Pandemics, social unrest and natural disasters can disrupt state efforts to reach the public about projects, priorities, policy issues and services. MnDOT and other agencies have turned to Skype, Zoom, Webex, Facebook Live and other tools to present proposals and receive public input with some success. Participation in public meetings that in the past would have drawn fewer than 10 attendees may now draw 80 online.
“We want this to be transferable to future pandemics, severe weather, social unrest and other situations,” explained Jeanne Aamodt, public engagement program manager, MnDOT Public Engagement and Constituent Services Office. “But when we open up to audio and video online, people [sometimes] have to drop out. We want to treat people equally and need to know how to reach those who don’t have access to this kind of equipment or technology.”
In a new study, researchers will gather and report on best practices of local, state and federal agencies in communicating with the public during disruptive events, particularly when face-to-face communication will be limited. Research will focus on meeting MnDOT’s strategic goals in promoting equity through inclusive communication practices and resources.
- Survey state transportation agencies, Minnesota county and metropolitan authorities, and municipal agencies outside Minnesota.
- Consult with communications experts at federal agencies outside the transportation sector, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service, for best practices.
- Develop a presentation and final report.
- Estimated Start Date: 12/1/2020
- Estimated Completion Date: 6/30/2021
- Funding: Minnesota Department of Transportation
- Principal Investigator: Christine Kline
- Technical Liaison: Jeanne Aamodt
Details of the research study work plan and timeline are subject to change.