Public Involvement Techniques
Public involvement programs aim to involve the largest possible
segment of the population. Yet traditional methods such as meetings
and hearings frequently interest only a small group of people. Capturing
the attention of a larger, more representative group requires careful
planning and often substantial effort. Maintaining that attention
level is even more of a challenge.
How does an agency know when its public involvement program needs
Gradually declining attendance or static membership among participants
is a major signal that a program is not engaging. Another signal
is a dearth of questions from participants or expressions of concern
that progress is not being made.
Why are special techniques useful?
An enjoyable and productive public involvement experience gets people
talking and enhances an agencys image in their minds. If agency
efforts are unique and stimulating, people more readily spread the
word about them. Agencies themselves renew their enthusiasm and
take more pride in their efforts to involve the public. Communication
often improves. And the best result is a more effective and extensive
collaboration between an agency and the public in transportation
planning and project development.
How does an agency attract people who do not usually participate?
Special techniques are available to attract both new and existing
participants or give a jump-start to a lackluster public participation
program. These techniques, best used occasionally rather than regularly,
may not guarantee continued interest, but they do hold promise for
more interesting and varied participation and feedback. Several
options are described on the following pages:
A. Holding special events;
B. Changing a meeting approach;
C. Finding new ways to communicate; and
D. Taking initial action steps.
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For more information about the TPCB program, contact Michelle
at FHWA (202-366-9206) or John Sprowls
at FTA (202-366-5362).