ability to adapt it to different projects is a strength we have that we bring to our clients, and of course, that becomes a good selling point for us.”
By delivering outstanding public engagement results, MetroQuest helps planning firms like Michael Baker gain a competitive advantage. Kenneth explained,
“We really needed to have something to distinguish ourselves from engagement firms that are small and very specialized. MetroQuest helped us define a lot of what we do in the engagement practice. In today’s digital world, MetroQuest delivers a more interactive way to take surveys anywhere, anytime. The mobile aspect of it has really made us more nimble in the way that we do engagement.”
Results: Over 230,000 Data Points Collected to Inform Better Planning!
While Michael Baker continues to launch new MetroQuest surveys for clients, the firm has already achieved exceptional results. On behalf of clients, the experts at Michael Baker have engaged over 12,820 people, collected more than 231,270 data points, and captured 14,760 comments to support a variety of planning projects. Kenneth descripted the firm’s achievements,
“We’ve had great success with MetroQuest. I mean we’ve done campaigns where we’ve gotten literally thousands of responses. MetroQuest has really helped us provide an alternative way to get input that we might not have had otherwise.”
The team at Michael Baker uses the live, interactive dashboards in MetroQuest Studio to analyze responses, garner insights, and share their outstanding results with clients. “One of the things we’ve seen is that with the high level of responses, the data reports have been so robust,” Kenneth continued, “For one of the projects we did in Virginia, we were be able to map out the survey results and really package the data in a way that the client could take action on the information.”
“For my projects,” said Lorna, “it has been really useful to generate results that are specific, such as helping us validate how we prioritize transportation projects for a regional plan. In many cases, it validates what we’ve heard from other channels, but then sometimes it really does offer new insights as well.”
“We’re able to go to decision makers and show them ‘we got this much input, and these were the findings.’ This gives them more confidence to tell us that they’re ready to move forward. They feel that what they’ve heard from the public is reliable.”
Great public engagement is worth celebrating, particularly as it supports the approval and implementation of innovative plans to make places better. We would like to congratulate Kenneth, Lorna, and the whole team at Michael Baker for your exceptional public engagement outcomes!