Challenge: Making Every Community Engagement Project a Success
Optimizing public participation with every engagement project is a lofty goal. While Kimley-Horn continues to employ a variety of effective in-person engagement techniques (including small group meetings, workshops, and symposia), it also understands the modern need for a comprehensive approach to reach the broader community.
“Community empowerment and informed decision-making doesn’t happen by accident. The competition for time requires a diverse approach when considering how best to connect with stakeholders.”
Solution: Using MetroQuest on Almost Every Public Engagement Project!
For several years, Kimley-Horn consultants have relied on MetroQuest for online surveys and engagement. Their award-winning approach to public engagement has led to industry recognition, and more importantly, the swift endorsement of community and transportation plans.
Stephen Stansbery, Vice President at Kimley-Horn, explained how their consultants use MetroQuest on a variety of projects, including community plans, corridor studies, comprehensive plans, and system-level strategies.
“We use MetroQuest on almost all of our projects! MetroQuest offers a universal method for ease of access to the public and likewise access to the project. I think what’s most beneficial to us is its extreme accessibility and affordability.”
Stephen shared that because MetroQuest is so easy to use, consultants across Kimley-Horn offices are taking advantage of the firm’s annual subscription to deliver exceptional results for clients. “You know, when I think about what we get from MetroQuest, there’s incredible utility out of the information. Our team thrives on the accessibility that we get from the multitude of information coming out of the MetroQuest. It seamlessly drops into all our analytic tools.
“The platform is incredibly intuitive. The nice thing is that we get to rely on the expertise of folks at MetroQuest who have thousands of examples of where it has been used successfully. So, we know we’re getting the best of the best.”
Let’s explore two projects to learn how consultants at Kimley-Horn are using MetroQuest to impress their clients.
Kimley-Horn Gains the Confidence of the City Officials with 20,000 Data Points
Jonathan Whitehurst, AICP, Senior Planner and Project Manager at Kimley-Horn, recently used MetroQuest to gather actionable community input for Horizon 2040 – a project to update the 10-year Community Master Plan and Long Range Transportation Plan for the Greenville-Pickens area.
“Using MetroQuest really was a big deal and very important. We used MetroQuest to legitimize the process and earn a lot of respect in the client’s eyes,” said Jonathan Whitehurst. “In any of these types of projects, the client is answering to the elected officials, and the elected officials want to make sure that the community’s voice is being heard.”
“When we pointed to the results in MetroQuest and explained that we had 20,000 data points, it legitimized the process in the elected officials’ eyes and also legitimized the project as a whole.”
Jonathan designed the MetroQuest survey to be fully integrated into the overall public engagement strategy for the Horizon 2014 project. The actionable results gathered with MetroQuest helped Jonathan and his team to understand what the community values and to build a plan that responds to their unique priorities.
MetroQuest Drives Down the Cost-Per-Participant
An annual subscription to MetroQuest is the most cost-effective way to optimize engagement – it enables consulting firms like Kimley-Horn and government agencies to pay a fixed price for an unlimited number of MetroQuest surveys, without incremental fees.
Jonathan described the importance of driving down the cost-per-participant for Kimley-Horn clients, “Communities have limited resources and we have to be good stewards of their funds. So, we talk a lot about participant acquisition cost. With MetroQuest … participant acquisition cost goes way down. We can say, ‘for this amount of money, we got 20,000 individual data points.’ That goes a long way in suggesting that clients made the right decision.”
MetroQuest Powers Public Engagement at Various Project Stages
Kimley-Horn is also using MetroQuest to optimize public engagement at multiple stages for the Gwinnett County Comprehensive Transportation Plan, a Long Range Transportation Plan that looks out 25 years into the future, across all modes of transportation.
Cristina Pastore, Traffic Engineer and Transportation Planner at Kimley-Horn, described the completed phase of this project, “We used MetroQuest for our first round of outreach. We asked folks what their interests were when it came to different transportation priorities. We also used the mapping screen to understand the different types of transportation needs across the county. We used MetroQuest primarily online, but we also brought iPads to meetings and community events in case people wanted to take the survey right there on the spot.”
“The results were really far beyond what we expected, honestly. We had over 5,000 people take the survey. We had almost 15,000 data points alone just on the mapping feature. We are just amazed at how much feedback we got from the community on the plan.”
Cristina used the MetroQuest Data Center to monitor, explore, and export the extraordinary results for her project with Gwinnett County. Her team used a weighted score of rankings to evaluate citizen priorities. A GIS analysis of the mapping data points helped her team uncover where along the roadway corridors were the greatest opportunities for transportation improvements.
Armed with clear, actionable data, Cristina and her team developed recommendations for the Gwinnett County Comprehensive Transportation Plan that address the true priorities, desires, and needs of local citizens. It’s now time for further public input, explained Cristina, “We’re actually in the recommendations phase right now. We’re getting ready to kick off our next round of MetroQuest. So, we’ll be using it again this time to vet some of our big recommendations. Feedback that we receive on this second phase will help us to prioritize those big projects.”
Result: Kimley-Horn Delivers Exceptional Results and Value to Clients
Planning and engineering firms of all sizes rely on MetroQuest to deliver exceptional public engagement outcomes for their clients, gaining a distinct competitive advantage. Today, Stephen, Jonathan, Cristina, and other consultants at Kimley-Horn use MetroQuest to create visually compelling online experiences that maximize public participation, educate citizens about projects, and collect informed input for actionable results.
Stephen explained that because MetroQuest makes online engagement so affordable, Kimley-Horn is able to optimize citizen engagement on projects of all sizes, “Now, it’s something that’s almost universally accessible to those projects that we’re working on, small or large. We use MetroQuest frequently, almost on all of our projects these days. And as a result, we can pass those values on to our clients so that they can spend more of their resources on planning as opposed to simply outreach.”
“Thousands of data points have just become a customary result when working with MetroQuest on our projects. That increased volume of participation increases confidence in the results, and makes our planning process go that much more smoothly. It’s adding value to the communities that we’re working with.”
At MetroQuest, we love to celebrate great public engagement. To date, Kimley-Horn has engaged over 35,990 citizens, collected over 781,200 data points, and captured 29,900 comments … and they continue to impress their clients with exceptional public engagement results. Congratulations to Stephen, Jonathan, Cristina, and the entire team for your outstanding public engagement success!