I’m at a “local consultation” meeting for transportation stakeholders in NE Kansas.

Like a social media tsunami, I’m live-tweeting the meeting, blogging at K-TOC and blogging here. (I can afford to do so because our meeting has split into small breakout sessions, and plopping into those sessions with my laptop–“Hi! I’m here to transmit your words to the whole world!”–strikes me as being a bit of a conversation-killer.)

Blogging is a relief, as for the past month I’ve been frantically posting a boatload of maps, surveys, informational one-sheets and project profiles to K-TOC. (I’m certain I’ve made numerous errors in labels and locations, but after a while it all runs together….) This is a consequence of KDOT’s experimental candidate project scoring system, which is still very much a work-in-progress. Our goal is complete transparency, or anyway as complete as technology reasonably allows, so the whole pile o’ paper underlying the project-scoring system is going up on the community for comments and questions.

Two weeks into this effort, it’s hard to tell how we’re doing. It’s naive to expect that an initiative like this will find immediate public traction, because, well, no one has ever done this before. It’s as necessary to get the public trained up as it is to train agency staff–this is new for everyone. We started by posting economic-impact surveys for 85+ proposed projects and asking for public feedback. We were hoping to receive comments that would further shape the economic-impact analyses: “Don’t overlook the development possibilities on the north side of the proposed interchange” etc. In fact the comments we received were much more thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the project as a whole, with little in the way of purely economic input..

But that’s OK, because public input is public input–it’s all good. This week we started the long process of posting the overall project scores, which will likely generate more in the way of useful comments.

Next week I’m presenting on K-TOC and the rest of our social media operation at the 2009 National Transportation Public Affairs Workshop in St. Louis. Maybe I’ll see you there!

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