I’ve been tasked with learning about Google Sites.
Google is of course ubiquitous in this business, and we’ve used Google Calendar for the Kansas Transportation Calendar on K-TOC from the beginning. Now I’m learning how the various Google apps—Calendar, Documents, Video etc.—fit together.
We’re providing comms support for a fact-finding committee with members scattered across the country. My first inclination, of course, was to offer K-TOC as a home for the committee: “How convenient! We just happen to have a dedicated online community available!” That may still happen—no one has said “no” yet—but we think it’s just as likely that this group will want to work in a space a bit more private than a public online community. Thus Google Sites. There we can set up an invitation-only site on which our members can exchange information in privacy.
This effort is running in parallel with plans for a major K-TOC replay. KDOT is about to undertake a round of project selections, and K-TOC will be a key component of the associated public outreach. Exactly what role the community will serve hasn’t yet been precisely determined, but I’ve heard enough to know that we’ll be replaying the landing page in expectation of sharply increased traffic.
The problem the agency faces is that of finding the highest possible degree of public consensus for construction projects that by definition cannot please everyone. KDOT’s project selection process already incorporates extensive local consultations—widely advertised local open meetings intended to draw public comments about proposed projects. We’ll be adding K-TOC to the process this time around, providing a forum where citizens can obtain project documentation and leave comments.
The overarching issue here—building public consensus for major government projects—is one central to any practical implementation of effective Government 2.0. My colleague Kyle Schneweis, KDOT’s government relations chief, lays out the question is his latest K-TOC blog:
Past local consultation meetings have been very successful. Cities and counties came together to talk regionally about priorities, and KDOT came away more informed. From a logistical standpoint though, there is one catch. The discussions often resulted in a consensus around long regional corridors. A group might say for example, that US-50 or US-54 is the most important project in their region. This certainly helps inform KDOT and builds consensus around priorities for a region, but a 100-mile stretch of highway is not a practical real project…
KDOT needs to identify logical next steps in building actual projects on these corridors. The big question is, once these are unveiled, will regional groups be able to come to a consensus on their priorities when the project is say only 10 or 20 miles long instead of 100 or 200? Or will the reality of how small the dollars actually go prevent us from reaching consensus? If there is no regional consensus, how will KDOT evaluate the local support for a project?
That’s what we don’t know. Those are the questions that K-TOC will help us answer. Right now we’re in the most preliminary stages of the effort, but the future possibilities are exciting.