[WEBINAR] Best Practices for Online Public Engagement for Transportation Agencies

highway with cars on it

This 42-minute video presents a series of case studies, best practices and tips to guide MPO’s and DOT’s towards the successful application of online public engagement for a variety of projects. Award-winning LRTP, STIP, TIP, NEPA, EIS, corridor, highway, transit, TOD and participatory budgeting projects that successfully leveraged innovative digital engagement are presented. From crowdsourcing platforms to interactive surveys to social media, the latest fleet of online engagement tools are making it so easy and fun to participate that they are drawing in thousands of participants and collecting constructive public input to inform and support MPO and DOT projects across the country. This session outlines best practices gathered based on hundreds of project case studies.

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Below are some of the questions that were asked during the Q&A session at the end of the presentation.

Q: What are the best methods you have heard of for getting the survey in front of people so that they will share it?
A: From my perspective there are two aspects of this question. First, how do you make people aware of the survey and second, what can we do to encourage them to then share it with their contacts? Both of these questions are addressed in our Public Involvement User Guide. Inside you will find a section on effective methods for promoting participation and many insights into how to develop surveys that people want to share. This is the key! That, and making it easy to share with one click which is incorporated into all MetroQuest sites.

Q: What is the typical participation rate through kiosks vs. other screen types?
A: The participation rate for kiosks depends in small part on the branding and call to action stickers on the front (which we can advise you on) and to a much greater extent on where they are placed. We have found that places are where people are not in a great hurry are best: libraries, recreation centers, etc. We’ve seen participation rates as high as 200-500 participants per day in the best cases though 50-100 per day is more common. Here are the platforms we support and a rough estimate about what percent of participation you can expect from each: computer 50%, smartphones 30%, kiosks 15%, face to face 5%. Our Public Involvement User Guide provides advice on developing a multi-pronged engagement strategy that fits your project goals.

Q: Has this been used in Washington State?
A: Yes, MetroQuest is the most widely used online engagement platform in North America so there are case studies in most regions. In Washington State most recently we worked on the Street Funding initiative for Vancouver, WA. It’s an interesting site that combines the scenario, priority ranking and funding balance screens in an interesting way. Feel free to check it out here.

Q: Is there a particular age demographic that this appeals to?
A: MetroQuest is designed to appeal to the broadest demographic possible. Several of our clients have done detailed analysis on the participation by age group and compared it with the mix in the general population and each time the share of participation has been within 10% of the region’s population with one exception: youth. It used to be that seniors were the most difficult to engage online, but that has changed dramatically in the last 3 years. Here is a blog post about engaging seniors if you are curious. People under 25 that can be difficult to reach. They have no problem with the technology, but their minds are simply not on planning. If engaging youth in large numbers is critical to your project it may be necessary to go to events where young people will be and encourage them to engage using tablets or their own smartphones. We can help you set up tablets with MetroQuest for use in this capacity. It’s pretty easy but does require someone to take the time to find events and set up a table.

Q: What are the cost for using MetroQuest? What is the cost for each additional language?
A: MetroQuest is provided either as a subscription or for use on a project as a package. To support a project here’s the process and what’s included:

  1. The MetroQuest team collaborates with you (via a web meeting) to determine which of the MetroQuest Screen Types will be the most effective to use on the project.
  2. MetroQuest then provides a template for you to place content (text, images, etc) to populate the screens.
  3. MetroQuest does all the technical heavy lifting and sets up and refines the MetroQuest experience with your feedback.
  4. Once the software meets your approval, MetroQuest performs a suite of technical and user experience testing to ensure the software runs properly on all browsers and smartphones, and is accurately collecting and organizing participant data.
  5. Once MetroQuest is launched it is available for public use for up to 3 months. We’ll offer tips on how your team can promote participation and train you in the use of our MetroQuest Insights dashboard where you can monitor activity and analyze the data.

The fee for this standard package of software use and related services is $12,000. If you need to support additional languages they can be added for $4,000 per additional language. If you plan to use MetroQuest on multiple projects we would be pleased to discuss subscription pricing options to reduce your costs. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Q: Will a recording of this presentation be available to rewatch?
A: Yes, the recording is provided above and you may feel free to rewatch it or share it with others. Thanks in advance for helping to spread the word about online engagement. It’s very gratifying to help so many agencies improve their outreach.

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