UDOT recently held an online public meeting in conjunction with an official in-person public meeting.

Vic Saunders gets ready to read a prepared statement to the online meeting audience.

Shopping, going to school and socializing can all be done online — why not attend meetings online? UDOT recently held an online meeting along side a regular public meeting in order to expand public participation.

Public Information Manager Beau Hunter of Horrocks is the one who suggested the approach as a way to reach a young, busy audience. Vic Saunders, Public Involvement Manager of UDOT Region One, credits Beau for having the initial idea and running with it.

Penna Powers Brian Haynes was “added to our team for horse power to allow us to better utilize technology and innovation together,” says Beau. “Wendy Hansen with PPBH was extremely integral in the development and execution of the online meeting. Most importantly they developed the online ad campaign that generated a lot of traffic to our website in a very short period of time. “

While the in-person meeting was taking place, Vic and Wendy answered questions via laptop. Every half hour Vic gave an overview of the purpose of the meeting a urged public feedback.

Meeting organizers made use of free software that allows attendees to sign up for the meeting ahead of time. The software allows easy back and forth communication similar to texting using a laptop or smartphone. The software also integrates with cameras and microphones, but those features are not necessary.

Overall, the online portion of the meeting was a success and organizers will  use the approach again. Vic offers two pieces of advice to others who want to try the approach:

First, promote the online meeting early so people have time to download the software and get familiar with the site.

Second, “promote it like you really want people to see it, suggests Vic, by putting the information about the online meeting on the front page of the project website or another easy to find place.

“Promote large,” says Vic, “We burried ours a layer or two down and that reduced participation.”

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