OMAHA, Neb. — The Transportation Resource Board has honored two of HDR’s projects in its “Communicating Concepts with John and Jane Q. Public” competition. The annual competition, now in its 15th year, showcases best practices and innovative approaches to communicating complex transportation information to the public. This year’s awards focused on projects that featured new and emerging transportation technologies.

The competition winner is a project in Minnesota aimed at connecting with the public about connected and automated vehicles — “Let’s Talk About CAV: Understanding Minnesotans’ Perspectives of Connected and Automated Vehicle Technologies.”

Our team, with New Publica and client Minnesota Department of Transportation, developed a CAV communications and engagement framework that will guide how Minnesota CAV partners discuss these new technologies with Minnesotans and involve them in planning and preparing for CAV.

Our team engaged over 2,100 state residents and analyzed publicly available data to build a robust understanding of the different knowledge levels and attitudes toward CAV. From this, the team created persona-based messaging guidance that is already being applied to CAV projects in Minnesota, including a CAV pilot demonstration project in Rochester: the Med City Mover. Using our framework, we developed a public-friendly project communications plan, plain language project messaging, and project materials including signage, handouts, presentations, on-board video, and pre- and post-ride surveys.

An honorable mention went to the Lowcountry Rapid Transit project, the first mass transit project in the state of South Carolina. The project team needed a centerpiece to initiate dialogue at community meetings and a regional stakeholder forum. They turned to local poet Marcus Amaker, the Charleston poet laureate, to write the script for an engaging video that features footage of the various landmarks and areas of interest that the LCRT system will connect.

The video debuted at the largest gathering of transportation professionals and community leaders that Charleston County had ever seen, including elected officials, South Carolina Department of Transportation officials, business owners and community advocates. The result was tremendous positive feedback and enthusiastic support for LCRT.

“We strive to find innovative ways to provide outreach,” said Transportation Strategic Communications Director Theresa McClure. “These projects showcase the importance of making authentic connections with the community.”

The winning projects will be featured at TRB’s Annual Meeting in January and in a future edition of TRB’s transportation research news magazine, TR News.

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