UDOT and state agencies across the U.S. are using Social Media in innovative ways.
With the rise in use of social media, it makes sense that government agencies are taking advantage of relatively new online communication tools like Facebook and Twitter. A recent post on this blog describes how UDOT uses social media, and the agency is not alone among transportation organizations across the nation. State government social media users are finding a variety of ways to use Social Media and free online and smart phone apps to provide quick, effective ways to communicate with citizens.
Advantages to government agencies abound when it comes to Social Media use. The primary advantage is that Social Media lets transportation agencies hear the concerns of citizens and engage in a real time two-way conversation. Applications like Facebook and Twitter let real two-way communication with people in the places where people are already congregating and sharing ideas.
Social media can also help DOTs:
- Expand communication reach more people and other audiences.
- Address misconceptions
- Be cost effective with communication efforts
- Increase the speed of public input
- Target specific audiences or neighborhoods about a project or issue
Here are some innovative ways UDOT and agencies from other states are using social media to interact with the public:
UDOT used a free online application to hold an online public meeting simultaneously with an in-person meeting. The application has a chat feature and also integrates easily with cameras and microphones. Meeting organizers invited attendees to sign up for the online meeting ahead of time. While the in-person meeting was taking place, project representatives answered questions posed by online attendees via laptop. Periodically, representatives gave an overview of the purpose of the meeting and urged public feedback. Using the online application helped organizers to expand the reach of the public meeting to citizens who could not attend in person.
Washington State Department of Transportation has had good success using Twitter and blog posts together during weather emergencies. Twitter is a good tool to report and answer questions about closed roads or the status of storms or other weather events. Tweets can direct users to the WSDOT Blog for more information.
The California DMV used Social Media to optimize customer service communication channels. The agency has grown its online presence by posting useful information, such as how to choose a good car seat, on Facebook. Twitter has been helpful for answering questions from citizens. The California DMV even launched a smart phone app earlier this year to reduce the frustration people experience while waiting in line. The free app shows DMV locations and wait-times. Other features of the app let users schedule a time to take a written test, and even see the testing material and take a practice test.
- Social Networking Guidance, a TRB report
- Government Agencies and Social Media, a blog post on Mashable.com